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It’s the first week of the New Year, 2018, and as gym memberships and diet books fly off the shelves many people are committing to losing weight or living a healthier lifestyle. Most of those people will fail.
It’s not their fault. They are obviously well intentioned, they should be encouraged, and I personally hope they succeed, but the hard-to-avoid hype behind most diets forces people to focus on the wrong things—namely, what extreme change should I make to the way I eat and how many minutes can I spend on the treadmill and at the gym?
Instead of adopting a radical diet, what if people focused on the good aspects of how they already eat—find the few healthy things I eat now—and enjoy—and eat more of those types of foods.
If you start by identifying the foods you love, you could look for a diet that incorporates those foods. The fact is that most diets work, at least in the short-term, if you stick to them. So, find one you can stick to—one you enjoy. A diet shouldn’t be about torture and deprivation and it’s not a short term thing. Don’t look at it as “going on a diet”, which implies that it is temporary and you will eventually “go off the diet”. Find a way to eat that is sustainable for the long term. Then pay attention to the way you feel when you eat this way and remind yourself how much better you feel. Fall in love with your diet. Change your diet. Don’t go on one.
As for the grueling hours on the treadmill, or painful trips to the gym, instead ask what type of physical activity do I actually enjoy? Aren’t you much more likely to stick to a daily 30 minute hike in the woods if that’s what you love to do? If you hate going to the gym, don’t go. If you loved playing basketball in highschool, find a group that plays a couple times a week and join them.
If we focus on finding and doing things we love, we will instinctively prioritize them. That’s how we find time for them even when we think we are busy. Most people have more time in their schedule than they think taking a closer look. How many hours have you spent staring at your phone this week? If you have an iPhone or iPad you can see exactly how much time was spent on each app by looking in Settings>Battery. Click the clock icon and it will show you how much time you spent with each app open on your screen. I was shocked by my own results.
The point is to be aware of where you spend your time so you can choose how to use it instead of letting your phone, TV, or something else lure you in to wasting it mindlessly.
New Year’s Resolutions are good. It’s a great reminder each year to look at our lives and ourselves and make sure we are headed in the right direction. But we have to give ourselves plans that are likely to result in success, not failure.
Find the healthy foods that you love to eat. Eat more of those.
Find the physical activity that you love to do. Do it more often.
Make time by eliminating wasted time and consciously choosing where you spend your minutes and hours and days. Then repeat.
Happy New Year.