Train your brain to stick to any diet, Part 3: The Plan
We train for sports, we train before we take an exam and we train to give a killer presentation. But when it comes to making healthy changes, we might realise we need to train for that too.
Train your brain to learn new healthier habits and make positive health changes in your life.
- 1: Habits: what is a habit, how to change them to reach your goals
- 2: Willpower: What is it and how it affects your habits
- 3: Putting it all together: Action time!
It’s crunch time. Now you know what habit you want to change, you have set a goal, and you understand how to keep on track with your willpower. This post will show you how to keep on track for your success.
Use the 5 techniques below when putting your plan into action to build a strong foundation for your goal to succeed.
So you have a goal, great! No matter if its to lose 10kg or run a marathon – goals are necessary to practice self-improvement and lead to lifestyle change. But if you don’t have small, achievable, concrete steps to take toward your goal, there is no clear path ahead.
So set one or two weekly goals that point toward you achieving that big end goal. For example.
Make the mini-goal positive and simple. This makes it easier to achieve them, providing you a sense of accomplishment that will spur you toward your big goal.
2. Prepare for when it goes to shit
So you’re going well – you have deleted the Menulog app, swapped slippers for training shoes and found your mum’s old cookbooks for healthy meal ideas. But then, the shit hits the fan. Work ramps up, you have been evicted, or your in-laws are coming to stay. What now?
Not only can these situations cause stress, but they can take up the time that you have been dedicating to work on your goal. Stressful situations can be hugely detrimental to your progress. Not only does it plays havoc with your hormones, but in times of stress, we often rely on crutches to get us through. This might mean smoking to help you relax, a drink after work, ordering fatty (but yummy) takeaway or any habit that you have been trying so hard to change. It’s then very easy to slide back right where you started if you continue to use your crutches again and again and then feel as though you have failed.
Planning in advance for these occasions will help you power through and still achieve your goal. Start by identifying any upcoming time in your life that may be more stressful or busy.
– Are you moving house?
– Planning to change job?
– Have busy periods at work during a certain month?
Record or write down these times in your journal or calendar.
Now develop a plan for these periods that will help reduce your stress levels and keep you on track. I had a hugely busy period at work coming up and knew if I didn’t plan accordingly I would crash and burn. So I pre-ordered 4 weeks worth of Hello Fresh (a meal delivery company that meant I didn’t have to shop). I organised a cleaner to come to the house each fortnight and do chores I knew I didn’t have time for. Lastly, I asked my partner if he could take on some errands and tasks for me that I knew would take up my time and energy. This plan took a few hours, but it paid dividends as I still ate well, had time for exercise and had less on my mind to distract me.
There are plenty of ways to make sure you can stay on track without spending money. Could you pre-cook and freeze healthy meals? Ask a friend to pick up the kids from school for a week? See if any gyms nearby have a free weeks membership if money is tight?
By looking ahead and preempting when life will be busy you can prepare, to help ease you through.
3. Treat yo’self!
Look, it’s reallllly hard to make changes sometimes. I quit drinking for a few months and the first week was more difficult than I imagined. So I booked in for a massage on the Friday night when I would normally be out with friends. This was my reward for completing one week and I felt so amazing afterward that it spurred on my motivation to maintain my goal.
Give yourself a small reward each week when you have smashed your mini-goal or seen some progress, perhaps buy a bunch of flowers, a new gym top or haircut. Set a bigger reward for yourself when you have made significant progress or completely changed the habit you wanted to.
Who is going to help support you during this journey? What do you need in the way of support? Enlist the help of friends, family, colleagues, programs or online communities to increase your chances of success. You might ask a friend to go to a gym class with you or a colleague to stop offering you biscuits at work.
5. Visualise success
Visualisation is used by athletes to improve sporting performance by boosting their confidence, self-awareness and giving them a competitive edge. How does it work?
It’s believed that by mentally rehearsing the activity you want (crossing the finish line at a fun run, seeing yourself in that dress you want to fit into) your brain uses the same pathways as if you were actually doing it. The same parts of your brain are activated during the mental rehearsal and actual practice. This is only effective if used regularly.
So each morning, close your eyes and spend 5 minutes visualising yourself achieving your goal. Imagine how you will feel, how you will look, what you can see, smell and touch. Bring as much detail to your visualisation as you can. If you find this difficult look for a meditation app to listen to that’s specifically tailored to your goal.
Now go and change your habits and change your world!
P.s. Keep an eye out for a workbook I am making that can be used to accompany the last three posts.