How to Make a Lifestyle Changes Seem Less Overwhelming
It’s no secret. A good chunk of Americans live in a world of convenience, or at the very least, an illusion of it. Buying and selling goods, entertainment, communication, is faster than ever in the last 3 decades. However, the hefty price of convenience on this scale is complete and utter complacency. We don’t demand quality because we have quantity and it shows itself the most in our obesity crisis.
So, when someone like a doctor or a fitness trainer tells you that it is time to make a “lifestyle change” the idea sounds overwhelming. A lifestyle change. That is literally the definition of uprooting yourself from what you are familiar with and foraying into unknown territory.
But if we don’t do something about it and ignore this problem we will pay for this in our quality of life. Especially in the form of chronic disease and a shorter, more physically painful lifespan. So, what can we do to change our circumstances without feeling like this is too much to bear? Well, doing these things might make the transition much easier, and the results longer lasting.
The more we stay in denial, the more likely we will just blow off taking any step towards a lifestyle change.
If you know what you are getting into, you are more likely to make better choices, and do better as a result. This is exemplified by a study published in London 2002, ” The study was a postal survey, using 1040 adult participants selected at random from General Practitioners’ lists in England. Nutrition knowledge and food intake followed the expected demographic patterns. Knowledge was significantly associated with healthy eating, and the effect persisted after controlling for demographic variables. Logistic regression showed that respondents in the highest quintile for knowledge were almost 25 times more likely to meet current recommendations for fruit, vegetable and fat intake than those in the lowest quintile.”
Even in the United States Department of Agriculture, as of 2012, it is generally recognized that when people are educated in matters of nutrition and healthy habits, they are more likely to make better food choices.
“Researchers found that participants that completed take-home activities adopted healthier behaviors and were more engaged in discussions about overcoming the challenges and barriers to purchasing, preparing and consuming fruits and vegetables.”
And it makes sense. If you know better, you are more likely to do better. So, look into credible sources that aren’t trying to sell you immediate results.
Take it One Step at a Time
The thought of a lifestyle change is terrifying. It is a drastic departure of what you are comfortable doing in your daily routine. So, instead of looking at the entire thing like an insurmountable task, why not introduce the changes that you need to make slowly?
Instead of trying to change your entire lifestyle overnight, you just make one good decision at a time. Just make one conscious positive decision at a time. For example, you could start by making a single nutritional or exercise goal for the first week. Then, you can add on a second one, then a third. Before you know it, you will look and feel so much better about yourself. And it didn’t seem all that painful.
Not only is this an easier concept for people to grasp, but it leads to long-lasting habits. According to an article written by Harvard Universtiy, “Often, the biggest hurdle is inertia. It’s true that it isn’t easy to change ingrained habits like driving to nearby locations instead of walking, let’s say, or reaching for a donut instead of an apple. However, gradually working toward change improves your odds of success. ”
However, just because you are not making all these changes at once does not mean you are completely off the hook. You still need to set a goal and keep track of things like calorie intake or exercise routines.
According to an article at NBCNews.com “There is no magic switch that makes you suddenly love running and eating kale. It takes some trial and lots of error to get to a place where healthy choices are second nature, and even then, it takes work every day. I realized that in order to get to where I wanted to be, I had to take a stepwise approach to behavior change. While it’s continually challenging, it’s also proven to be surprisingly manageable.”
It still takes real effort, but to expect immediate results is not only unrealistic, but it will also outright discourage you from making your lifestyle changes last.
Forgive Yourself and Move Forward
It does not help that society, in general, is a big fan of calling people out as “fat” and “unhealthy”. Look at any comment section on the internet and you can pick up the pattern immediately.
You would think that this overall tone of harshness towards obese people would make people aware of the situation and change their habits. But studies have shown that the exact opposite happens. People who feel bad about themselves aren’t motivated to explore a lifestyle change. Instead, they are more prone to accept their fate and stop trying altogether out of depression.
You might have tried dieting and exercise at some point in your life, failed, and stopped trying again. And it makes sense. People are often easily discouraged when they are trying something new, usually because there is a lack of a support system or resources. And that lack of self-confidence can be counterintuitive to your progress.
That’s why you need to overcome one of the biggest obstacles for your lifestyle change. Love yourself. Forgive yourself, and move on. You are where you are, and only you can decide to love yourself enough to change for your benefit. People who fat-shame aren’t concerned about your health. They just see you as an acceptable target.
That is why you should tell yourself it is okay to fail. It is okay to make mistakes, and its okay to try again.