Strategies for lifestyle changes: Give yourself credit

As mentioned in an email post a few days ago, one of the mottos that I live my life by is "you get more of what you focus on". This means if you focus on good things, you'll see more of them and your life will become attuned to see the positives.


This is important when we are making lifestyle changes.  It's all too easy to get bogged down with the times when we slip or don't eat according to our plan, or forget to exercise.  But focussing on these negative aspects isn't as helpful as focussing on what we are doing right.

It is much better to tell ourselves "good job" or "well done" for those times in the day when we are successful and stick to our eating plan or lifestyle change.  Doing so builds our self-confidence and proves that we can take control and exert self-discipline.


In a study at the University of Pittsburgh, participants lost more weight if they practiced skills that increased their confidence, compared to participants who didn't acknowledge their successes.

Unsuccessful dieters tend to focus too much on their mistakes, viewing themselves as weak, bad or hopeless.  They tend to ignore the small daily successes and consequently don't gain a sense of self-efficacy - which is a belief that they can reach their goals.


It may seem a little odd to praise yourself but these new lifestyle skills we are learning don't come all at once.  It is a process and so acknowledging that you are breaking old habits helps build your confidence.

A nice idea to keep you motivated is to buy a small counter - like a knitting row counter or a counter app for iPhones/Androids (there are plenty to chose from).  Keep it in your pocket and every time you stick to your plan during the day and do something right, click the counter. At the end of your day, you'll see your daily "credit" and know that you've made a real achievement in changing old habits.


It may seem silly, but it does work.  Commit to just giving it a go tomorrow and see if it makes you feel better about yourself.
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One small change

After the holidays and maybe a few indulgences, many of us are trying to improve our diets and lifestyle. Whether you have made specific goals or resolutions, it often helps to just consider one small change.



Big goals are important, but in order to achieve them, it takes many small steps.

So instead of focusing on big goals, go for one small change every day - all in the direction of your big goal.



Here are some examples:

Split second changes:

  • order salad dressing on the side, and dip your fork into the dressing rather than pouring it all over the salad
  • at the supermarket, select brown rice instead of white rice
  • choose a smaller portion of meat
  • drink another glass of water
  • chose not to have dessert
  • select a fruit or vegetable from the store that you've never tried before
  • add a tablespoon of ground flax seed to your cereal
Five minute changes:
  • make your own oatmeal for breakfast and omit the sugar but add some fruit instead
  • make your own trail mix with dried berries and nuts
  • meditate for 5 minutes
  • chop up some leafy greens and dry (oil free) stir fry to add to your dinner
  • at the end of the day, write down three things that you are grateful for that day
Ten minute changes:
  • exercise for an extra ten minutes - or start out with ten minutes.  If you goal is to walk for 30 minutes a day, split it into 3 ten minute intervals. You'll get the same benefits.  
  • make a salad to go with, or replace, a meal
  • try a new recipe
  • play for 10 minutes! Have some fun.

All day changes:

  • gather up and throw out all the candy and chocolate in your house. If you don't see it, you'll think less about it and won't be able to eat it.
  • pour a large jug of water in the morning - flavor it with hibiscus tea for added antioxidants - and drink it throughout the day
  • take a break for 5 minutes every hour - and just move, stretch, relax your eyes by focusing on something in the distance, have some water
  • tell a friend about what you are doing to make healthier lifestyle choices and support each other throughout the day


Big Difference Poster
Think ahead and plan "what will be my small change today?"

Daily small changes will result in big lifestyle changes.  You can do it!  Just 7 small split second changes in one week can bring a difference.  Think what you can achieve with a whole year of daily changes!


Let me know what small change you make tomorrow.
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