Three Factors Keeping You From Change
Here we are, half-way through the first month of the new year.
Did you plan an intentional reset to your life? If there ever was a year to reset-it would be the year following the onset of a once-in-a lifetime global pandemic.
Whatever the reset, it likely involves behavior change. For many Americans, this translates to change involving exercise (start to do it or get more of it) and food habits (eat more fruits and vegetables or decrease “junk” foods).
Unfortunately, many genuine, good intentions, are completely abandoned by February or March.
Why does this happen, year after year? What makes it so hard to change, and then stick with it?
Here are three factors that may be interfering with your ability to stick to your well-intentioned behaviors.
Take a look around you. Does your physical environment support your stated desired behavior? Or does your environment present obstacles?
Let’s say you are working on decreasing your intake of foods with added sugar. Does your food environment support this desired change, or is your pantry full of the foods you say you want to limit or avoid? Perhaps you will just ignore these foods which are in easy grabbing distance, but chances are, you’ll end up setting yourself up for a difficult time in cutting back.
Make your environment supportive by having only very limited amounts of foods that you are likely to overindulge. Use the extra space you have created healthier shelf-stable staples such as dried fruits, whole grains, beans and legumes.
What is your attitude towards the behavior you are working on? Is the behavior really something you are eager to do, or are you only committing to the idea of the change because you know you should? If you commit to something that you absolutely loathe, it simply will not happen.
Let’s say you like the idea of exercising, but you hate exercise. Before you can make a commitment, you need to change your attitude about exercise. You need not think of exercise as training for a marathon. Instead, figure out what you can do to move your body. For some, this may mean less sitting and more standing. For others, it may mean a morning walk or 10 minutes on your stationary bike. Whatever you realistically can commit to, even if it’s less than an ideal standard, is something you are more likely to stick with. In other words, you may know you need to do more than 10 minutes of movement three days a week, but if you have made a plan to move your body for those three, 10-minute intervals because that seems to be all you can fit in right now, then you have made yourself a plan you can stick with!
The bottom line-don’t overcommit to something not feasible for you. Make a plan of what you are willing and able to do. You can always build onto this in the spring (when you’re still engaging in your intended behavior because it was realistic)!
Confidence in Making the Change
We may have good intentions, a supportive environment, and a positive attitude towards the change, but if we lack confidence in our abilities, it will be harder to do. For example, if you are trying to eat more vegetables but you are not comfortable navigating the produce section of the grocery store, you may be at a loss. Try to figure out if you need new knowledge or skills to help you with your desired change. This doesn’t have to be complicated-you can seek out support from knowledgeable friends or family as well as resources in your community.
Practice, Practice, practice
Environment, attitudes, and confidence go a long way in helping you make positive changes in your life. These factors apply to many areas of your life, not just food and exercise habits.
Once you have these three important factors set up in a favorable manner, you are ready to put your change into practice. After all-practice creates habit, so that by this time next year, your 2021 reset is now just a part of your healthier routine!