We all know that lifestyle change is the key to success with dieting, and that making lasting changes can lead to greater success in life. At the same time, we have a tendency to avoid committing to change, because let’s face it: Lifestyle changes can be very hard to implement. Following through can be hard, and even simple habits like taking the stairs instead of hopping onto the nearest elevator can be tough to establish.
Follow The Self-Determination Theory
There is one certain way to make any habit stick, and that is to zero in on a psychological principal called the Self-Determination Theory. According to this theory, enjoyment can motivate you, but value can be even more motivating. Additionally, the highest motivation comes when you choose to make changes that are both enjoyable and valuable.
In even simpler terms, you need to feel as if you are working toward a goal that means something to you personally. If at any point you feel as if you are being controlled, restricted, trapped, or forced into making a change, you will probably fail. The changes you make need to be important to you, and you need to be doing them for yourself, rather than to satisfy others or meet cultural standards that don’t really resonate with who you are.
Set Yourself Up for Success
If you set yourself up for failure, guess what? You probably won’t succeed. So choose to set yourself up for success by creating a supportive environment that will help you meet your goals. Consider the way an average day plays out when you do this.
- Where do you go?
- Where do you get your food?
- How do you work activity into the picture?
- How do you spend your free time?
- What do you enjoy doing?
- Are there good-for-you foods that you really love eating?
Consider your routine from the time you wake up until the time you go to sleep. Do you ever engage in mindless eating or skip exercise? Why, and what is happening during these times? Make a few notes if you need to, and think of ways to alter your environment, your commute, or other factors that would support a new, healthy lifestyle change.
Anticipate Pitfalls and Create a Strategy for Dealing With Them
Be kind to yourself, and at the same time, recognize that you are human, and that you’re likely to stumble along the way to better health. Know in advance how to get yourself back on track when that happens. Will you do a quick smoothie detox? Will you put your gym bag and a healthy snack in the car each night? Will you listen to your favorite motivational speaker? Remember to pick something that feels good. The point isn’t to punish yourself – it’s to help yourself heal and improve your situation so that you can enjoy a better life.
You are a complex individual with unique emotions, thought patterns, and daily habits that contribute to your overall lifestyle. All of these can help you succeed, so long as you develop – and stick to – your chosen strategy for lifestyle change.