How To Make Lifestyle Changes That Stick – Part 2

This is part two of my series on how to make successful lifestyle changes. The first post focused on ditching all or nothing thinking, the second one is about letting go of rigid plans.

Tip #2: Letting go of rigid plans and goals

More often than not, when we start pursuing som lifestyle change we latch on to some  cookie-cutter plan that appears to be the shortest and easiest path to our goal. The examples of that kind of plans are all around us: crash diets that promise we can lose ten pounds in seven days, or reality shows like the Biggest Loser.

The faster we reach the goal and the more drastic the change, the better it is supposed to be!

But what if the plan we decide to follow doesn’t suit us or doesn’t bring the results we hoped for?

I believe we might have a better way of succeeding in making lifestyle changes if we treated our goals and plans like lose rules of thumb, not immutable laws. Experimenting with different approaches and behaviors might actually lead to better and more lasting results.

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The way I managed to get rid of my chronic tension headaches is a good example of a flexible process. Two years ago I finally got so fed up with my chronic pains that I swore I would figure out a way to get rid of them. In the beginning I didn’t know how I would reach my goal nor how long it would take. I just knew I wanted to get rid of my chronic tension headaches.

I had some vague notions about how I would accomplish my goal. I tried a lot of things I had already tried like getting even more massage therapy, stretching, yoga, physical therapy and osteopathy (the so called “more of the same” approach you’re probably familiar with). One of the things I happened to experiment with was the Feldenkrais Method. And ot was Feldenkrais Method that eventually helped me get rid of my pains.

The point I’m trying to make is that the willingness to experiment with different things and behaviors was actually what lead me to discovering “the solution”.

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I’m actually in a similar situation right now, wondering whether to stick to my original plan or to concentrate on something else. In the beginning of October I thought I would focus on doing a lot of DEFL workouts and try to improve my muscular strength (especially in my upper body). But after I purchased a pedometer and read James Levine’s book “Move a little, lose a lot”, I discovered I like the NEAT approach so much I want to stick to it for the time being.

I do feel a bit guilty for not sticking to my own plan, but I believe I have stumbled upon something that I need right now. And I can always work on my muscular strength later.

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I like the concept of healthstyle, coined by health blogger Darya Pino.

One of the beautiful things about approaching health from a lifestyle perspective is that there are countless ways to get where you want to go.

I think we should focus more on creating our own healthstyle by experimenting with different things and approaches and sticking to things that work for us.

Best,

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How to Make Healthy Lifestyle Changes That Stick – Part 1

A couple of days ago I read a good article on life detox that started me thinking about the best ways to make healthy lifestyle changes, based on my own experiences.

Most of us know from experience that making lifestyle changes can be devilishly difficult. Sometimes years go by and we just don’t seem to be able to make the changes we desperately want like quit smoking, lose weight and get back in shape.

Still, despite challenges, we do occasionally succeed in making lifestyle changes. I started thinking about the most successful changes I have made during my life and what it was that made the change possible.

I decided to write a series on my tips. 🙂

My Top Tips on How to Change a Lifestyle for the Better

Tip #1: Ditch all or nothing thinking

Many lifestyle changes come to an end before they have really started because everything doesn’t go according to some rigid, preconceived plan. You decide to follow some diet or exercise regime and it’s going fine until one day you eat that pepperoni pizza with extra cheese!

I think the problem is not that you ate that pizza but rather your own thinking. If you got over the fact that you had that pizza and carried on like nothing happened, the pizza incident would have been just a small blip on your radar.

I learned this first hand when I lost 26 pounds following Weight Watchers program seven years ago (I must have unlearned that on some point, though!). After 2 weeks of following the program I caved in and indulged in some sweets. If I had, at that moment, decided I had failed in my diet I certainly wouldn’t have eventually lost those 26 pounds. Instead I somehow managed to shrug off that incident and go on as if nothing had happened (I didn’t punish myself for eating that candy either).

I actually got into a habit of eating sweets once a week. The only consequence that weekly habit of mine was that I may have not lost weight as fast as possible.

So what?

(It’s another issue altogether that most diets are so restrictive that they practically set you up for a failure. It’s not merely a question of lack of self-discipline; you have probably just made a bad diet choice.)

Life is messy. You might not achieve your goals in exactly the way or in the exact timeframe you originally planned, but that doesn’t mean you can’t reach your goals.

Do you have similar experiences? Leave your comments below, please.

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