If you were like me and started your New Year's resolutions on Jan 2nd, then you are three weeks into your 2013 efforts. How do you feel it's going for you so far? For me at least, its been filled with a lot of starts and stops. Um, okay- more stops than starts. So when I stumbled across this article over at Wellness Mama the other day called “The Real Reason You Can't Ditch Diet Coke, Quit Junk Food, or Get to Bed on Time I knew that I was meant to read it.
In the piece Anne explains…
“…to be successful at making changes, you have to do more than decide to give up the bad habits: you have to plan what you’re going to do instead.”
You can't just talk about what you are going to STOP doing (drinking Diet Coke, eating junk food, etc), instead you need to focus on what you are going to START doing (drink Sodastream fizzy water, eat fruit, and so on). For me this was a powerful reminder that we need to set ourselves up for success. To set a goal to lose 10 pounds, to exercise 5 times a week, and to get caught up on my scrapbooks are all very well-intentioned goals, but unless I create the path to success they are going to remain on my New Year resolutions list for years to come!
So here's a few things that I am trying to do to “set myself up for success”:
1. Get Up A Little Earlier
I am now setting my alarm for 5am (rather than 5:30am), and I am trying not tot hit the snooze button, but force myself to actually wake up the first time I hear the alarm. When I do this, I gain the gift of 80 minutes to myself. Now I had originally intended to use this early morning time to exercise, but I find that I am just not motivated to get out of my warm bed and exercise with any intensity. I was going at it too half-heartedly. But if I can spend this time tackling a few items on my to-do list before the day gets started- send some work-related emails, sketch out a blog post, clean out my in-box- I feel as if I face the day much more optimistically. And can more easily create some time in the middle of my day to tackle a more worthwhile workout.
The key to making this early morning hour be productive time for me is to make a quick list the night before of how I'll use that time. I write it on a little post it note, stick it to my laptop, and put my laptop on my nightstand. When the alarm goes off, I can grab my laptop, stay in my warm bed, and plow through my list.
And if I don't have a plan, I can burn that hour on Pinerest in no time flat. NOT why I got up at 5am!
2. Make a 2013 Goal List And Post It Somewhere
For me I am finding it to be motivational to see what I said I wanted to accomplish in 2013, and also see that I've already crossed a few things off of the list. It reminds me that even though I feel as if “I am not getting anywhere on everything I want to do”, it's proof that I actually am! And I am also writing down the names of the books that I am reading this year so that I have a reminder that I do make time for this activity that I love (when I don't spend any time reading for a few days, I begin to feel as if I “never make the time to read”).
3. Break Exercise and Weight Loss Goals into Achievable Weekly Bites
This was a simple tip that I picked up somewhere recently…. break down your weight loss goal by week. Yes, I want to lose 10 pounds, but I know that even when on my “best eating right and exercising behavior”, I only have the ability to lower the reading on the scale by a 1/2 pound a week. So if you map that out… that's 20 weeks- 5 months– before I hit my goal. That's a long time to work towards something…. and to be frustrated by a slowly moving scale! So I created a little Excel spreadsheet that shows a declining weight over those 20 weeks, and posted it behind a cabinet door in my bathroom so only I can see it, to remind myself of what a slow 10 pound weight loss looks like. I am hoping that this will allow me to see the progress I am making each week as I work towards my goal.
4. Pre Plan What I Am Going to Eat
I menu plan dinners for my family and it helps me to make sure that I make a home-cooked and healthy meal for them every night. But I need to take this a step further and each morning while making breakfasts for the kids, I need to pre-plan what I am going to eat for the day. Especially snacks. I am going to prep it and have it waiting for me on the kitchen counter or in the fridge. I think if I know what I can eat next, I will stick to my plan and not veer off and explore what's in the snack drawer.
5. Shake Off My Lapses, and Keep On Going
I am going to stumble. Often. But instead of beating myself up about it, I need to learn to shake it off and keep going. I can't tell myself that I'll try again tomorrow, or start up again next Monday…. I need to forgive myself right there at the moment of the lapse, shake it off, and start again right then. So when I do cave in and eat that brownie, that doesn't mean I should allow myself to eat 3 more brownies since I've already screwed up. It means I should just move right back to my daily eating plan. And not beat myself up!
So how are you doing with your resolutions so far? Do you have any tips to share on how you are setting yourself up for success?