I’m Tasha Wilson, Wife and Mum of two kids, household to run, happy life to lead. I’m on a mission to help busy women stop making themselves miserable after failing with diet after diet (after diet after diet after diet) and instead learn how living and eating clean is the key to losing weight and never needing to diet again.
Most people have a good idea of how to turn their life around. The solutions are usually obvious. Everyone knows how to lose weight, make more money, or keep their house tidier. The challenge is following through.
Knowing what to do isn’t enough, not even close. Knowing gets you nothing. Execution and persistence are everything.
Why don’t you follow through on your decisions? Choose the reasons that resonate with you and see how to resolve them:
1. You’re not making a true decision.
Making a true decision means cutting yourself off from any other option. Most of us fail to commit sufficiently to our decisions. We’re too half-hearted and give up far too quickly
Understand that a real decision is a contract you’ve made with yourself. Show yourself the respect you deserve.
2. Are you unclear on your values?
Understand your values and you’ll follow through more often.
Knowing your values increases the quality of your decisions. It will also keep you going when you hit an obstacle. You’ll be less likely to give up if you’re living according to your values.
3. You incorrectly evaluate how challenging it will be.
Things are often more challenging than you thought they would be. This is a common reason for not following through.
Expect to face challenges along the way. If you expect things to be difficult, you won’t be surprised when they are. You might also be able to prepare a few solutions ahead of time for probable challenges.
4. Your emotions get the best of you.
Successful people are either less swayed by their emotions, or they have more control over their emotions. Take your pick. It’s hard to be successful without one or the other.
Meditation is one way of getting control over your emotions and yourself.
Focus on making positive decisions in spite of how you’re feeling in the moment. The tendency is to make decisions that reduce your anxiety in the short-term. Unfortunately, this leads to long-term failure. Keep your focus on the objective.
5. You work toward your goals intermittently.
A little effort each day will accomplish more than a lot of effort here and there. Daily action keeps you focused and is easier emotionally.
Avoid the belief that you have to work yourself into the ground to be successful. A little each day adds up to a lot.
Make a list of actions you can take each day and then do a few of them. That’s often all that’s required.
6. Are you losing focus on your end result?
A short-term perspective will sabotage your efforts. If you focus on the short-term struggle you’re experiencing, you’ll almost certainly find a way to quit.
Remind yourself daily of the prize at the end. Visualize success and how great you’ll feel. Bask in how amazing it is. That’s the key to following through.
7. You want everything in your life to be easy.
Do you just give up and go on to a new project whenever you see that something isn’t easy?
There’s no glory without struggle. A little challenge can make your successes more meaningful. If life were too easy, you’d be bored.
Do you follow through on your intentions, or do you find a reason to quit?
You probably already know enough to make dramatic changes to your life, so the real challenge is managing yourself and following an effective process.
The power to change your life is within you. You only need to adjust your approach. Perseverance is a significant part of positive change.
What could you change in your life if you followed through on your decisions? A better question is, “What couldn’t you change?”
Maybe you find it easy to stick to your diet when you’re at home, but parties and eating out throw you off track. Suddenly, you’re surrounded by temptations. You want to have fun with your family and friends instead of thinking about making better choices and measuring portions.
You can make healthy choices while enjoying a social life. However, you’ll have a difficult time keeping weight off unless you’re able to keep your goals in sight when you’re out in public.
Try these ideas to help you turn your family and friends into allies and prepare for many of the most common challenging situations.
Dealing with Your Family and Friends:
Ask for help. Experts say that social support is one reason why groups like Weight Watchers have so many success stories. Let your loved ones know what kind of practical and emotional assistance you need. You may want to join an official support group too, especially if you’re losing significant amounts of weight.
Team up. You probably know someone who shares your desire to slim down. Collaborate so you can keep each other company and hold each other accountable for working out and eating your vegetables.
Change the subject. There may also be people who tend to undermine your positive intentions or just lack much interest in what you ate for breakfast. You’ll be more fun to be around if you talk about things other than your diet.
Plan the agenda. Seek entertainment in places other than restaurants and bars. Invite a friend to go rock climbing. Bring your children to a science museum instead of the movies where you are likely to want popcorn and choc-tops.
Take responsibility. Remember that you control what you eat and drink, and you have to live with the consequences. It will help you to keep any peer pressure in perspective.
Dealing with Eating Out:
Preview the menu. Most restaurants post their menus online these days. Find out what your options are so you can decide what to order without being tempted by having to look at the specials and other fattening dishes.
Shrink your servings. Many restaurants serve jumbo portions. Eat half of what’s on your plate and take the rest home for breakfast. If you think you’ll be prone to gobbling it all down, ask the server to pack up half in advance.
Pick the venue. Some restaurants offer a wider selection of delicious healthier items. Have a list of local favourites handy so you can recommend where to go for date nights or weekend brunches.
Make substitutions. Ask your server if you can customize your meal. For example, you may be able to get extra vegetables or a green salad instead of French fries or order your fish grilled instead of fried. If your meal includes sauces, see if you can get them on the side.
Circle the salad bar. You might think that salad is a safe choice, but it depends on the ingredients. See what’s available at the salad bar before you order. Go easy on the shredded cheese, bacon, and heavy dressings. Load up on leafy greens and other vegetables.
Have a snack. If you know that you tend to overindulge in birthday cake or barbecued ribs, curb your appetite before you leave home. Eat a cup of yogurt or hummus on baby carrots.
Limit alcohol. Cocktails contain a lot of empty calories and can make you crave cheeseburgers and buffalo wings. And if you must drink, Draw the line at one drink and make it wine or spirits with a zero-calorie mixer like club soda.
Planning ahead and building a strong support system will help you to slim down and still enjoy hanging out with your loved ones. After all, healthy eating and close relationships both play a big role in your happiness and well-being.
Overeating can have many causes, but they all produce the same result. You gain weight and feel like you’re out of control.
While you may be blaming yourself for lacking willpower or not trying hard enough, there could be something else at work. The real reasons why you eat more than you intend may surprise you, and many of them are relatively easy to fix.
There are many common lifestyle habits that tend to undermine a healthy diet. Take a look at this list to find out which things you’ll want to do differently.
Dealing with Eating Habits That Make You Overindulge:
Be flexible. You may think you’re being virtuous for starting a super-strict diet but being too rigid can backfire. Allowing yourself a few treats can keep you from feeling so deprived that you wind up eating a whole pizza.
Shrink your menu. On the other hand, planning your meals and snacks around a limited number of healthy foods can help you eat less. The lack of variety dampens your appetite.
Eat mindfully. A lot of overeating happens when you’re busy with something else. Sit down and pay attention to your food instead of watching TV. Beware of nibbling while you’re preparing meals or lingering at the table after dinner.
Slow down. A leisurely pace gives your brain time to tell your stomach that you’re full. Chew thoroughly and pause between bites.
Listen to cravings. Intense urges are usually trying to tell you something important. Eating light snacks can keep you from getting so hungry that you long for junk food.
Avoid low fat foods. Did you know that low fat foods are usually only about 10% lower in calories? Plus, they’re often higher in sugar and sodium, which can make you want to eat more.
Limit artificial sweeteners. Sweetness is one of the signs your brain uses to try to determine how much to eat based on how many calories a food has. Artificial sweeteners make those calculations difficult. Over time, your brain loses the ability to make correct judgements.
Dealing with Other Lifestyle Habits That Make You Overindulge:
Sleep well. A lack of sleep can make you want to eat more and make it difficult for your body to digest food efficiently. Go to bed early on a consistent basis so you can get at least 7 hours of sleep each night.
Socialize wisely. We tend to eat more when we have company. Be especially vigilant when you’re enjoying holiday dinners and office parties. Try to find a lunch mate who eats healthy, so you can support each other.
Exercise more. Physical activity burns calories and helps to fight depression and anxiety, which can lead to overeating. Aim to work out at least 30 minutes a day 3 times a week.
Deal with your feelings. While it’s natural to associate food with celebrations and comfort, it’s important to have other ways of managing your emotions. Call a friend or write in your journal.
Talk with your doctor. A slice of cake rarely does much harm, but sometimes there are deeper issues at work. If you binge frequently or feel guilty and ashamed about your eating, talk with your doctor. Effective treatments are available.
Understanding the reason why you overindulge is the first step in finding solutions that enable you to stick to a balanced diet and maintain a healthy weight. Use these tips to take control of your eating, so you can stay fit and enjoy your food more.
If you notice your weight starting to creep up once you hit 30, your lifestyle could be having more effect than you think.
We all know the obvious triggers such as eating too much and not doing much exercise, but there are some sneakier factors that can play a big part in weight gain.
Here are some of the most common ones to avoid so that you can keep your tummy trim and within a healthy weight range.
Too Much Stress
Struggling to keep your stress levels under control? There’s a good chance that it’s affecting your weight – especially for women.
Stress can cause cravings and impacts our hormones
Your body releases the stress hormone, cortisol, during stressful periods and this can send your blood sugar levels haywire. According to studies, high cortisol production leaves you craving sweet foods and means you’ll probably eat more calories.
Cortisol also changes how your body uses
glucose, makes it harder to burn fat and makes it easier to store fat. Women
likely to store fat on their stomach but this can also be true for men.
Abdominal fat has been linked to health
issues so it’s definitely something you want to keep to a minimum!
Falling Into Emotional Eating Habits
Not taking care of your wellbeing can mean that you eat in line with your emotions rather than when you’re genuinely hungry. Feeling sad, stressed, lonely, bored or disappointed can lead you to eat to fill an emotional void and crave particular foods (usually the unhealthy kind!).
You might feel a little bit better in the immediate aftermath but in the longer term, this type of emotional eating can have a big effect on your weight. Most of the time, you won’t get a signal to say that you’re full and it’s all too easy to find that you’ve eaten a lot more than you planned in a very short space of time. And you probably won’t feel any better afterwards. In fact, you may well feel a whole lot worse as it’s common for emotional eating to make you feel guilty and ashamed of your food choices.
Not Sleeping Well
Poor sleep quality makes you more likely to eat
more calories and gain weight. This is because it disrupts hormones that
control your appetite. Lack of sleep increases production of ghrelin and
decreases leptin levels, which means it’s harder to manage
Sleeping well is one of the underrated ways to
keep your weight in check as your levels of these hormones will be a lot more balanced.
Not Building Muscle Mass
If you spend a lot of time sitting down and
aren’t very active, you probably don’t have much muscle mass. This might not
seem like a big deal but it’s a common weight gain trigger.
Lean muscle boosts your
metabolism and makes it that little bit easier to burn calories. If you don’t
have much lean muscle, your metabolism doesn’t get this benefit and it’s harder
to burn calories.
One of the best
ways to build more muscle mass is through strength training. Don’t worry-
you won’t end up looking like a bodybuilder! The idea of strength training is
to build a toned body with minimal body fat rather than the bulky look we often
associate with weights.
Not Eating Enough
Being on a diet more often than not means you’re
definitely going to lose weight, right? Not always! Restricting your calorie
intake too much slows
down your metabolism and encourages the body to go into “starvation mode” so
that it can run on fewer calories. This also means you burn fewer calories too
as your body uses most of your intake to survive.
These kind of diets are very hard to stick to in
the long term. Chances are, you’ll go back to a less restrictive way of eating
but your body can still be more
likely to store fat. This is why many people find that they gain weight after
coming off a low calorie diet.
Eating “Low Fat” Foods
Just because a food claims to be “low fat”
doesn’t always mean that it’s going to help you to stay in shape. A lot of
supposedly “low fat” options are often high in sugar and salt to make them more
tasty and can also contain a lot of calories. Eat too many of these “low fat”
foods and you’re probably going to put weight on!
Tips for Avoiding These Triggers
So, what can you do to avoid these common
triggers and get your body in the best shape?
Eat a healthy, balanced diet that isn’t too restrictive on calories and stay away from “low fat” foods that can promote weight gain
Be physically active and help your body to gain a bit more muscle mass
Get plenty of sleep to keep appetite hormones in balance
Make stress reduction a big part of your self care routine and finding healthier ways to manage your emotions that don’t involve emotional eating
Adopting a more mindful approach to eating so that you don’t eat on autopilot
You’re going along sticking to your diet when suddenly you hit a bump in the road. Maybe you skip breakfast one day and wind up eating a double bacon cheeseburger for lunch because you’re so hungry. Maybe you enjoy healthy dinners, but you snack on potato chips afterwards because your stomach is rumbling.
Managing your weight is easier when you can control your appetite. The most common reason I find when my clients end up overeating or snacking between meals is they aren’t eating enough of the right things at meal times to keep them full.
Remember that hunger starts in your brain and so does the solution.
Try these tips for training yourself to eat
Changing What You Eat:
Consume more fibre. Foods rich in fibre fill you up faster partly because they tend to be bulky and take longer to chew. As a bonus, they’re often highly nutritious and reduce your risk for many serious health conditions. Good choices include most vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.
Increase your protein. Protein also discourages hunger, and it helps you conserve muscle mass. Muscles burn more calories than fat. Spread your protein out in each meal and snack so your body can use it effectively. Choose lean sources like low-fat Greek yoghurt and most seafood.
Drink water. Sometimes we confuse thirst with hunger. Drinking a glass or two of water before meals may help you to reduce your portion sizes.
Choose solid calories. Fancy coffee drinks and cocktails make it easy to down 600 calories or more before your brain knows what happened. Food you chew gives your brain more time to feel full.
Serve soup. The liquid in soup suppresses your appetite. Settle down with a bowl of minestrone on a cold winter day.
Load up on Veggies & Salad. The best way to ensure you stay full between meals isn’t to eat less volume of food, but fill up on salad and vegetables. Add a side salad or pile your plate high with vegetables and you will easily reduce your overall calorie intake, up your vitamin intake, and it will help you feel satisfied and full between meals.
Avoid artificial sweeteners. Using zero-calorie sweeteners can backfire. Scientists believe they prime your brain to want to eat more because they’re hundreds of times sweeter than sugar.
Changing How You Eat:
Act mindfully. Slow down and savour your food. You’ll digest it more completely, and you’ll probably eat less.
Buy smaller plates. Several studies confirm that food looks and feels more abundant when you place it on a smaller serving piece. It’s a simple way to have your cake and eat lighter too.
Sleep well. One of the reasons why a lack of sleep can cause you to gain weight is because you’re disrupting the hormones that regulate hunger. Get enough sleep. Ensure that you’re sleeping well, too. Go to bed and get up at the same time each day. Keep your bedroom as dark and quiet as possible.
Exercise regularly. Physical activity can help regulate your appetite in addition to burning calories and relieving stress. It’s a powerful combination for anyone who wants to make staying fit more pleasant.
Whittle your waist. The fat that accumulates around the midsection is especially harmful, raising the risk for heart conditions, diabetes, and certain cancers. There is also some evidence that it stimulates hunger hormones and the accumulation of fat. Focus some of your activities on waist-trimming exercises.
Seek support. The most effective plans incorporate social support. Let your family and friends know that you want to eat less and tell them how they can help you. For example, find some lunch companions whose eating habits will reinforce your healthy intentions.
It is possible to eat less and still enjoy
delicious food. Small changes in the way you eat add up to a big difference. Find the habits that work for you to
satisfy your hunger with fewer calories. Your brain and body will adjust to
and benefit from these healthy changes.
If you’re using a fitness tracker to help you sleep at night, your device could be what’s disturbing you! If you are like me, it could be as simple as it’s waking you up when the device lights up in response to movement, but for many people it’s more than that.
While monitoring your sleep can be beneficial, you might become so anxious that it keeps you awake! In fact, this disorder is so common that it has its own name. It’s called orthosomnia, which literally means correct sleep.
Calling it perfect sleep might be more
accurate since those affected usually
care more about reaching some specific sleep score instead of finding what
conditions they need to feel rested and refreshed in the morning.
Discover the truth about sleep trackers and
how to use them constructively.
Basic Facts about Sleep Trackers:
Focus on sleep quality. While getting 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night is a worthwhile place to start, it’s also important to address the quality of your slumbers. That may involve how much time you spend in light and deep stages of sleep and how many times you wake up during the night.
Check your device. Some wearables do nothing more than detect body movements, which may be adequate for counting steps but not for measuring sleep. Others are becoming more sophisticated but do your research to see if the manufacturer’s claims have been scientifically evaluated.
Consider a sleep lab. Most experts believe that a sleep lab is still the most accurate way to diagnose a sleep disorder because it measures a wide range of factors, including brain waves and eye movements.
Talk with your doctor. Your physician can help you address any concerns you have about your sleep. They can also provide referrals to specialists and sleep labs in your area
Stay updated. Some universities and nonprofits are working to make sleep technology more reliable. Keeping up with the latest information can help you to make healthier choices.
Natural Sleep Remedies:
Take a break. If you think you might be too preoccupied with the numbers you’re seeing on your sleep tracker, schedule a little time apart. Try listening to your body instead. If you wake up in the morning without needing an alarm and you feel energetic, you’re probably sleeping well regardless of your electronic score.
Maintain consistent bedtimes. Going to bed and getting up at about the same time each day is still one of the most reliable ways to beat insomnia. It’s a sound practice with or without any wearable device.
Eat light. Heavy late dinners and bedtime snacks can interfere with your rest. You should be eating enough at dinner that you don’t need to eat after, but if you are really hungry, just have a light snack.
Darken your bedroom. Dimming the lights prepares your brain for bed. Hang heavy drapes in your bedroom and turn off the bright screens on your phone and TV.
Block out noise. Are you bothered by heavy traffic and loud neighbours? Use a fan or pink noise recording to drown out background sounds.
Change your bedding. Tossing and turning could be a sign that you need a new mattress or pillow. Pick something that’s appropriate for your usual sleep position.
Avoid Alcohol. If you are finding it hard to go to sleep, or you are waking through the night, often times the culprit is that glass of wine or beer you had with dinner. Ditch the alcohol and see how much better you sleep.
About 1 in 5 Australians own a wearable device, and more than 10% are wearing sleep trackers on at least an occasional basis. If you’re one of them, ensure your device is really helping you. Talk with your doctor if you have any questions.
As long as you can use your sleep tracker
without feeling anxious, you may find that collecting your personal data
enhances the quality and quantity of your sleep.
Have you ever known someone who got so excited about their latest diet, only to fall off of the wagon a few weeks later due to hunger and frustration? Maybe you’ve been in that situation yourself. Certainly, many of us have.
Here’s some good news: It is possible to find a diet plan you won’t give up on and doesn’t feel like a diet; it just takes a little research and planning. To get started, follow these helpful tips for lasting diet satisfaction.
Ensure You Satisfy your hunger.
You might be trying to lose weight or prevent chronic disease but you still need to eat! Your body has a minimum number of calories per day that it needs to perform the most basic functions. So, you need to be careful with severely-restricted calorie diets.
Hunger is the number one reason for diet failure. It’s nearly impossible to stick to a plan that leaves you hungry all the time. You will find your thoughts turning to high-calorie foods quite often, and you won’t have a lot of energy or patience.
Avoid any diet that reduces your calories dramatically. Experts recommend eating between 1,200 and 2,000 calories a day for weight loss, depending on your current body weight. If you’re eating a reasonable amount but not feeling satisfied, you might want to add more protein, fibre and unsaturated fats to your diet. These foods will leave you feeling fuller longer.
Include foods you enjoy to avoid feeling deprived.
While you might need to make some adjustments to your usual eating plan,
you don’t want to depart too radically from the norm. You need a diet that
incorporates the food groups you enjoy most. For example, if you love fruit and
whole grains, you might want to avoid low-carb diets. If you’re more of a
carnivore, you won’t be satisfied with a vegetarian diet. Fortunately, there
are reasonably healthy diets to suit every palate.
Include a variety of foods to avoid boredom.
A funny thing happens when we eat the same things over and over again: Our cravings decrease, and we tend to eat less food per sitting. If this were a long-term effect, it would be easy to follow monotonous diets. However, the effect wanes over time, and feelings of deprivation set in.
From a health standpoint, variety is key. Our bodies work best when they receive fuel and nutrients from many different sources. Eating lots of different foods also keeps you from getting bored with the diet and makes you less likely to abandon it.
Make it easy to follow.
It’s hard enough keeping track of your calories or carbs each day, but some diets will have you counting points, weighing your food at every meal, and trying out bizarre food combinations to maximize weight loss.
There is no need to make elaborate preparations or to measure every morsel that passes your lips. Learn to estimate portion sizes on sight. For example, a serving of lean meat should be the size of your palm and a serving of healthy fat is the size of your thumb.
Don’t break your budget.
Diets that involve pre-packaged meals, shakes, bars and supplements can get very expensive very fast. Many dieters abandon these plans because they feel the results aren’t worth the price.
Choose a diet plan that uses regular foods you can purchase at the grocery store. You’ll avoid the extra cost (and often the extra sugar, sodium and chemical flavor enhancers) that pre-packaged diet foods entail.
Ensure it doens’t interfere with important medications.
This is especially important if you will be including grapefruit in the
diet. Grapefruit interferes with the metabolism of many medications and can
affect the dosage that is actually absorbed by the body. Check with your doctor
Focus on promoting long-term health.
For life-long success, you need a diet you can stick to for life. In
order to be able to stick to the plan for life, it should be a healthy one that
provides abundant nutrition and doesn’t place unrealistic restrictions on the
foods you can eat. Remember: Variety is the spice of life, and that includes
healthy lifestyle changes. Keep and food journal and monitor the foods you eat
by all means, but do indulge on special occasions.
Change up your meals frequently to avoid boredom, and add exercise to
make your body the healthiest it can be. Start with small, sustainable changes.
Soon, you won’t even feel like you’re on a diet. Your new habits will become
the norm, and you will simply be eating in a way that will keep you slim and
healthy for life.
How long do you tend to go without using technology? If you’re rarely parted from your smartphone and you’re always feeling the urge to check it (even when you know deep down you haven’t got any new messages!), it’s probably having a negative effect on your mental health.
Taking a step back from the stresses linked to technology is much more vital for self-care than you might think and not doing this can mean that anything else you do from a self-care perspective is a lot less effective. It’s therefore really important to think about technology’s place in your self-care plans and do yourself a favour by easing yourself away from it as much as you can.
Here’s why technology can be so damaging for your wellbeing and how you can work towards a technology ‘blackout’ that improves your self-care.
How technology can affect self-care
These days, most of us are glued to our smartphones or tablets and don’t take much of a break from them (or at all, in a lot of cases!). According to research, the average person checks their phone up to 10,000 times a year. That’s 28 times a day, or more than once every single hour. Scary stuff, when you think about!
Being so connected to the digital world can cause stress and anxiety, especially when it’s not possible to get online for a bit. There can be a few factors involved in this, including Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) on news or notifications and getting a dopamine rush similar to fuelling an addiction whenever our phone pings with something new. It’s often the case that we feel that we need to be in constant contact with technology and that we’re not really in control of this.
One of the best moves you can make from a self-care perspective involves weaning yourself away from technology – for days if you can manage it! It gives you back the control over when you use technology and puts you in the much less stressful position of choosing to use it, rather than feeling compelled to. And that’s got to be a whole lot better for your wellbeing, right?
A digital detox of 24 hours (or longer) can have lots of wellbeing benefits. Lower stress levels, sleeping better and a stronger focus are just a few examples of the mental perks you’re likely to gain from switching off completely from your digital life for a day or so on a regular basis.
When your first instinct isn’t to check your phone as soon as you wake up, you’ll probably find that the day gets off to a calmer and more productive start. Plus, you’ll have more time to take care of yourself with healthy, nourishing breakfast too. Lots of potential for great self-care!
How to break free from technology
If your use of technology is affecting your wellbeing, you’ll definitely want to make technology free periods a key part of your self-care routine going forwards.
Here are a few steps to make it happen:
Time your check-ins: The ultimate goal is to get used to the idea of switching off from technology and not feeling stressed or anxious when you do it. This can be hard to do in reality and you might find it hard to turn devices off completely to begin with. If this is true for you, you might find it easier to try being parted with your phone (or other devices) for 15 minutes before you let yourself check in again. Once you feel more comfortable with this, you can go a bit longer between check-ins but it may take a while to get to this point if you’re super attached to your devices right now. Take things at the pace you need and know that even small wins are a big step towards better self-care.
Go to places you need to unplug in: If you’re going to places where using technology is a no-no, you’ve got no choice but to embrace it. Fitness classes and swimming pools are a couple of examples of this and as an added bonus, you’re engaging in another form of self-care: exercise!
Have a technology free hour: Once you’ve built up to going for an hour without using any form of technology, pick an hour every day where you’ll switch off, step away from all of your devices and chill out. An hour is your first goal but big bonus points if you can work up to having a tech ‘blackout’ for a whole weekend!
Have you tried to make changes in your life that didn’t stick?
Maybe you’ve bought and read plenty of self-help books and yet you still aren’t making or seeing the changes in yourself that you dream of? Are you wondering why that is?
Today I’m talking about why Self-Help Information doesn’t always stick or work for so many people….
What is self-help anyway?
Self-help is anything you’re doing for yourself with the “intention” of bringing you closer to becoming or being the person you want to be.
This can be related to your body weight, fitness, improving relationships, building social skills, finding happiness, your finances, or any other facet of your life.
There’s never been more information available to facilitate change, yet so many people are struggling to make meaningful progress toward becoming the wonderful, and happy, and successful people they aspire to become.
It can feel like there are many obstacles when implementing self-help advice. Most of the time is it all or some combination of the following.
Are you really, honestly, applying the information?
For example, losing weight is a form of self-help.
There is literally tonnes of information out there on how to lose weight. In fact, it would be challenging to find someone over the age of 10 that couldn’t give you a reasonable plan for losing weight.
The problem generally isn’t that the plans are wrong, it is more a matter of compliance. Once you have a viable plan, it’s important to stick with it and do what is required by that plan.
Often easier said than done, I know, but basically, information is pretty useless and will do nothing for you if you don’t apply it.
You feel that learning is the same as doing.
Sometimes we think that understanding is the same as doing. We think that if we can just learn enough then somehow some magic switch will flick in our mind and solve everything without putting in any real effort. If we can just find the bit of info that will change our mind, then everything will fall into place…
BUT, that’s like saying understanding how to do a push-up is the same as physically doing 100 push-ups each day. Knowing that push-ups are great for building upper body strength and wanting to have upper body strength is not the same as doing push-ups and having upper body strength. The same applies to any changes you want to make.
Knowing how to do something is not the same as actually doing it.
It’s necessary to put your understanding of a strategy into practice if you want to see it get results for you.
I didn’t get any traction in my life on the things I wanted until I decided it was time to stop the learning and it was time to take action ACTION TRUMPS LEARNING, EVERYTIME..The mind switch only get flipped after you start taking action and get some momentum.
Which leads me to mention….Procrastination.
Agh..Now, I’ve been guilty of this one, too. Self-help books can be so addictive! It’s an inexpensive way to feel like you’re addressing your challenges. Like “oh, I’ve bought that book and read it and know all this stuff and I’m going to do this plan (then never do)”
We buy into the marketing hype and think this next book is going to “fix me” (quote unquote)…but a book cannot do that, only following through on the recommendations of the book “might” do that, provided you are mostly convinced it is the right course of action in the first place AND it’s something you are prepared to do long term.
We get a good feeling of accomplishment from reading self-help articles and books or signing up for tha next programme. It’s like we have access to powerful information that the average person doesn’t have.
Feeling like we are “gonna” do something makes us feel better about ourselves in the moment and like the matter is sorted….
However, at some point, it’s necessary to put the books down and just get on with it and persist for long enough for our brain to come around.
Sorry, but reading self-help book after self-help book without taking action is just another form of procrastination.
How to know you’ve evolved more than you give yourself credit for.
Another reason is people also give up too soon.
We want results now, dammit! We get impatient, decide what we are doing it isn’t working and throw in the towel far too soon.
It takes time to lose weight, sometimes the scales don’t move for days and we think the diet isn’t working. It also takes time to save money, improve your writing skills, or rid yourself of bad habits like smoking.
In general, the longer you’ve been struggling with a particular issue, the longer it will take to move beyond it.
The neural pathways in your brain have worn deep habit grooves that take perseverance and persistence to break and form new connections, pathways in your mind, in other words ‘new habits that serve you’.
Just keep at it though, bit by bit you will get better and it and in time, you will succeed. Try different things and add more actions each time.
I can’t tell you know many attempts it took me to quit smoking, I lost count, but I’ve been smoke free for like, 10 years now. No going back. The habit of ‘not smoking’ is firmly entrenched in my mind now, I never think about smoking anymore…other than that it was something that I used to do.
When you keep trying something repeatedly, it sends a message to your brain that you really do want to do this new thing, your mind really only does what it thinks you want it to do, sometimes it just needs a bit of persuasion!
Sometimes you need to add outside accountability and support (like quitline, a coach/mentor/counsellor, meetups)
remove the substance you wish to avoid from your home (food, cigarettes, alcohol),
immerse yourself in listening to podcasts, watching videos and reading about the topic
avoid situations and places that trigger you
reduce stress in your life from other areas, when we are upping the stress in one area of our life to make a change, we need to temporatily make sacrifices in another, like saying no to a couple of party invites if you think it is going to blow your new healthy eating regime.
If you aren’t prepared to be persistent, maybe what you’re really failing to appreciate how resistant you are to change?
Change is actually much more challenging than most people realize. We have many built-in survival mechanisms that make us resistant to change.
You might be miserable as you are now, but you’re alive. That’s enough to keep the primitive part of your brain satisfied. Better the devil you know, right? Your brain views change as risky, even good changes!
Ever noticed how, when you try to make a change, from no where you can feel under pressure, stressed, and a little irritable? That is your brain trying to stop you from making a change! Don’t fall for it. Like a toddler throwing a tantrum until it gets its own way, you really mustn’t give in or your brain will only repeat the performance next time it wants to get its own way.
Changing slowly making small changes, one at a time – may be really frustrating, but it has a much better chance of success. Your subconscious is less resistant to small changes. Plus, they’re easier to add into your regular routines and life.
I’m afraid it’s not enough to just decide a change is necessary. As frustrating as it is, the inertia of sticking with your old patterns is easier than changing. You brain likes things to be the same, it loves routines and habits that it can fall back on without having to work so hard.
Assuming you can drive, remember how hard and how much you had to concentrate when you first learned to drive a car? Think now how you can drive home, pull in the garage, walk inside and feel the shock of not remembering the drive home?
Ever thought you would go a different way home for an errand and found you went into autopilot and whoops, drive straight past the turn off?
That’s your brain doing what it does! Your subconscious brain is like the autopilot for your life, doing the things that it thinks you want it to do, because you told it to, over and over and over.
Since our conscious mind can only focus on so much at one time, our deeper mind learns and then takes over doing repetitive things to free up cognitive load so that you can focus on other things. You have to tell you brain what you want it to do, a lot! You’ve got to be persistent if you want to teach that old dog some new tricks.
This is one of the main reasons that I believe diets fail, too many changes all at once!
Your brain just can’t keep up with too much change at once, the cognitive load and drain on willpower is too much…..
one thing at a time is a much more sustainable approach, not what people want to hear, I know, but like I tell my clients, it’s better to start off with a small change that you nail and succeed with, layered on another small change and get the snowball effect over time…
it doesn’t look like much is happening at first, but one day you look back at the path behind you and see that snowball has cleared a massive path through the trees and now there is no one, no way, no how that is stopping, it has momentum of it’s own.
Now, all of that is excellent, I hear you say. But. but…Yes, none of that will work if you’re not really willing and ready to transform yourself.
You aren’t making an identity change
Look, if you want to be wealthy, it’s not enough to adopt a few habits around saving and investing.
You need to become a person that values and appreciates the building of wealth. You must believe that becoming wealthy is something worthy of your time and attention.
You’ve got to change your perspective and beliefs to accommodate the idea of the person you want to be.
You’ve got to start from your core and work your way out. Make an identity change, if you will. Decide who you want to be, do the actions that that sort of person does and then the outside stuff falls into place. Eat and move the a way a slim person does, and start to live that way.
I see so many people setting weight loss goals where they lose weight, but they aren’t “becoming” the sort of person who is slim! They may do something temporary to shift weight, but then return to their old ways once the diet is over and guess what? They regain the weight.
If you want to be a slim person, how do they live? What do they think? How do you be like them? Do those things and “be” like them and you will be slim, the outside stuff like weight loss manifests from doing the work on the inside.
Self-help materials provide the opportunity learn how to make those important changes in your life.
They provide information and inspiration and motivation and hope, but, it is still up to you to apply the information to your life and to perform that transformative work on yourself.
Self-help is some of the hardest work you’ll ever do. It can be a really bumpy ride. These things don’t happen in a straight linear progression, there are always highs and lows and setbacks in your journey, oftentimes it feels like 2 steps forward and one step back, but even at that you at least you are still moving forward.
So, make small changes, one at a time, your efforts over time it will add up to make those bigger changes you want.
Don’t let slow progress discourage you, progress is progress, it doesn’t matter how long it takes you to get there, this isn’t a race, you’ll get where you want to go and make those dreams of yours come true.
Remember, there is only one person who can change where you are today and where you will be tomorrow, and that’s you.
Do you tend to start off the year with a lot of excitement and enthusiasm about what you’ll change and find your motivation waning by February?
If this sounds familiar, your willpower may not be the real problem. It may be down to your choice of resolution(s) in the first place, especially if you’re picking ones that are likely to end in disappointment in the long run, and how you approach it.
These tips should help you to create resolutions that you find a lot easier to keep!
Keep things simple
Do you often come up with a fairly long list of resolutions? This could be a big part of the reason why you struggle to see them through. Spreading yourself too thinly between different resolutions is one of the main reasons why people fail with New Year goals.
To increase your chances of success, don’t feel that you need to overhaul everything you feel is wrong with your life in one go. Chances are, you’ll quickly get overwhelmed and feel frustrated that you’re not getting anywhere.
You’re more likely to succeed with New Year resolutions if you concentrate your efforts on just one or two areas and do them well. Pick just the one big goal, such as losing weight or quitting smoking, as this is going to take a lot of your energy and focus.
You’re less likely to have issues with your willpower if you’re more realistic with the goals you set yourself. Get that right and you’ll find it a lot easier to stick to resolutions!
Set yourself bite-size goals
Within your one or two big resolutions, working towards a big end goal can be daunting. When you first set a resolution, it can feel like you’re a million miles away from getting there. The end result? You’re more likely to give up altogether.
One way around this involves breaking down resolutions into mini goals that help you to see your progress more easily. Ideally, this will involve goals that can be measured.
If you’re planning to lose weight, set a target for how much weight you’ll aim to lose each week. Or if you’re aiming to up your intake of leafy greens, aim for at least one serving most days.
Once you’ve broken your goals down like this, make a point of checking in with yourself regularly to see how you’re doing with them. If you can see yourself making progress, there’s much more chance that you’ll keep working towards achieving the bigger picture. As you make progress, you may need to tweak your mini goals to help you get there.
Reward your progress
You don’t need to wait until you get to the end goal to reward yourself.
The great thing about mini goals is the opportunity to give yourself an incentive to keep going whenever you make progress towards the bigger resolution.
Just make sure it’s not something that will ruin your hard work to date. No sweet treats if you’re trying to be healthier or lose weight! Think of some fun things you can do to celebrate your progress.
Write them down
Writing down your New Year resolutions and keeping them somewhere visible can keep you motivated and remind you of why you’re on the journey in the first place. You’ll feel more accountable to yourself and are more likely to be successful in keeping your New Year resolutions.
You can take this even further by journalling about your resolutions. By diving deeper into how you’re doing with them, you can see how you may be self sabotaging your goals … even without realizing that you are.
Affirmations are another powerful tool that can help you to stick to your New Year resolutions. Writing these down and repeating them every day is a great way to encourage your mind to embrace it as the truth.
Your affirmations don’t have to be complicated or profound. In fact, simple ones can work really well. Depending on your resolution, it may be along the lines of “I am calm under pressure” (if you’re resolved to stress less) or “I eat a healthy diet” (if better nutrition is your goal). Whatever you choose to say to yourself, it’s super important to make it a habit.
Accept that slip ups happen!
Resolutions are a challenge to keep and most people will have setbacks.
Let’s face it, it’s not realistic to think that it’s all going to be plain sailing when you’re making big changes to your lifestyle. If you encounter a setback on your journey, it’s not a sign that you’re failing or that you should give up on your goal(s).
How you handle setbacks is super important when it comes to keeping New Year resolutions.
Want to make sure that you can channel it in the right way? Have a think about what might have triggered setbacks and learn from it for the future.
Harness the power of accountability
Are you willing to declare your goal(s) to another human and commit to following though? When you share your goals with others, studies have shown that you are twice as likely to achieve your goals than if you keep them to yourself.
If you team up with an exercise buddy, you are far less likely to blow off your training session, similarly, having a coach (like me!), a personal trainer or other external person to report into at regular intervals makes it much more likely that you will stick with your health goals. Just having someone in your corner can make all the difference.