Gradual changeRadical change will get you nowhere. Instead, I’d like to introduce smaller, gradual changes that you can stick to without too much effort at once. In doing so, we aim to turn bad habits into good ones. Through this process of gradual adaptation, we will develop a balanced diet in nutrition and quantity, and we will adapt to an active lifestyle. Those habits are for everyone, no matter whether the goal is to lose or gain weight, to be sportier or just to improve your well-being. Everybody knows how hard it is to change behavior that was ingrained into our minds like scar tissue from an accident. But no open heart surgery is needed to make subtle changes to our dietary habits and attitude towards sporting activities to permanently feel better. I’d like to think that everybody knows that a “junk foody” diet or a lack of exercise is not good for them in the long run. In short-term, many folks try to alter their diet to reach some arbitrary “I have to look like this when x has come” goal. Often this goal is related to a seasonal clothing style. 🙂
Lasting resultsBut what if you could adopt general behavioral changes that let you achieve these desires to be healthier and in shape, for good. There are a couple of faults in the way people would like to be or want to look like, and, most of all, how they aim to achieve those “goals”. We are all lazy, which makes us think that there should be a quick and easy way to implement changes in behavior. What is left out of the equation most of the time is that we humans like routines. That’s the way our brains are wired. We repeat something over and over again until we do them automatically. Ais the mental state of least effort. And with the right strategy and a little persistence, it shouldn’t be too hard to slowly change to achieve a major objective. Over the course of the next half-year, you and I are going to reach a primary goal of being healthier. Every other week I will point out a new habit that we then add to the ones we’ve already adopted. That way it won’t be too much pressure at once, and we can adapt to the new habits gradually. If it is a habit you already practice, that’s even better.
What preparation does it take to achieve our goal?
Be goal oriented (have a concrete plan)The goals people set are usually too vague, which makes it hard to imagine how to achieve them. Instead of “I want a flat belly, to be sportier, or to eat healthier”, it is better to make clear, measurable, and most of all achievable statements. “I want to lose 10 kg in 20 weeks so that I fit into my old pants again.”
Set milestones (chunk it up)Our brains are not made to keep track of long-term plans. So chunk your goal up into smaller milestones to help your brain to keep track of progress. To take the example from before, 10 kg in 20 weeks would, for instance, make a milestone of 500 grams of weight loss every week. Write down your overall goal and your milestones and put them in a place where you can see them every day. Be as precise as you can. Before we start in two weeks, I want you to build awareness of your current eating and exercise habits. So let’s tackle the following questions to get a better sense of what you eat compared to what your body needs. Write down:
- How many calories do you currently burn in a day? (Just once)
- Calculate your basal metabolic rate (BMR) with the widget at the end of the article
- How many calories will you burn a day when you reach your goal? (Just once)
- Calculate your goal BMR (calculations as above, but with your goal weight)
- If you don’t want to change how much you weigh, skip this step
- What is your daily consumption over the next two weeks? (daily task)
- To get a sense of how much (calorie wise) you actually eat
- Use an app to make it easier to keep track (I use myfitnesspal)
- Everything you need to know is printed on food packaging or the internet if you search for ‘nutrition’ or ‘calories’ after the foods you want to know more about
- Pay particular attention to processed foods, especially how many calories they contain compared to your BMR