There is only one secret to changing your lifestyle, no matter where you’re starting from or what your ultimate goal is:
Make little changes and make them slowly
What does this mean? Isn’t it obvious? Well, no. We get a lot of women coming to us wanting to find that one workout, that one diet, or that one superfood-juice-cleanse-detox-blah-blah that will turn them from a couch potato to one of those girls running past a sunset in a health insurance commercial.
Unfortunately, changing anything in life is not easy, and it’s not quick. It takes time, commitment, patience, and the ability to not get ahead of ourselves. We live in a society of instant gratification, and it is tempting to look for that when we are disappointed with how we feel or how we look. The answer isn’t to “OVERHAUL YOUR LIFE!!” – it’s to think about what changes are the easiest to make, and then making those changes slowly, over time.
The easiest change to make is usually a positive one: Adding something in. Rather than trying to STOP eating chocolate, STOP drinking wine, STOP sitting on the couch… You should try to START drinking a few glasses of water every day, START having one piece of fruit at breakfast, START with a 15-minute walk this weekend. For most people, these changes are manageable. It could be that you hate water (I used to!) so you start with sparkling water with a slice of lemon in it. Perhaps you start with just one glass of water a day, then after two weeks of that you add another glass of water each day. This is how slowly I’m talking about.It should feel absurdly easy to meet your short-term goals and stick to them.
If you expect perfection, you will always be disappointed
Particularly in the new year, it’s tempting to jump on the fitness bandwagon and just GO! But this is simply an A+ strategy to burn out and end up miserable and disappointed in yourself within a month or two. Following the secret of fitness, you only need to stick to one new habit per month. We cover extensively in our FAQ the steps you can take to achieve your goals, but although the information is displayed all together, that doesn’t mean you should attempt to do it all at once.
Almost all of our success stories in this subreddit come from women who have followed a plan to about 80-90%. Build flexibility into your plan and you’ll find those small changes far easier to achieve. You can do this by aiming to complete an action 2-3 times a week. There’s nothing stopping you from doing it more, but if you set a gym goal for 7 days a week and your child becomes ill, suddenly you’re a ‘failure’ for not going, as opposed to a real person dealing with real life using realistic targets.
The basic categories for any changes you make
Becoming fitter and healthier is a process of adaptation for your body. To successfully achieve this adaptation, you need to fulfill the criteria below. These four things should form the basis for the small changes you make in your life. Remember, when starting out you do not need to fulfill all of this criteria right away – but over the year it should be your goal to improve in each category:
1. Challenge yourself with whatever exercise your do: If you do the same exercise for the rest of time without changing anything, your body will never continue to develop and adapt. Challenging and ‘stressing’ your body during a workout is the only way for adaptation to be stimulated, so that your body grows stronger and fitter while recovering. e.g. walk a bit further or a bit faster every week; Lift a little more weight each workout; Stay 5 more minutes at the gym than last time.
2. Eat food that supports and fuels your body: Don’t eat too little and make your ‘vehicle’ run out of gas; but also don’t eat too much and overburden your body with energy it can’t use. e.g. eat a piece of fruit each day; get more veggies in your diet; increase the level of protein in your diet; track calories or macronutrients using an app.
3. Drink water to stay hydrated: Imagine a thickshake. If you suck on the straw of a thickshake it can be hard to get the liquid moving. Now imagine you add water to that thickshake – suddenly, it’s a lot easier to move the liquid through the straw. Your heart is similarly trying to move blood around your body through your blood vessels. If you’re dehydrated, your heart will have a much harder time circulating your blood, making both exercise and life just that bit more difficult.
4. Rest and recover from your workouts: Get 7-8 hours of sleep every night; Splitting weights workouts into upper/lower or push/pull/legs; Giving yourself rest days; Taking power naps.
Prioritise what you think is easiest or what you’re most excited for
How do you know what small changes to make and the order to make them? Simple. If you’ve joined a gym and you’re dying to get going in that Zumba class you walked past the other day, that should be your #1 goal. Attend 1-2 Zumba classes every week for a month. Change nothing else in that month unless it happens naturally.
In the second month, keep attending your Zumba class, but now strawberries are in season! So you’ll attend the class 1-2 times a week and have strawberries as your dessert 2-3 times a week. Yum!
It sounds almost too simple, right? But by taking steps you enjoy, and taking them slowly, you’ll find that they become built into your week far more naturally than trying to force-feed yourself a “fitness lifestyle” which is completely separate from your own individual desires.