It’s January 14th, 2018 – two weeks after the beginning of the New Year (for those of us following a Gregorian calendar).
How quickly did this time go by?
I don’t know about you, but I thought it went by pretty damn fast.
Did you make a resolution this year…perhaps a grand overhaul of your eating habits?
How’s that working for you?
- Are you making progress to your goals?
- If not, do you know what exactly about your dietary overhaul isn’t working?
- If so, do you know what specifically it was that you changed that is contributing most towards your progress?
- How much longer can you sustain this new way of eating?
My guess is that many of you aren’t entirely sure about questions 2, 3, and 4.
At the beginning of the new year, many of us jump from eating whatever we find on the way home from work to full vegan, Paleo, low carb, Whole 30, or some other popular diet.
Starting January 1st, that’s what we’ve chosen to do, come hell or high water!
What we often don’t consider, though, are all the small skills involved in adopting a new way of eating.
- What foods are we or aren’t we going to include in our eating habits, and why?
- How will we ensure our new eating habits are nutritionally adequate – even when eating according to the “rules” we’ve set?
- Where will we buy those foods?
- How will we cook those foods?
- How are we going to fit all of this planning, cooking, and eating into our schedule?
- Where and what will we eat when life gets in the way and we can’t get to the meal we had planned and/or prepared?
Even if/when we get our new way of eating down-pat, we’re faced with a few questions if/when our progress stalls or if things don’t work.
- If we are making progress towards our goals, which changes are most responsible for our progress?
- If we aren’t making progress towards our goals, which changes aren’t working for us?
- What new habits should we keep – and which should we drop – for long-term success?
When our progress eventually stalls, or we get bored, or overwhelmed, many of us will get frustrated and quit…
- “It’s no use…”
- “I always screw these things up…”
- “I guess I’m just a failure…”
- “This is too much work…”
Others of us will get impatient and jump full speed ahead into the next thing (this was my tendency)…
- “Vegan isn’t working so I must need to go Paleo”
- “Low-fat isn’t working for me, so I must need to go keto”
- “Bodybuilding isn’t working so I must need to switch to CrossFit”
- “Maybe intermittent fasting will get the scale moving again…”
Get the picture?
Behavior change is hard, and the more changes we implement at once, the more challenges we potentially face.
Don’t get me wrong, there are times when making sweeping changes to our lifestyles might make sense.
- Responding to recognition of disease
- Following marriage, divorce, birth, or loss
- Concurrent to a move to a new town or living situation
- Alongside a change of career
Additionally, for most of us, paying any attention at all to our food choices is an improvement from fast food, smoothies, and pastries at the office.
This is why so many different diets yield enormous results for so many different people at first.
But these massive overhauls often end in frustration, defeat, and yo-yo dieting when results stall and we don’t know what to do to get things moving in the right direction again.
Fortunately, massive overhaul isn’t the only option.
What if instead we focused on just ONE new behavior change at a time?
What if we then practiced that new behavior change until it became a habit – automatic, without thought?
Knowing how that one change affects how we look, feel, and perform, how much more more confident would we be that what we were doing was actually working for us?
How much better equipped would we be to sustain this one small change for the long run?
What if instead of committing to eating only from a long list of completely new foods, we committed to drinking 20 oz. of plain water each morning, and then a couple of more times throughout the day?
…then maybe to eating protein with every meal?
…then maybe to a variety of non-starchy veggies each day?
If we’d kicked off 2018 by focusing on each of these habits for one week, we’d all be drinking plain water, eating protein with every meal, and crushing veggies by the end of next week.
Sure, this might not be as exciting or sexy as full-bore vegan, Paleo, or whatever the hell else kids are doing these days, but we’d be taking action and making progress with…
…and that’s only after three weeks.
With this approach, where might we be the time we were looking at 2019?
Hope that helps!