Have you ever decided to make a change towards a healthier lifestyle, then found yourself returning to your old ways within a week or a month? This often happens because the goal we set for ourselves is too ambitions and we’re trying to change too much, too fast. There’s a gentler way to better health – taking one little step at a time and celebrating your wins along the way.
While the cold-turkey method can work for some people, it leaves most of us disappointed and feeling bad about ourselves. Lifestyle food and wellness coach Magdalena Mandryk shows us how to coach ourselves to better health from a place of gentleness and self-love instead. So grab something to write with and follow along!
What would you like to change in your lifestyle?
Magdalena believes that a happier and healthier life starts in these three areas: good nutrition, regular physical activity and positive mindset. It’s important to create good habits in all three, but without being too strict on yourself. It’s okay to enjoy a bit of chocolate or a glass of wine from time to time!
What area do you feel needs most attention right now? Pick one positive change to focus on: it could be drinking more water, exercising regularly, getting enough sleep. It’s always better to define your goal in positive terms and move towards something you want rather than away from something you don’t want. For example, losing weight has an element of loss attached to it and what do you do when you lose something? That’s right, you want to find it again! Instead, focus on eating healthy food that nourishes your body and all of a sudden your goal seems a lot more attractive.
Why is this important to you?
Your motivation is everything. If you’re doing something just because your friend or an expert told you it was a good idea, the chances are you won’t stick with it. Imagine yourself achieving the result you want. How is your life going to be different? How are you going to feel? Is that what you want for yourself? If not, now is the time to go back to the first step and make adjustments to your goal.
What are your strengths?
List 3-5 of your innate strengths (your strengths are activities and qualities that come naturally to you and bring you joy). They don’t have to be related to the goal you’re setting for yourself, but when you’re stuck for inspiration you can always get creative and draw on your strengths to overcome obstacles.
What could get in your way?
Make a list of the challenges that can come up along the way: work emergency, losing motivation, kids getting sick, all the things that can happen to distract you from your goal. This list can get long, but don’t let that discourage you. It’s better to be prepared than to fall apart and forget all about your goal at the first sign of something not going to plan.
What are some possible strategies?
Here’s where you brainstorm strategies to achieve your goal and overcome your obstacles. It always helps to have a list of strategies ahead of time – in the heat of the moment you may not be able to find a solution and you might not even remember that you need one.
Are you having a hard time coming up with strategies for some of the things that could get in your way? Now is the time to call on your strengths. How can you engage your strengths to overcome your obstacles?
For example, you may be trying to get enough sleep, but you’re struggling to detach yourself from your computer at night because one of your strengths – curiosity, is always driving you to look for more answers online. You can consciously send your curiosity in a different direction and get curious about interpreting dreams. Then you’ll need to dream first before you have something you could interpret.
Choose a task for next week
Finally, it’s time to make your goal a reality. Choose a small, doable task for next week. It has to be achievable, measurable and attractive, something you want to do. For example, you could choose to go to bed 15 minutes earlier, exercise every day for 10 minutes or drink one glass of water. While it doesn’t feel like much, it’s easy to do and you’re far more likely to succeed than if you decide to stick to a bed time of 9 pm and exercise for 45 minutes a day.
Magdalena recommends that you focus on each task for at least a week before you move on to the next step. Once the week is up, review how you went, do something to celebrate your success and set a new task for the following week. When you succeed week after week, you start feeling great about yourself and you build momentum, so it’s much easier to keep going. One little step at a time and you’ll see that better health is well within your reach.
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