“Change is easy.”
Ever heard that before?…Ever said that before?
If so, you are not alone.
More often than not, you hear (or feel) the exact opposite: “Change is hard.”
Take a look at some of these statistics to see what I mean:
- About 600,000 people have bypasses every year in the United States, and 1.3 million heart patients have angioplasties, however, if you look at people after coronary-artery bypass grafting two years later, 90% of them have not changed their lifestyle (eating, exercise habits)
- Nearly all dieters (90-95%) regain the weight they lost within one to five years.
- About 25% of adults smoke, but about 70% of them want to quit. In one study, of the smokers who said they wanted to stop smoking, 80% of them were unable to.
- The Type II Diabetes epidemic is expected to affect 1 in every 3 Americans by 2050. And yet, hundreds of thousands of people continue to consume processed food, sugar and remain physically inactive.
In layman’s terms: Change (particular controllable lifestyle change) is hard because our behaviors become habits and, often times, habits become automatic (that is, we don’t always recognize habits in our own behavior).
In fact, studies have shown that about 40-percent of all people’s daily activities are performed each day in almost the same situations.
Change takes effort.
When we talk about change, it doesn’t have to necessarily involve a health habit either.
Lifestyle changes occur in one of two ways:
- Something you do (conscious behavior change), or;
- Something done to you (injury, forced change in surroundings, etc.).
Such changes could include:
- A change in SEASONS and weather (Hello, spring!!!)
- A change in jobs
- A loss of your job
- Moving apartments…moving cities…
- A change in relationship status
- Following a new specific program to increase your strength/fitness
- Getting a new roommate
- Quitting the consumption artificial sweeteners
- Going gluten-free
- Beginning a regular fitness routine
- Going to bed or waking up an hour earlier
- Following a nutritional meal plan that is best for you
- Stopping stepping on the scale daily
- Looking in the mirror, and lifting yourself up rather than cutting yourself down
- Flossing your teeth daily
- Changing your route to work due to traffic
- A change in your pre-planned schedule for the day due to cancelled appointments
- A change in weather
- A change in your monthly rent
And on…and on…
So where do you currently lie on the ‘change’ continuum?
- How accepting are you of change?
- Is there a situation, behavior, habit or lifestyle change you’d like to make in your life?
- Have you recently been forced to embrace an uncontrollable change?
No matter where you stand, there is ONE thing that is for certain…Change is an inevitable part of life; particularly if you desire for things to ‘be different’ or to attain a particular goal (i.e. weight gain/loss, feel more ‘energetic’, decrease your stress, enhance your performance in the gym, develop work-life balance, etc.).
I talk to people about change on a daily basis, and if there is one thing that does NOT surprise me, it is that LOTS of change can be overwhelming.
An ESSENTIAL ingredient I have learned to helping people (and myself) make sustainable life change—it is to focus on changing ONE THING AT A TIME.
While it may seem like that taking ‘baby steps’ will take longer to make the bigger-picture change you want to make (for instance: Recovery from an eating disorder; Body composition change; Eating ‘healthier’), in the long-run, baby steps are where the race is won.
(And bonus: It’s a lot less overwhelming!).
I will use myself as an example:
Four years ago, I was FED UP with my continual, repeat patterns to ‘go into treatment’ or a hospital, get out, then go back to the ‘comforts’ of restricting my food or stepping my life away on that StairMaster. During this time, I decided I was ready and willing to do what it took to make a change in these, otherwise comforting, habits.
What did that look like?
Completely different than what I had been doing.
- I started with focusing first on self-care…asking myself: ‘What would healthy Lauryn do in this situation?’ any time I felt unclear of what to eat, how to spend my time, what to order, etc.
- I then moved on to throwing out my scale and old clothes that represented an unhealthy size.
- I went on to establishing foundational healthy eating habits (incorporating fats-yes, crazy fats, carbs and proteins into my diet).
- Establishing an exercise routine aimed at goals in line with my healthy goals—gaining strength, not focusing on the mirror, having fun.
- And before I knew it…when I looked up…change was won…and has since then, become second nature.
Easier said than done?
Start with one thing this week…then build upon it.
When you look up, you will have what your heart desires—keep your eyes on the prize (your goals).
Here are a few more tips for winning at change:
- Say it’s ‘Day 1’ for the last time. You will not get where you want to go without commitment, others will be there to support you if you ask them to, but your change has to be your commitment.
- Get schooled. Seek education from those who know more than you do and don’t be afraid to ask questions or for help.
- Move on. Realize that slip-ups or backslides happen, but one bad meal or moment of reverting back to your ‘old ways’ does not undo all your hard work. If you slip at lunch, do better at your snack or dinnertime; don’t wait until the next morning to start over.
- No time frame. Don’t view change as a short time-frame, followed by going back to old habits –the old adage, ‘it’s not a diet (or quick fix, or short-lived challenge), it’s a lifestyle’, could not be any more true.
- One step at a time. Make those changes one step at a time if you’re not ready to make a total overhaul. Implementing healthier eating habits? Start with drinking ½ your body weight in ounces, or taking the first week to mentally and physically prepare for newness (grocery shopping, pantry sweep, etc.). Working a new recovery plan? What is ONE thing you can do this week to build into your goals for freedom? Do that.
- All in. Ultimately, you get out what you put in, so if you’re going to do it you might as well try your hardest right? No one can ask you to do any more than that.