How To Implement Change
A few hard truths about change:
It’s no secret that we live in a time of instant gratification. Between e-mail, text messaging and the various social media platforms - we have conditioned ourselves to become use to getting response, validation and attention instantly.
This has created some really systemic issues within the health and wellness space, as that same desire for instant feedback can lead to some pretty drastic measures being undertaken, or worse, the abandonment of positive practice at the first sign of a set back or even, ridiculously enough, the slowing of the rate of progress.
Time and time again, we see a preference within the community to take extreme measures short term, repeatedly, rather than a focus on playing the long game, doing things properly, and only one time.
Have we become afraid of hard work?
Do we just devalue ourselves so much so, that we consider ourselves unworthy of time or attention?
Is it simple ignorance?
Or a combination of all?
We have become obsessed with the idea that health and wellness is obtained through a magic bullet. We desperately want to find the pill, drink the potion or eat the herb that holds all the results, without needing to do any of the work.
It doesn’t help either, that we have a billion dollar supplement industry perpetuating the myth, capitalizing on our insecurities and profiteering off our desperation. It’s one hell of trap to get caught up in.
But here are some simple truths to consider when deciding it’s time to make a change. When you feel that surge of motivation to get healthier, consider this:
The big secret
If anything, the biggest secret in health and fitness is that the only way to improve your health, performance and body composition is to be consistent over long periods of time. But this concept isn’t nearly as sexy as ‘rapid loss fat burner shake,’ ‘8 week abs’ or ’10 minute gains’.
The truth is not sexy, instant or pain free.
The truth is that change is difficult. It takes time. It takes a great deal of effort and it requires you to be uncomfortable often.
But it is worth it.
You can’t expect change, without making change
Chances are, you’re in a position where you realize you need to do something about your health due to habits and behaviours that pertain to your lifestyle. We are what we repeatedly do, so if your current practices have lead you to be in a position you determine undesirable, then it stands to reason that those practices will need to change.
If nothing changes, nothing changes. Simple.
But if you are at the point where you’ve decided change is necessary, then I commend you for taking the first step.
Remember, changes don’t have to be daunting or overwhelming in order to have a positive impact. In fact, where we see most change stick is with those that occur slowly over time.
Start with small and manageable. Set realistic targets and positively affirm when you achieve each one.
Regardless of what you decide, the keystone is that something needs to be done differently than it is currently being done, that leads to a positive impact overall - that constitutes change!
Simply wishing things would improve is not going to cut it. Nothing works unless you do, so take action.
Be open to trying new things
If you’ve tried to implement change a few times, chances are you repeatedly try the same way each time. If it hasn’t worked the last six times you’ve tried it, it’s probably time to try a different approach. Obviously, use your common sense here - no doubt there are plenty of ways you’ve heard / read about improving your health - not all of them are going to have a positive impact long term or be sustainable over time. In fact, that’s probably the number one element that should be considered when making change - long term application. Cutting out all of a particular macronutrient might see results for the first 4 weeks, but if you can’t see yourself not eating specific food groups ever again, your risk of reversion is high. If the risk that you will eventually revert back to what you are currently doing and thus back to a place of needing to change, then this line of change is probably not the best way to go.
Most likely, to get to the position you’re currently in where you’re contemplating some life impacting changes, it took you longer than three months to get there. So forget anything that promises you you’ll be ‘finished’ or ‘done’ in any kind of time frame. Our bodies ability to cope and survive for long periods of time being put through the ringer is both a blessing and a curse. But if you’re truly serious about enacting life improving changes, then patience is required. Anything worth doing, especially in this space, is worth doing well - and if you can’t sustain the results you generate for the rest of your life - then why even start down the road?
The true measure of success with any nutrition or health change should be evaluated years after starting, not weeks, and practitioners who actually care about your health and wellbeing will tell you the same. Don’t show me the transformation pictures after 12 weeks. Show me after 2 years.
Focus on what you can control
Setting big long term goals is fantastic - but these big goals are met by achieving lots and lots of small term goals. If your goal is to lose 100lbs by then end of the year, don’t focus on the 100lbs. Focus on making good choices each day that align with your long term goal. If you take care of each day, with the many decisions you are in control of, then the long term goal will take care of itself. What we want to avoid is twofold - either being overwhelmed with how far we have to go, or justifying poor choices by kidding ourselves there is time to make them up.
By focusing simply on each step of the marathon, the miles will take care of themselves.
Focus on what’s in front of you and you alone. Your journey is not measurable to that of anyone else, and your progress and achievements are not comparable to others either. Be weary of all the minor details as well - they way you talk to yourself, the media you consume surrounding body image, your social groups habits - these all directly tie into your relative chance of success. By no means are these easy to confront or deal with, but this isn’t about easy - it’s about change.
A final thought
Stop buying into the bullshit and be real with yourself. There are no gimmicks, no quick fixes and no short cuts. Getting healthy and improving your body composition, is more than just what you eat and how often you train. There will be plenty of periods of being uncomfortable mentally and physically as you confront issues like your relationship with food and the way in which you think about yourself. But by confronting these issues and understanding them, we can ensure that the changes you do make, perpetuate success for years to come, rather than just a few weeks.