They say that getting started is the hardest part but I don’t agree with this. It can be hard and it often is hard because you make it hard, usually by trying to do too much too soon. With the right approach, starting can be easy and exciting. First thing you have to do is stop telling yourself that getting started is hard, stop believing this because that alone makes it hard! Start saying ‘starting something new is exciting and easy’ instead.
Here is how you can make getting started easy and exciting! I’m talking about healthy eating here but you can apply these same steps to anything else.
1. Baby steps. Every big achievement is a sum of small steps.
If your diet is really bad, becoming a healthy/clean eater can seem as hard as the thought of running a marathon to a person who hates running. The task is just too overwhelming, so you never start, instead, you’ll order a pizza… and then feel guilty… which leads you to eat a tub of ice cream…. and so on.
Take your eye off the prize for a moment and instead, aim to just improve, not be perfect. Take one step at a time and give yourself plenty of time. Can you change just 10% per month? That means in 8 months your diet will be pretty amazingly clean, (though I’d recommend you give it 10 months because there’s always a little back and forth). Next year this time? You’ll be a completely new person.
2. Start with something easy.
Pick just one thing to start with and pick the easiest thing, something you are pretty confident you’ll be able to do. For example: drink more water, eat a healthy breakfast every day, replace your unhealthy snacks with healthier alternatives, start having snacks regularly, bring your own lunch to work, eat more green stuff, sleep more, walk more, find 4 healthy dinner recipes and start making these regularly, stop getting takeaways, reduce your caffeine or alcohol intake…. Then next month, pick another habit and then another one the following month and another one….
3. Aim low (and overachieve, rather than aim high and fail)
When it comes to fitness and health, people want fast results which means they to aim too high, then fail and feel crap about themselves (which leads them to order another pizza…). Slow down a bit and you’ll go much further in the long run. Let’s say this month you’ve decided to improve your breakfasts. Instead of aiming to do this every day from week one, aim to do it just three times the first week. That’s all. Anything more than that and you’re over achieving – woohoo! Once it gets easier, aim for four times and soon you’ll really want to do it every day because you realise that you feel much better on the days you have a good breakfast. Compare how you’d feel doing this and managing to have healthy breakfast five days a week, compared to how you’d feel if you aimed for seven and ‘only’ achieved five.
5. Be motivated by self-love, not self-hatred
People tend to want to improve their diet or lose weight because they are unhappy with their bodies and/or worried about their health. It often feels like a punishment, you’re not good enough. This mentality is fuelled by the media, the diet and fitness industries and even government bodies and awareness campaigns that lecture us about the dangers of being overweight nonstop. You need to ignore all this and instead decide to do it because you want to do it because you love yourself and believe that you deserve the best. Do it because you deserve to be treated well, feel energetic, be healthy and live a long and healthy life. Do it because you’ve had enough of hating yourself and abusing yourself with foods and lifestyle choices that make you sick and now you want to show yourself some respect. Do it because YOU want to do it, not because someone tells you to do it. And when you start changing your lifestyle, then just do your best and don’t let anyone tell you’re not doing it well enough.
6. Focus on the present – feel good today!
When you’re motivated by self-hatred, you’re always focused on your goal, e.g. the hot bikini body, you won’t be happy until you get there, so you don’t feel that great about yourself because you’re not there yet, you’re not good enough. When you’re motivated by self-love, it’s much easier to focus on today and notice how good you feel (even if you haven’t lost a pound) when you eat well. You’ll notice little changes like how well you sleep, you’re less stressed, your skin is glowing, you enjoy fuelling your body with good food, you no longer hate yourself so much, you no longer feel so guilty…. Learning to enjoy the process and being happy with yourself now, is what’s going to make the journey easy and enjoyable and it’ll guarantee that once you get to your target, it’ll be easy to continue with your good habits and keep the weight off.
That’s it! Now go get started right now, don’t wait until tomorrow. Do just one healthy thing right now – have a glass of water with lemon, prepare tomorrow’s breakfast or switch off your tv/smartphone/iPad and go to bed early. You deserve it.