When we set out on a new diet and exercise regime, often it’s because we’re not happy about somethings in our lives. Perhaps our favourite pants don’t fit well anymore, or maybe when we were playing with the kids we noticed that we just can’t keep up!
Whatever your reason for undertaking your new paleo lifestyle, there will inevitably be days when you feel that it’s all too much effort. Even the most dedicated people have days when their motivation wanes. To ensure success, there are steps you can take to help you stay focussed on what you really want and to follow through - even when you don’t feel like it.
Setting good goals is a key part to setting yourself up for success from the very start. If we don’t know exactly what we want, how will we know when we achieve it?
Using the acronym, SMART can help you to set goals that deliver motivation and results.
S- Specific – know exactly what you want. It needs to be specific enough to be able to state in a sentence or two.
M- Measurable – Can it be measured? If so, how will you do so to ensure you’re on track?
A - Action Oriented – What repeated actions will you need to take to achieve your goal?
R- Realistic – While you may have big dreams for yourself, allow yourself time to get there. Start with a realistic goal that you can hit – and then set another one.
T- Time Specific – How long will it take for you to achieve your goal? Be ambitious, but not overly so. Pick a specific date on your calendar when you want to have reached your goal. This helps to keep you focused.
One of the biggest traps people fall into when setting their goals is that they focus on the final goal. If you’re planning to lose a significant amount of weight or overhaul your fitness, it is going to take time. A goal that's so big you can’t even imagine achieving it right now isn’t going to be much help. You need to be able to see it and feel it in your mind’s eye so you have a feeling to hang onto when the going gets tough.
For this reason, it works best to set yourself an achievable short-term goal first. It shouldn’t be too easy, you want to challenge yourself, but it should be reachable within the next four weeks. This gives you a goal to really strive for each and every day, with an end in sight.
Also set yourself a medium term goal, perhaps for 6 months time. Depending on your overall aim, you may want to include a number of medium term goals before your final goal. Each time you hit a goal you can celebrate. As sometimes happens, if you fall short of your aim, you can ask yourself some questions to figure out what went wrong. You may need to adjust your next goal and then start out again knowing that next time you’ll smash it!
Most people begin a healthy lifestyle with loads of enthusiasm but forget to plan for when this initial excitement wears off. This is where daily and weekly preparation is key.
At the start of each week, identify what you need to do this week to stay on track. Then, schedule it into your diary. How often do you need to work out? Write it down and don’t let anything get in the way of it. This approach may mean changing things around, especially if you have a family to consider. It is important to identify challenges before they arise so that you can solve it without sacrificing your goal. Perhaps you have to take a child to soccer practice which means you'll miss exercising on a given day. If you realise this in advance, it may be possible to have a friend bring them for you. You can always return the favour another time.
Setting yourself up for success is also very important when it comes to your diet. If you don’t plan what you’ll eat in advance it makes slipping into old habits more likely. Our handy meal delivery service can help you to ensure that you have a selection of healthy meal choices ready to go after a long day.
This is perhaps the single most effective step to motivate you to keep eating right and working hard. Do a little bit of soul searching here. Why exactly do you want to achieve this goal? Sure, you might want to fit back into those jeans, but is that really the motivating factor? Is there another, more meaningful reason underneath that?
Facing difficult emotions can be hard, but more often than not, it is difficult emotions that make people decide to change their lifestyle. Some of these may be a fear about ill health, worries about burdening our family, not being there for our children in the future, feelings of worthlessness tied up with our self-image, feelings of failure at not being able to reach our goals in the past, feelings of being ugly. You may notice that these are mainly framed in a negative way, often our self-talk is not very positive and that doesn’t help!
If you identify with any of the fears mentioned above, or can identify your own reasons for wanting to lose weight or get healthier, you now need to reframe those thoughts in a positive way. For example, if you’re afraid that you won’t be around for your children in the future due to ill-health, your reason for realising your goal may be that you are fit and healthy into the future and can enjoy many years of happiness with your loved ones. A strong motivating statement like that can help you find an inner strength that you didn’t know you had.
Identify your reason for doing this – and keep it in mind every step of the way.
Positive reinforcement works – that’s why we use it with children and when training puppies. I hate to break it to you, but you’re no different! If you want to accomplish your goal and stay motivated along the journey to success, you must give yourself a clap on the back when you do well. Why? Because making significant changes to your lifestyle is hard. We don’t like change, particularly when it involves eating foods that we don’t naturally gravitate towards, getting up early, or pushing ourselves with our fitness.
If you feel that you are making sacrifices and are not seeing any reward, it makes it so much easier to give up. The reward of hitting your goal might still be some way off, so to keep yourself motivated, acknowledge each and every positive action you take that benefits you and your life. If this is not a practice that you’re used to, it may feel silly at first, but even if it feels silly, it’ll probably still feel good.
If you have been accustomed to celebrating with food in the past, now is the time to shake up your reward system. Consider other things that bring you joy, it may be a family day out or an evening activity with friends. Make a list of potential rewards you can gift yourself and as you progress, enjoy collecting them one at a time.
For some, the driving force behind our new healthy lifestyle is so that we look good. And there’s nothing wrong with that! We all like to look and feel good in ourselves. With that said, sometimes we can get caught up in an idea of an ‘ideal size’ or a specific number on the scales that we must get to. This obsession with numbers is not good. It promotes neurotic behaviour, such as compulsively weighing in to see if we’re any closer – and if we’re not, that can lead to negative talk and even self-loathing in extreme situations.
It’s much better to let health and fitness be your markers. Challenge yourself to increase your lung capacity, to run a bit further, or lift a little heavier. Perhaps monitoring your blood pressure or cholesterol is a way that you can motivate yourself by focussing on improving your health. Think about what is important to you.
If you are successful in improving your health and fitness, looking good will come naturally.
It’s good to be competitive, it can help us with motivation, prompting us to dig deep at times when we need to give it our all. But who is your competition? If you’re taking part in a fitness class, running group or other group exercise, you might like to challenge yourself to beat the person next to you. Other than that, your competition should be none other than yourself.
As you embark on a healthy lifestyle, you may become more aware of people who post progress pictures on social media. This is fine, but it has nothing to do with you, your progress or your goals. Trying to beat an image of someone you may not even know makes little sense. You don’t know how much time or resources they have to invest in their lifestyle. Also, you don't know whether these images are even a true reflection of them!
Instead, focus on you. You know how far you have come, you know what you’ve had to fight to reach your success. Doesn’t it feel so much better when you look back at where you were to where you are now?
Forget about those instagrammers, it’s all about you!
We all have down days, when things aren’t going our way and reaching our goals seems like an impossibility. There’ll also be days when we fall off the wagon and that’s ok too. We’re only human. Focussing on the positives can be the key to implementing a healthy paleo lifestyle for good. It helps us to get up, dust ourselves off, and get back on the path quickly.
Instead of focussing on all the things that have gone wrong, try to see what you’ve done right. Maybe you ate your weight in chocolate today. Don't get on that self-destructive hamster wheel! Instead, acknowledge that, perhaps, you had three fantastic weeks before this – and tomorrow, you’ll start again.
Perhaps you didn’t hit your target this week. That’s too bad. But did you do other things that were good during the week? Maybe you did everything right this week, give yourself a clap on the back. Next week you might overshoot your target to make up for this week. There is always a positive way to look at a bad situation. To keep motivation up while reaching for a goal, get into the habit of looking at things in a positive light.
Undertaking a new healthy lifestyle can be hard. But if you put structures in place to maintain motivation, even when the going gets tough, you’ll be well on your way to reaching your goals in no time!
If you need help with getting healthy nutritious meals to support your healthy paleo lifestyle, we’d be delighted to help!