Do you struggle to stay on track with the healthy habit changes you are trying to commit to? Whether it's aiming for more fruits and veggies in your daily meals, getting a workout in a few times per week, or just going to bed 30 mins earlier... we all fall off the wagon from time to time. Especially after we lose the momentum that comes from the "novelty" of a new plan. I see this with patients all the time when we haven't put the simple strategies and supports in place to keep them on track - the best of which I'm going to share with you today! With this simple strategy you will get much better results when you commit to a new healthy change.
Why am I sharing this? Simply because these everyday dietary and lifestyle changes you know you need to make are the key to preventing and reversing chronic disease. We know now that 80% of chronic disease is a result of poor self-care in terms of diet and lifestyle. The good news is these things are preventable. If I can help you for free with a simple strategy that I use myself when adopting change, then I'm doing it!
According to research, commitment and willpower is a bit like a muscle - it gets tired the more you use it. Everyone wakes up with so much willpower in the morning, and as you use it, it gets run down throughout the day. This is why changes you make first thing in the morning sometimes feel easier than ones you plan for the evening.
What's great about this, it willpower is not just some quality that you have or don't have. Yes, that's right, you didn't just miss out on the "willpower" genes when God was handing them out. Neither are you are lazy nor stubborn/resistant when you can't stick to something - often you've just exhausted your storehouse of willpower for the day. That's it. :)
When we think about willpower as a limited resource in this way, we can easily see how to manage it so much more effectively AND get the results we are looking for! Yipee!
So, now it's time to talk strategy.
The best way I have found to help people along (and myself!) when adopting a new health habit is simply to make the change so simple and laughably tiny that willpower doesn't even come into it.
Here are some basic recommendations I commonly make to my patients during their treatment plan discussion:
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Taken on the surface, these recommendations can seem simple but daunting, especially if you need to make all these changes together and have them in place by Monday morning!
Let's talk about how to break this up so you make consistent progress using the idea that "willpower is a muscle".
If willpower is a muscle, you have to build it like a muscle - start with a small weight (small commitment) and work up to larger weights (more complicated commitments) over time.
This means breaking those goals down perhaps as follows:
How much easier is it for one to stick to those changes than the first ones listed? These targets are super easy to achieve, and it gives you a win right out of the gates with little or no effort. It also builds confidence with quick wins. Early success is always so important to making new habits stick!
Making your progress visible is also a helpful add-on to this strategy. Everyone likes to see a report card with a winning grade on it! Examples of ways to track the above items:
The key to making these up for yourself and your unique situation is to ensure that the bigger goals you have are broken down into distinct, small, concrete, measurable and actionable items.
As always, I hope this information has served and helped you. Thank you for reading.
Laura Nurse, BBA, ND
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