It’s the second week of January and most people’s New Year’s Resolution for weight loss is already gasping for breath. For me – a weight loss coach – those dying gasps take the form of desperate email pleas and phone calls from wanna-be clients begging for help with their failed new year’s resolution. In most cases their resolutions were doomed before baby New Year even made an appearance. The problem is not faulty motivation. The problem is faulty planning.
I wrote a post last week about making ONE New Year’s Resolution. I even suggested a resolution for you – (add joy into your life). One of the keys to making a resolution that you can stick to is keeping it small and specific. I tend to like commitments that are ridiculously easy – that way your brain can’t conjure up excuses to sabotage your efforts. I also like commitments that add something to your life. I’m not a fan of away sorting – especially for long-term goals. Too often our commitments are all about deprivation and punishment – two things none of us can stick to in the long run. So why set yourself up for frustration and failure when you could simply start on a path leading to success?
The key is to simplify your plan.Think about your big goal. This could be losing weight, fitting into a new jean size, or getting fit enough to run a 5k or walk around the block. Pick ONE goal to work on this year. Make it specific with a real measure of success (finishing a 5k, comfortably wearing a size 9, wearing a swimsuit in Hawaii in November, lowering your cholesterol or blood pressure to a certain number, etc.)
Now that you have your year-long goal, too often, our weight loss commitments end up looking like a laundry list of things we’re going to do without. They tend to go something like this:
For the month of January I commit to eating more healthy. This means I will not drink soda, or eat cookies, brownies, ice cream and cake. I will not eat anything processed like chips or crackers, and I will not eat anything white like white flour, sugar, or potatoes. I am going to only eat fruits, vegetables, and nuts this month and I will see how I do. – Janie
It doesn’t take a weight loss coach to tell you how the month of January is going to turn out for Janie. Do you think she even got through one successful day with this plan? (She didn’t). And it’s not hard to see why she failed. So, how can we reconfigure this commitment in a way that sets Janie up for success?
Remember our guidelines: Create one commitment per week or month that will move your closer to your goal. Make that commitment an action that’s moving you closer to what you want, not something that’s asking you to give up something.
For the month of January I commit to eating more healthy. This means I will eat one additional serving of vegetables every day. That’s it. That’s the whole commitment. There is no talk about what you’ll have to give up and no laundry list of things to change. There is only one simple, ridiculously-easy-to-implement commitment.
Finally, hold yourself accountable. Create a system to keep track of your success. Record it in your calendar, cross it off your to do list, or use Jerry Seinfeld’s productivity secret and keep a success chain some place visible – your refrigerator door may be a good place for this. Or get a smart phone app like Wonderful Day to track your success. Whatever you do, monitor how you are doing with your commitment. Once you’ve made one action a habit (21 days to 2 months for something simple like this) choose another simple commitment and begin practicing it.
Take a moment and think about what you are creating with these three simple acts. What if you managed to build 12 healthy new habits this year? How would that change your life (and your weight)? Imagine how you’d feel. Imagine what you’d do. Imagine what else you would add into your more healthy life. Then rewrite your New Year’s Resolution. Start with the one we talked about last week. Spend one month adding joy into your life every day. Then move on to things like eating one more serving of vegetables, trying one new piece of fruit, and adding 30 seconds of movement into your life every day. Be sure to check back and report your progress in our comments section. Most importantly, keep growing that success chain.