The Simple Habit that will Change Everything
Starting any new diet or lifestyle regimen is an intimidating prospect. The idea of permanently changing any aspect of our lives seems insurmountable. Those who want to gain immense muscle mass may look in the mirror and feel disheartened by their slim physique and give up before even starting. Similarly, the more weight you want to lose, the more impossible it feels to reach that goal. Despite such intimidating prospects, many people are able to achieve success. What’s their secret?
Start Small to Go Big
When people think too intently on their long term goal, the process required to get there gets lost. Similarly, if these goals are too broad or vague, the entire process gets muddled and confusing, impossible to follow. Instead of aiming big, Coach Stevo1, a nutrition and behavior change consultant, recommends to focus on one small habit, one day at a time. One small change eventually results in a big change which eventually results in numerous big changes. But even forming a single, seemingly insignificant habit can be difficult.
Change Doesn’t Happen Overnight
Impatience is a common obstacle that many people face when creating a new habit. A watched pot doesn’t boil and the same can be said for a number on the scale. Being eager for results is understandable, but it’s key to have realistic expectations. An article published by Psychology Today explains that impatience is caused2 when we have a goal and realize it’s going to cost more than expected to reach it. Expecting noticeable change overnight is unrealistic, plain and simple. That doesn’t prevent us from expecting it anyway, though, and this impatience usually results in a search for easier alternative solutions, like magic diet pills (that don’t exist), steroids, or cosmetic surgery. Those are extreme examples though, because more often than not, we become disheartened, and, convinced that we’ve failed, give up before we’ve really even started.
Don’t Psych Yourself Out
Even small change takes time. A popular theory is that it takes 21 days to make or break a habit. This theory was initially postulated by plastic surgeon Maxwell Maltz in the 1950s. There’s no science to back up this claim though, and depending on the habit, it may take much longer. Dr. Maltz only made this observation from his own patients and claimed that 21 days was the minimum amount of time it takes “for an old mental image to dissolve3.” Even though 21 days isn’t that much time, on a day to day basis it can feel like forever. A helpful thought to get through the habit forming process is that when that allotted time is up, you’ll have made progress. When one new healthy habit is formed, another can be added, and so on. Rather than setting a big, vague long term goal, forming healthy habits and ridding yourself of unhealthy ones create noticeable progress without the intimidation factor.
Ready, Set, Go
The easiest way to get the ball rolling is pick one habit that you’d like to form – or break. Maybe you want to add more vegetables to your diet or cut foods with added sugar out. Other healthy habits to adopt are eat breakfast daily, meal prep, take a walk every day, read food labels, and eat smaller portions. All you need to do is figure out one goal, take it slow, and don’t give up.