“A year from now you will wish you had started today.”
Finish this sentence, “Change is _______.” I can guess that the majority of people respond with, “good”. Well if that is the case, why aren’t more people changing their unhealthy habits? Now I am still in my rookie season as a changer, but I would venture to guess that the answer is because change is also….scary…hard…uncomfortable. Take your pick. Victor Frankl, famed psychologist and Holocaust survivor, said that all humans seek pleasure and avoid pain. Changing long standing habits is seen by us as painful. It requires mental and physical effort in a life that is already filled to the max with things that require effort and energy. The problem with this is, if we associate more pain with change than pleasure, we will continue to stay in our old habits. This is tough because oftentimes when we change, the results are not immediate. In our culture of immediate gratification, this can be difficult, because living the way we have is satisfying on some level (otherwise we wouldn’t do it), and in order to continue to stick to our new behaviors, the delayed gratification must be enough to get us through. I believe there are a number of ways we can help give ourselves an initial push to get started. There is a long standing belief that if you just maintain a behavior for 21 days it will become a habit. I’m not going to argue what the correct number of days are, but this seems close. Darren Hardy, author of The Compound Effect, said that in any new endeavor the hardest part, the part requiring the most amount of energy is the beginning. He stated that a space bound shuttle spends 90% of its fuel just getting out of the earth’s atmosphere. The effort never ends, but it does get easier. So, I thought it might be helpful to offer a few tips that helped me as I was starting my new healthier habits. Again, this is more like a rookie journal than expert advice, but here it goes…
1. Make doing what you’ve been doing painful. My friend, Kyle Morrow, convinced me to give stickk.com a try. The basic premise for me, was I set a weight loss goal for a weekly amount over a certain amount of time and then weighed in every week. As long as I met or exceeded the goal, I was good. However, if I didn’t, $15 would be deducted from my bank account and given to charity. It is free to use the site…unless you don’t meet your goal. I started out with $500 dollars on the line, and I can proudly say, that at this point, I have not given any money to charity…wait is that something I should be proud of? But, making my current behaviors painful, gave me the initial push I needed to apply the changes in my life. I remember early on when I didn’t want to go for a walk or eat primal, thinking about losing money and I, more often than not, made the right choice.
2. Make it public. Initially, I was embarrassed of my weight and didn’t want anyone to know. However, I chose my 3 closest friends and disclosed what I weighed and what I was trying to weigh. They were supportive and awesome, just like the people who care about you in your life will be. So, I didn’t post my weight on Facebook and make a public declaration that I was on a lifestyle transformation journey, but I did let some people know. That was important. On a side note, when I stalled a few months in, I was convinced to post a picture of my weight on Facebook every week. Again, I had to make it uncomfortable to keep doing the same thing. If you want different results, you have to be willing to do things differently. Adding eyeballs to my weigh ins added more healthy pressure.
3. Have something you’re working toward. Why do you want to achieve what ever goal you’re trying to accomplish? Me, I want to drop the weight so that when I go to Hawaii in August I can really enjoy every minute. I have already decided to jam pack my days with fun stuff (zip line, paddleboarding, ATVs, etc) and I want to be able to really do it up and have fun. I do think about this from time to time when I’m suffering through 150 push ups or some extended plank time, and it gives me a little added extra boost.
Again, I’m not giving any earth shattering stuff, but all of these things really helped me succeed in an area where I had failed often.
EVERY DAY GETTING BETTER