I get it, you have big goals. You want to change your diet, change your activity level, and change your weight. You also want to change as fast as possible. It’s easy to fall into a trap of reading every article you come across, bookmarking a series of websites, and taking the “advice” of everyone in your newsfeed. Before long, your brain is full of ideas of what to change, but do you know how to foster real change and avoid common pitfalls that limit success?
Pitfall #1: You feel like a tourist.
If your new changes have you feeling like a tourist in your own “world” then you may also be feeling like you can’t wait to leave that world and go back to your “native habits.” In other words, if it all feels strange and different to you, then you will likely only maintain those changes for a short period of time. Indeed, the minute life gets busy or challenging, you’ll find that your “tourist” lifestyle isn’t working.
Solution: Meet small, sustainable goals to create successful, lasting change. Yup, slow and steady truly does win this race. Changes need to feel like they are a natural fit so that they can seamlessly become part of your lifestyle.
Pitfall #2: Your diet doesn’t fit your lifestyle.
If your new diet is hard to manage, doesn’t fit your schedule or generally makes things harder instead of easier, then you aren’t likely to follow it for long. After all, you may be seeking a challenge (i.e., adopting healthier eating and regular exercise), but you aren’t seeking a challenging schedule that’s impossible to keep up with.
Solution: Yes, it takes a bit of discomfort to meet a goal. Your alarm may have to go off earlier than you’re used to so that you can hit the gym before work, or you may need to watch your favorite evening show while also prepping foods for the next day. But it can’t mean that you do this everyday or that you take on more than you can handle within your week.
Pitfall #3: Your shopping list is too expensive.
As a retail dietitian, I frequently see this pitfall, which is often the result of following all those websites and other online advice. Before you know it, you need to expand your grocery list to include new and expensive ingredients that you wouldn’t typically purchase and sometimes aren’t sure how you will use.
Solution: While there may be some new ingredients that you haven’t purchased before, you shouldn’t feel like you need to invest in expensive powders and supplements to be successful. Keep in mind that ultimately, you are seeking a nutritious, lower calorie diet to achieve weight loss. In this light, it’s important to recall that natural and organic foods, for example, are not more going to help you achieve this goal more than other foods.
Pitfall #4: It’s so complicated.
When we have so many “voices” telling us how to change, it can turn into a complicated cacophony of “advice” that doesn’t make any sense. Furthermore, if we try to follow all this guidance, the result could be too much focus on the “methods” and “rules” of the diet, rather than how you will personally adopt those ideas.
Solution: Slow down, think about your personal barriers to change, and take the moments you need to navigate ways to overcome them. While this approach may not seem that exciting, and it can’t be bought in a bottle, it’s the approach you need to create a strong foundation that will lead to successful change.
The Bottom Line
Adopting a new diet and healthy lifestyle is simple when you identify the steps you need to take and the simple changes you are ready to make today. Take change one achievable step at a time: you’ll be running before you know it.