Now's a good time to talk about change. Not change for the country -- though that is surely coming, I mean personal change.
Healthy lifestyles don't just happen, the way dust balls do. It's up to you to carpe diem, to let go of old habits so you can dance with new ones -- two steps forward, one step back -- until the new ones become a juicy and joyful part of your life.
It all begins and ends with you, your readiness, your determination, your support system, your willingness to do something as silly sounding as keeping a journal.
As the country gets ready for this change, let me share a user-friendly, three step plan for you to consider when it comes to making a positive change in your own life:
STEP ONE: DECIDE ON ONE THING. Keep it simple. Pick one goal, something that will spark joy and satisfaction when you reach it. Be specific. Don't just say something like, "I want to get in shape." That's not a goal; it's a prayer. Goals that motivate are SMART goals: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound.
Maybe you want to comfortably walk a 10-mile trail with a 20-pound backpack. Or get certified in scuba diving. Or -- I'm cheering for this one because it saves so much money and weight gain -- learn to cook simple, tasty meals using real food.
(Your goal is 100 percent your choice; I'm just tossing stuff out here.)
Just remember this No. 1 rule from the Making Change playbook: You can't change because someone else wants you to. You can't stop smoking, start jumping rope, learn to meditate, or "just say no" to chocolate chip cookies because your spouse, your children or your doctor wants you to. It's a decision you must make for yourself -- honestly, fearlessly and authentically
And if you're not really ready to give up cigars, limit sugar and find ways to be physically active 30 minutes a day: Don't beat yourself up. Accept yourself as you are, because it's from that place of kindness and self-confidence that change ultimately can happen.
Setting too high a goal will be counterproductive. Better to be successful at a small, doable goal than fail at something impossible. Translation: Better to train for a 5K and triumph than plan for a marathon and suffer.
Once you decide on your one goal, write it down.
STEP TWO: KEEP A JOURNAL. Stop that groaning. Keeping track of your journey by writing stuff down is a time-honored way to help you succeed at making change. We forget. We lose focus. We need reminders of how far we've come.
So write your goal in your journal, and on the next page, write "Week One," with the dates and days included.
Detail the three actions you'll take in the next week to move toward your goal.
Be specific. Write out your action steps.
Here's an example from someone who wants to get back in shape: "I will take a 6 p.m. yoga class at Yoga Source three times a week, on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays, and strength train with weights at home for 30 minutes on Wednesday mornings from 7:30 to 8 a.m."
You can check back with your action steps weekly or daily, but daily is best.
STEP THREE: REVIEW AND REJOICE. At the end of every week, review how well you did moving yourself closer to your goal. Be kind. OK, maybe you said you'd do three workouts and you only did two. Or you promised to eat no sweets whatsoever and you found yourself tearing into a forgotten Snickers bar in the bottom of your gym bag. No shame, no blame.
Just take it as it is, focusing not on failures but on what went well. Stay strong and confident. You can do this!
And every week for the next 12, begin again.
If you can find a wellness coach to work with you, that's ideal. If not, stay the course, and when the 12 weeks are over, give yourself a reward -- a massage, a golf lesson (maybe that's not a reward) -- just for showing up.
healthy lifestyle expert,
well being coach