New Year…New You? …Not so Fast!
If you are like millions of Americans, the past few weeks have been a mix of recovering from the merriment/madness of the holidays & contemplating change.
We all know the drill, January 1st rolls around & gets us thinking about what is and is not working in our lives. If only for a few days, making a commitment towards positive change seems like an obtainable goal.
For many, this positive change involves losing weight. Every January 1st, I leap onto the weight loss band wagon, only to be derailed at the first sight of cheese & wine.
So why is it so difficult to develop & maintain healthier habits?
By now, the “how’ is no mystery. I’m no rocket scientist and I really really hate math, but I understand that my calories out have to be less than calories in. Nevertheless, study after study indicates that while many succeed in in losing some weight, the long term results are usually poor. Why is it so hard then to stick to a healthy eating plan and a reasonable exercise regime? I’m a mom, so I could give you a thousand reasons…stress, time, lack of planning, picky children, wine. If you are R.E.A.L. Tired Housewife, the reasons truly are endless.
So this year, I am taking a different approach to better health. It’s one that I actually know quite well but have never thought to apply to the areas of weight and wellness. (Talk about a light bulb moment!) It’s no secret that I constantly sing the praises of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. I am so passionate about this approach to maintaining one’s mental health, that I use it as my primary strategy when working with clients of all ages.
So it stands to reason that if faulty thinking patterns contribute a host of mental health problems, it might also be the reason they remain unable to finally achieve the healthy lifestyle they so desperately aspire to.
I would suspect that it is because knowing what to do & knowing how to get yourself to do it are entirely separate skills. Getting ourselves to create new habits depends largely on the silent conversation we have with ourselves: our thoughts.
Since I would never ask a client to do something I would not be willing to do myself, the ideas that come next are going to be tested first and foremost on me. I’ll agree to be my own guinea pig.
Let me state for the record that I am not focusing on losing weight. I have wasted way too much of my precious life focusing on a number on a scale. No longer a slave to the scale, what matters to me most is how I feel on a daily basis. So the goal is: be a little less tired real housewife.
I’ll first work to identify destructive thoughts keeping me from achieving my wellness goals. Once those are identified, I will develop strategies to actively challenge and change those thoughts into more helpful ones. I ask clients to do this all of the time and I am their accountability coach. You then, friends & readers, will be my accountability guide.
So what does this actually look like in real Mom Life? I’ll create cards on a ring to record new, more helpful thoughts & keep these cards in a prominent place..i.e. kitchen, car, office, or any place where I tend to lose focus and motivation. If you have children, (that’s basically everywhere and anywhere). Think of it almost as a portable vision board of words!
Here are a few examples of thoughts I plan to tackle:
- Old: I have tried eating healthier before and always fall back into my old patterns.
NEW: Changing my thoughts has led to great gains in mental health for me and this time I’m applying those techniques to wellness.
- Old: My family is full of picky eaters and they won’t be supportive of this new way of eating.
NEW: My family has supported my goals in the past and will be inspired when I succeed.
- I will have to be much less social if I change my eating & drinking patterns, and being with friends is a huge part of my life that I am not willing to give up.
NEW: I can & will still go out with friends, but I can plan what I will eat/drink in advance & not waiver from that. I will surround myself with people who have like-minded goals and bring out the best in me by supporting my positive changes.
As I say often, the goal is progress, not perfection. I know I won’t be perfect on this journey to wellness, but I promise to keep you posted on my progress and cheer you on if you too decide to make 2018 a year of change.