I get how hard it is to change. As I said to a friend the other day, "the pain of staying the same MUST be worse than the pain of changing before we take action." It's human nature. We generally have this built-in notion of cruise-control.
Cruise-control is easy and requires the least amount of effort. Why would we do anything different? After many months or years of doing the same thing (sleep in, skip breakfast, rush through the day, eat processed food for dinner, surf the internet, go to bed) it takes a lot of mental and physical energy to commit to changing up our ways.
Have you ever reached that point in your life where you feel so awful that it's given you that motivational push to make a change? That is where I see a lot of my patients. They have just had enough. They have spent hours online asking Google 'Why do I feel ______". Generally, Google has some great responses but after a few hours of this question and answer game, we can be left with a burning question: Now what?
Once the initial impulse to change as fizzled out, we need some additional motivation. As we start to feel better, the initial reason for embarking on this fabulous journey to better health is not longer nudging you every moment. This first 1-2 months of habit forming is equivalent to pushing a large bolder up a steep hill. Your initial impulse for change gives you the energy to start the ball rolling uphill and then once that initial impulse is spent, you require extra energy to keep it rolling.
This is the time I recommend having a number of resources in place to keep you rolling.
Join groups that are actively engaged in the type of habit you are looking to solidify. Here are some examples: running groups, weekly meditation meet-ups, cooking classes, healthy potlucks with friends (share recipes), online forums (www.myfitnesspal.com), community walking/exercise programs, book clubs that are focused on healthy living. Chances are if you are looking for a group that isn't available, others are too so why not start one yourself?
Create a visual reminder of your goals. Choose an image (online/magazine/drawing) that captures the essence of WHY you are making these changes. Some of my patients will create a folder on their computer they look through of images they have collected that help spark that excitement for the end goal.
Seek one-on-one support. Being accountable to another person has so many benefits. It could be a professional (Naturopath, Medical Doctor, Counsellor) or a trusted friend or a life coach (Patricia Carr is wonderful). Either way, knowing that this person cares and will be asking to see how you are doing can be motivation enough on those hard days when it feels easier to just let the boulder roll back down the hill.
Find an affirmation that works for you. Affirmations can feel a little cheesy at times, but if you find one that resonates with you and creates a feeling of peace, calm and hope it can give you that lift you need at times of personal struggle. If an affirmation is too positive it can make you feel worse (i.e. "Life is AMAZING!") especially if you aren't feeling so amazing. I like general statements such as 'things always work out in the end' or 'I will eventually get there' or 'I am doing my best'.
Have fun! Although the diagram above looks like that little stick figure is struggling, what you don't see is they have a huge smile on their face. With each success and each day with new and healthy habits under your belt, you can feel good in yourself and know that you can be, do and have anything you want. It can be enjoyable to watch as your life unfolds in a new way each day you choose a new way to be.
Write it down. Keep a health journal! So many of my patients find writing down how they feel as they make changes encourages them to keep going. By reviewing where you were at the beginning, you get to remind yourself how far you have come!
What has worked for you?