If there was one thing I could urge people to do when they are trying to make meaningful changes in their lives, it would be to be consistent. Yes, I know, this is very unsexy. It’s not going to grab any headlines and certainly won’t sell any magazines. However, I firmly believe it is the key to unlocking the future of your dreams. We are the sum of that which we do on daily basis. Whether you are trying to lose weight, get fitter, fix a relationship, progress at work or whatever the case may be, it is the small things done often which will get you there.
Let’s take a look at weight loss. How many times have you seen magazines advertising the next hot diet, guaranteed to have you lose 20lbs in two weeks? How many of them guarantee that you will still have that weight off in a years time? None! The reason for this it that such dramatic weight loss results can only come about from dramatic interventions. Think Biggest Loser! Chronic low calorie diets, supremely intense exercise regimes, or a combination of both are used to bring about stunning results, seemingly overnight. The problem with this is that it is completely unsustainable. Once the crash diet has ended, the dieter more often than not, reverts to exactly the same type of eating which got them into trouble in the first place. Better by far to apply less dramatic interventions and practice them consistently.
I wish I could tell you that you will always want to stick to your diet. I wish I could tell you that training will always feel easy and enjoyable. But I can’t. There will be times when it feels challenging and boring. Times when you can’t be bothered. There will be times when a tub of Ben and Jerry’s for dinner seems perfectly reasonable. It’s at these times when having good habits in place and remaining consistent will get you through it.
If you want to be consistent with getting to the gym for instance, practice the habits which will make it easier. Lay out your gym clothes or pack your bag the night before. Go straight from work to avoid the allure of sitting on the couch. Tell people you are going. Hold yourself accountable.
In the United States the Weight Loss Registry have been conducting a study of people who have lost in excess of 30lbs and who have maintained that weight loss for more than a year. The point of it was to try to determine what these people have in common which allowed them to be successful, when so many others fail. One thing they identified as being a common habit among participants is that they weigh themselves everyday. Now that’s not to say there is anything magical happening here. Standing on the scale alone is not enough to ensure you don’t regain your weight, unfortunately. But something about this small daily ritual helped them to stay on track.
I personally weigh myself each morning. I normally bounce around between a kilo or so. If I stand on the scale and weigh a bit heavier, I can usually identify why that was (damn Ben and Jerry’s) and 9 times out of 10 I am back to normal by the next day. If however, I get a few days in a row that are higher than I would like, I know it’s time to get it together. Without tracking like this, I would have no idea where I was. I don’t let the number upset me, or affect my day, I just note it and move on.
Making lifestyle change can seem like a huge and daunting task. So daunting, in fact, that many people perpetually procrastinate. Continually putting it off until a tomorrow that never comes. The best way to get around this is to start off small. Pick one or two small changes and implement them TODAY! Make sure you choose things which you will be able to do consistently. Personally, I would always go for the easy wins.
If you struggle to think of some changes to make, ask yourself these questions;
- Can I drink more water each day?
- Can I switch off all electronics and have half an hour of no screen time before bed each evening?
- Can I take a 15 minute walk after lunch and/or dinner on a daily basis?
- Can I swap one of my daily coffees for a herbal tea?
- Can I include one additional portion of fruit or veg each day?
- Can I commit to bringing my lunch to work every day?
- Can I practice a ten minute meditation or mindfulness exercise each day?
- Can I add protein to my breakfast each morning?
If the answer to any of these questions was yes, then this is your starting point. It’s as simple as that. Just think, if you were to implement one change each month, how different your lifestyle could be by this time next year. This does not promise overnight success, but it does promise to bring about change in a sustainable way. Remember, the key is to be perfectly consistent, not consistently perfect xxx