Making lasting life style changes, especially in the context of fitness and weight loss, takes dedication — but it’s doable. Most people know to exercise regularly, eat well, and reduce stress in order to make a change for the better. But somewhere between knowing what to do and actually doing it, we fall into the “Abyss of Inertia.” Why is that? And what can we do to move from stuck to started?
It’s easy to be at level 1 (I’d like to lose 50 pounds) and wish to be at level 10 (I lost 50 pounds), yet it’s extremely challenging to get from 1 to 10 unless you have the steps in between mapped out. You know where you are and where you want to be, but don’t know how to get there.
Fortunately, we know and we’re going to share! That’s what 35 years each as certified fitness pros and Alexandra’s advanced degree in Counseling allow us to claim.To make lifestyle changes, choose Simple, Specific, Sustainable Steps that will lead to Success- YeSSSS to the S Click To Tweet
To make lifestyle changes, both big and small, make a 1-10 numbered list. One = where you are now; ten = what your new, improved, fit life will look like. Where do you want to be?, aka — your goal. List the steps it will take to get to this goal. Choose Simple, Specific, Sustainable Steps that will lead to Success. It’s all about the letter S!
A typical example of an overwhelming goal : I want to lead a healthier lifestyle. This statement is rather vague, making it hard to know if/ when you’re successful. A better starting point might be: I want to eat more berries and veggies, select food and companies I can trust to nourish me well, and move at least 150 minutes each week. From there you plug in small changes that you will actually do. Instead of thinking in grand scale (though we wouldn’t mind living in grand scale in Highclere Castle, where Downton Abbey is filmed), think of the least you can do. Multiple easy choices go further than grand, sweeping plans that come to nought. Unless you’re the broom in Beauty and the Beast.Asking yourself what is the LEAST you can do to improve your fitness level, and your chances for success increase. Click To Tweet
Buy plant-based foods, particularly from sources you research and trust. For example, learn what you can about Hampton Creek, a major manufacturer of sustainable foods that are made from plant ingredients. Serve your social sense and healthy self all in one go! And yes, Hampton Creek is sponsoring this post as they actually care about creating sustainable food, as do we. Disclosure Done, Bam!
You’ve probably figured out that thousands of options exist that would fit into your seven steps. Mix and match according to your goals. And of course, making a change is really way more than seven steps, though picking a manageable number will get you moving forward. The sample plan above has nothing earth-shattering or magical, which is good. It means you don’t need to wait for the earth to move or a magic wand to sparkle. You just need to make small decisions repeatedly until they become a habit and you realize three months have passed, and you are now eating more healthfully and have dropped the 20 pounds.
Won’t it be great to shift from “I need to change my life?” to “I know how to change my life for the better and I did it!”
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Photos taken by Alexandra Williams except the first one and as noted.
Alexandra Williams, MA and Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA
Brush your teeth before sitting down to watch a TV show. You’ll be less likely to eat those high-calorie, no nutritional benefit snacks.
Write out your grocery list, then stick to it. If marshmallow caramel chocolate double-dipped snack-a-doodles aren’t on your list, they don’t go in the basket. You can’t eat what isn’t in the house.
Whenever you have to wait for someone (a child at school, spouse at an appointment, friend at the movies), walk while you wait instead of sitting. If you have to stay in one place, then stand and move about the room (or fidget). If it’s a 10-minute appointment, go for a 10-minute walk. You’d be amazed at the number of steps you can add to your day just by NOT sitting.
Buy foods in bulk. If your rice is in a 5-pound bag, then you are lifting a 5-pound weight when you carry it. Do a few bicep curls before you use up all the rice! You don’t need fancy weights to work out. An overhead press with a 5-pound bag of flour works… and leaves you with a nice powdery dusting in your hair.
1. Get up during tv commercials and either walk or jog in place or grab a broom and sweep the floor. Yup, do a chore; it’s not a bore; you can reap more… when you move during ads.
2. Set a timer to remind you to stand up and walk at least 100 steps every 20-30 minutes. Takes just 2 minutes and prevents the physical and mental atrophy that comes with sitting too long at a stretch.
3. Meditate to relieve stress, increase cognitive skills, enhance compassion, reduce blood pressure, and send more blood and oxygen to your brain. Take advantage of free phone apps to build in a 5-8 minute meditation. Longer is great; but even a short meditation session will bring benefits. For suggestions on apps you can download, click to our post Meditation, Menopause, and Memory.
4. Repeat Yourself Yourself. When you go to sit down, sit, then stand, then sit. Then when you are ready to get up again (see my second tip), stand, then sit down, then stand and go! Congrats! You have just completed two squats. If you repeat this down-up-down up-down-up pattern a few times a day, you’ll have easily and quickly worked in a full squat set. Hello easy lower body strengthener!
5. Swap out your computer, office, or tv watching chair for a stability ball. At least you will get some core activation while sitting. Takes fewer than 10 minutes to switch the chair for the ball, but you’ll reap the rewards the entire time you are on the ball. Yes, get on the ball people!
Action: Reading and exercising make you smarter, which also leads to brain health, right? So subscribe to our twice-weekly posts. They’ll get you all smartened up. And first crack at our upcoming Ultimate Abs Workout Collection for Women Over 50 program.
Alexandra Williams, MA and Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA
This post is sponsored by Silk Soymilk because they also believe in healthy living, so they teamed up with us for these ten steps to sustainable change.Alexandra Williams, MA
It turns out that it’s easy enough to be at 1 (I’d like to lose 50 pounds) and want to be at 10 (I lost 50 pounds), yet it’s extremely challenging to get from 1 to 10 because you don’t have all the steps mapped out. You know where you are and where you want to be, but don’t know how to get there.
When I’ve wanted to make lifestyle changes, both big and small, I make a 1-10 numbered list. One is where I am now; ten is what it will look like. My list is the steps I’ll take to get to my goal. The trick is to choose simple, specific, sustainable steps that will lead to success. It’s all about the letter S!
A typical example: I want to lead a healthier lifestyle. Rather vague, which makes it hard to know if/ when you’re successful. A better starting point might be: I want to eat more vegetables, cut back on junk food, and lose 20 pounds in 3 months. From there you plug in small changes that you will actually do. Instead of thinking in grand scale (though I wouldn’t mind living in grand scale in Highclere Castle, where Downton Abbey is filmed), think of the least you can do. Multiple easy choices go further than grand, sweeping plans that come to nought. Unless you’re the broom in Beauty and the Beast.
1. Add 1,000 steps a day to my movement
2. Before I eat something that I think may not get me to my goal, I’ll go write it down. Sometimes seeing “four scoops of potato salad” written down helps me decide to just take 2 scoops, or none at all.
3. Throw away all food that will sabotage my goal somewhere where it’s not retrievable
4. Shop at a farmer’s market or co-op (any place where healthy food dominates the choices)
5. Add another 1,000 steps a day to my movement
6. With the 2,000 steps now added to my day, I’ll now run or walk very quickly for at least 500 of those. It can be in increments.
7. Serve dinner on smaller than standard plates, then put all the extra food into the fridge so it’s not just sitting out where I’ll be tempted to mindlessly eat seconds.
8. Do 5 push-ups, from knees or toes, and 10 squats
9. Get a cookbook or download healthy recipes that have a calorie count that fits my goals
10. Reward my achievements by writing down the extra energy I have, or getting a massage, or calling a supportive friend. Any reward that is positive (not junk food) and acknowledges the hard work.
You’ve probably figured out that thousands of options exist that would fit into the ten steps. And of course, making a change is really way more than 10 steps, though picking 10 specific steps will get you moving forward. The sample plan above has nothing earth-shattering or magical, which is good. It means you don’t need to wait for the earth to move or a magic wand. You just need to make small decisions repeatedly until they become a habit and you realize three months have passed, and you are now eating more healthfully and have dropped the 20 pounds.
While you’re off hunting for your old Bo Derek posters, you might also wish to learn about the 4 Stages to Healthier Habits. It has tips to help you with all the cognitive stuff that occurs when you’re trying to change.
Since Silk Soymilk was generous enough to sponsor this post, I’ll tell you a quick story about one of my steps to becoming a vegetarian. I knew I needed to get enough protein, so I bought both almond and soymilk. At first sip I wasn’t quite ready to drink them straight, but I knew I wanted them in my diet so I started adding soymilk to my fruit smoothies in place of juice. That worked. Bye bye overly sweetened juices; hello increased protein. And the picture here is my “I’m writing a post” beverage: half Silk, half vanilla decaf. Both of these healthy “hacks” work for my goals of getting in enough protein and enjoying my food. I’m still working on getting the cats to prefer it to their occasional bit of cream!
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Silk. The opinions and text are all mine.
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA
Kymberly: “Change is not simple; it is scary.” Anschutz Medical Center faculty member and licensed psychologist, Denise McGuire, PhD laid this on us at the recent FitSocial conference. Her presentation on making lifestyle changes covered the phases we pass through to meet our new goals.
According to Dr. McGuire, one of the mistakes we make is thinking we can change something once, then be done. For example, long term diets don’t work for 95% of people who try them. Yet it is a myth that people don’t or can’t really change. They can–YOU can!–if you know what stage of change you are in and adjust accordingly. Willpower alone is not sufficient. Willingness, not willpower is key. To change, you need to be willing to go outside your comfort zone. And that can be scary!
Alexandra: We aren’t fans of attributing lack of success to willpower, which has a sense of fighting against yourself and leads to self-recrimination. It has a negative feel to it. It’s far more empowering to either be willing or unwilling to do a behavior that leads to change. In other words, you didn’t LOSE a battle so much as you CHOSE something else instead. So Power Up! (lovers of video games will recognize this phrase as a way to instantly gain benefits and abilities).
Kymberly: Unfortunately, fewer than 20% of people in problem populations are ready for change. (What do you define as a “problem” population? The obese? Smokers? Sedentary individuals? Dr. McGuire implied all of the former, but did not really cover this so you can decide whether you consider yourself in a problem population). Are you in that 20% elite ready to improve your life?
People in this initial stage are resistant to change; they deny they have a problem believing they need to change those around them. Precontemplators can be demoralized and feel their situation is hopeless; they are defensive and rarely take responsibility for their behaviors.
This stage is a relatively safe place to be as there is no risk of failure. It’s a comfort zone though not a healthy one!
Progress! People in this phase accept that they, not others are the ones needing to make a change. However they are still not ready to take action.
If you are in this phase, you plan to take action within the month. You are aware of your problem, have increasing confidence in your ability to tackle it; have gathered the necessary information and want to take action, but are not quite ready. Almost though!
While you might consider this the easy phase, Dr. McGuire revealed that the Action stage requires the greatest amount of commitment, support, and energy. To succeed you must engage in self-talk to bolster your resolve; you need to be clear about your motivation; and you will do well to write down your reasons for change and read your notes daily.
Keep in mind that the Action stage does NOT mean you are continually moving forward; you will go back sometimes, then forward. But you WILL get to your goal. Think of it as walking against waves: slow going with resistance, yet you eventually DO get to smoother waters (aka it becomes a habit). Be prepared — people in the Action phase usually need 4-5 attempts before progressing to the fifth and final stage.
This phase lasts anywhere from 6 months to life, and is where new habits are formed. To stop yourself from moving back to an earlier stage consider these 5 tips from Dr. McGuire:
Alexandra: The Maintenance Phase is also an important stage to work on the words you use to describe yourself and your actions. For example, “relapse” has a more negative feel to it than “setback.” Which word sounds more successful to you? Another way to frame your behavior in this stage is to focus on the work you’ve done and the progress you’ve made.
While you’re at it, throw away the word “failure.” That’s a word to apply to hard drives and car brakes, not humans. People do not go in a straight line: Success ——> Failure; people go in labyrinths, circles and winding paths. As Gandalf wrote in his letter to the Hobbits, “Not all those who wander are lost.” Then his pen ran out of ink just as he was going to write, “And not all those who wander off the path are doomed.”
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5 Stages of Change Pie Chart http://www.readytoexercise.com/stages.html
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA
I just returned from the BlogHer 2013 Conference in Chicago, where I was part of a panel entitled “Healthy Habits That Will Change Your Life.” The other experts included Dr. Travis Stork, ER physician and host of “The Doctors,” professional organization guru and author, Andrew Mellen, weight loss inspiration and certified fitness trainer, Erika Nicole Kendall, and real food champion, Lisa Leake.
While this diverse panel had many great suggestions, their takeaway points (and mine, I humbly add in a totally not humble kind of way) are gems. Let us know whether you adopt some of these habits as they are designed to be Super Simple. Yes, we are leading off with words that start with S.
We’ll start with Dr. Travis, as he is the celeb of our bunch, and cute to boot! You get mnemonic advice from him. To start today with simple solutions, remember 4 S’s
The medical professional in him added that by developing these S word habits, you will get Sick less often and handle illness better. If you are paying attention you will note Dr. Travis gave you a bonus S in that first tip. So Dr. Travis Stork can’t count, but he sure can save lives and help you live better! Our panel existed courtesy of Dr. Travis and his affiliation with Simple Saline which sponsored him. More key S words!
Next up, you get my quick and memorable fitness tips. When you are looking to improve your movement habits, keep in mind the FIT principle:
Change only ONE of these elements at a time, about every two weeks. When we are gung ho to improve our exercise habits, we try to conquer prior poor habits too fast. As you make more movement part of your new, improved, more refreshing life go with what you can sustain over time. Going harder and longer and more often all at once is a statistical road to failure. Up the ante one letter at a time – more F or I or T. No “ands.” No “buts.”
For food advice, mom and “real food” go-to gal, Lisa Leake of 100 Days of Real Food distilled her wealth of experience into 3 key points:
Lisa’s basic premise is that if she can change her eating habits and those of her family, anyone can. She admits to starting with zero idea of nutrition and few cooking skills. She was a mom with a desire to raise healthy children and a commitment to start somewhere. Lisa gave herself and her family 100 days’ to see whether new habits would stick and found herself on a lifelong journey to better eating.
Many of us have experienced that an organized environment usually means a free, clear, and organized mind. When we clear physical clutter, we make room for our minds and bodies to operate. Author of the best selling book, Unstuff Your Life, Andrew Mellen suggests three strategies to shift to healthier habits:
“Simple to remember,” claims Andrew. No putting keys either on the dresser or in the purse or by the refrigerator. Once in the door, your keys go always in the same spot and only that spot. One home for each item, not a vacation back up villa.
Trying to decide whether important papers go in the office file except that one set of super important papers, which you are thinking of stashing somewhere special because they are super special papers? No, no, no my pretties. If it looks like the other stuff, acts like the other stuff, and smells like the other stuff, it all goes together in those files. Like with like.
Out shopping and hearing a tchotchke calling your name and credit card number? Then be ready to give up something first, because if you bring something new into the house, something else has to get the heave ho. Such an approach will help keep clutter and stuff down.
Our super savvy moderator, Erika Nicole Kendall stuck to her moderator role — to deftly herd the rest of us while underplaying her input. So she did not offer takeaway tips, but took audience questions to wrap up our time. Her blog, the Black Girls Guide to Weight Loss, about losing 170 pounds and becoming a fitness professional is worth following however.
To understand better the reasons Sleep, Stress, and Sugar are such culprits, read 3 Stealth Saboteurs of Your Weight Loss. That Dr. Travis is such a Fun and Fit twin wanna be with his advice.
If you are super motivated to make changes for the better with your daily habits, then read the transcript of our entire session. Some of the transcription has odd words here and there, but you will get the full gist and benefit of our collective wisdom if you follow the link. Attendees paid almost $400 to get such scoop live, so take advantage of the free education while you can!
Which habit are you improving to chase your health cares away and live better another day?
Sure we attend events; however we also speak at them. With energy and humor. So why not hire us for your next meeting or conference? Call us at (805) 403-4338 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
One GREAT habit you can start today is to subscribe to our YouTube channel to access short videos that will improve your fitness level and make you happy! Have you subscribed yet to our blog? Please follow us on google+Alexandra and +Kymberly, on Twitter: AlexandraFunFit and KymberlyFunFit and Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit.
Photo Credits: Messy room – puuikibeach BlogHer logo – BlogHer
Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA and Alexandra Williams, MA
Have you tried to set better habits before only to fail? Forget any past unsuccessful attempts. Accept that habit change requires more than willpower or goal setting. You need a tried and true strategy based on how we really behave.
Kymberly: I got to hear licensed psychologist, Neil Fiore, PhD, speak on behavior change at Rancho la Puerta Fitness Spa (“the Ranch”), when I was teaching there last week. Oh, those high level speakers the Ranch attracts for evening sessions — Just another bonus of going to Tecate, Mexico! I plan to make my presence there a habit! (Ya hear that, Ranch team?).
According to Dr. Fiore, a specialist in productivity, successful habit change is a four stage process.
Evaluate the pros and cons of the habit you want and the habit you are trying to leave behind. What are the risks? The benefits? What pain are you feeling and what are you willing to do to “kill” that pain?
Alexandra: For many people, the habit we are trying to leave behind is “eating food I know isn’t good for me.” What that really means is, “This food is not good for my weight loss goal, but it is good at giving me an immediate, temporary good emotional feeling.” So the habit to leave behind isn’t eating those foods; it’s eating them as a mood amelioration. One idea is to make up your mind to change that link.
Kymberly: Make a plan to get from the old to new habit. Map out the small steps required to shift from A to B. Consider the distractions you will face. Become aware of each action item needed to transition to better health.
Alexandra: Using the example above, commit to writing down your mood whenever you eat. Not just your mood on foods you feel aren’t helping your long-term goal, but also the ones that are. Probably the biggest challenge will be committing to writing everything down! Write that down! Jacktastic! (If you get this reference you are part of the Melissa McCarthy groupies club, and should definitely be committed!)
Kymberly: Decide where and when you will start the new habit. What is your schedule? Accept that you will face doubts and anxious moments. Then show up despite your fears.
Alexandra: Okay, sometimes it’s not so good to show up, especially if Ben & Jerry’s Americone Dream is calling you like one of Homer’s sirens. Your action plan would be to write down your food intake and moods and just observe. That’s it–observe what occurs. Interestingly, when people become aware of their habits, they change them without a lot of conscious effort (and the anguish that goes with it). Just as you picked up some bad habits without really intending to, so can you get rid of them. Obviously, it’s harder for some habits than others, especially if chemicals are involved (think smoking).
Kymberly: Truth?! You CAN handle the truth!: You will have setbacks. What is your recovery plan? Dr Fiore highlighted this as a key component of habit change success. Those who fall by the wayside give up after a setback, thinking one mistake or one bad moment means failure. Happy habit changers have accounted for the probability of setbacks and create a “get back on track” strategy.
Alexandra: In other words, plan to fail. Because planning will lead to success. No-one likes to be bossed around or told what one should or can’t do, even when it’s you talking to yourself. Create your plan based on what you can and will do! Picture your road to success as having rest stops, not as one big U-turn. Changing habits is mental so if you plan to incorporate the slow-downs, you’ll think, “Aha, I was expecting this, and now I will move forward again,” which is totally different than, “Aha, I’m a loser because I got off the straight and narrow and therefore forget it.”
There you habit!
Readers: What new or improved habit are you currently working on?
Start a good habit right now: Subscribe to our YouTube channel. And our blog. Follow us on Twitter: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit. Please also follow us on Instagram: KymberlyFunFit and AlexandraFunFit. We make this an easy habit to instill by giving you handy dandy links in the right sidebar.
The secret to a healthier, slimmer, more fit you lies in your daily choices and habits. Why do more of the same when it’s not working? Our Spring into Healthy Habits 30 Day Challenge will share exercise, motivation, nutrition/diet, and lifestyle tips to put you on the road to lasting change in just 30 days!
The Spring into Healthy Habits 30 Day Challenge is different and better than all those other programs you may have tried because it gives you information and guidance that has already been proven effective for the thousands and thousands of students we’ve worked with over the years. No gimmicks, no undue suffering, no taunting, no unsafe or short-term results; just new habits you will “sneak” into your lifestyle.
For only $9.95 (about 33 cents a day), you will receive daily emails, beginning Monday, May 16, with specific steps for you take. And it gets even better! You can also win one of four gift baskets from Hanna’s Herb Shop (each worth $100), one of five berry shipments from Cal Giant Berries, or a basket of berries with a $25 gift card to Academy.com (Academy Sports & Outdoors).
In addition, every participant will receive a 20% discount coupon to Hanna’s Herb Shop, plus a free downloadable CD of workout music from iSweat Music. In other words, you get back much more than you put in!
Register today at FunandFit and beginning on Monday, May 16, you’ll receive the information you need to start creating new, healthy habits!
Here’s what you do:
1. Register at FunandFit
2. On Monday, May 16, you will start to receive your 30 days’ of Healthy Habits material, sent to your inbox every morning.
3. Inside those emails will be the coupon to Hanna’s Herbs that you can redeem online.
4. Inside those emails will be the code to download your FREE iSweat Workout Music.
5. Go to the Fun & Fit fan page and post your comments, photos, successes, challenges, etc. The more you post, the more chances you have to win.
6. At the end of the Healthy Habits 30 Day Challenge, we will notify the winners of their prizes.
7. Everyone is a winner, both in prizes and in gaining a healthier life.
8. Did you get the part where you get back more than the $9.95 you put in?