To the Person Who Wants to Make Lasting Health Change in 2019,
Imagine my surprise as I’m driving on the interstate, en route to my New Year’s Eve plans on the final night of 2018…when I blow a tire! I don’t know if I hit a pot hole, a gopher, or just a piece of “let’s mess with Adam one more time in 2018.” All I know is my night’s plans were suddenly ripped out of my grasp.
So here I sit, home alone on New Year’s Eve, writing this article. Funny thing is I’ve been crafting this article in my head all day. I just didn’t know I’d be writing to you now. Be thankful in all things, right?
Here’s the thing: Most of us who want to step up and say, “This is the year I take care of my health,”…won’t. We will start on the road to health change. We will put on our workout gear and head to the gym. We will find ten healthy recipes, make a huge grocery list, and head toward the super healthy grocery store. And we will blow a tire. An obstacle of some sort will present itself, and we will find ourselves on the side of the road, parked next to our good intentions. Allow me to be your preemptive roadside assistance!
In my fifteen years of providing fitness and nutrition coaching, I’ve partnered with people to help them succeed like never before and achieve remarkable health change! If you want to make 2019 the year that you make lasting health change, here are three things you MUST DO to succeed like never before!
2019 Health Change Tip #1: Adopt a “No Carry-over” Approach
Imagine you were to go on vacation for two weeks. Of all the things you packed, you accidentally left your vitamins at home. As a result, for fourteens days you didn’t take your vitamins. Upon returning home, would you down fourteen days worth of vitamins in a single sitting, just to make up for the lost days? Of course you wouldn’t!!!
And you shouldn’t. When most people miss a day of vitamins, they don’t take double the next day. Not to mention taking fourteen days worth!
When I say “adopt a no carry-over approach”, what I mean is this: Don’t set goals that allow you to carry over today’s misses into tomorrow. If you want to set a running goal, don’t set a goal to run five miles a week. Set a goal to run one mile for five days of each week. One mile a day. No carry-over. Don’t miss four days of running and then run five miles in one day. Run one mile today. Commit to it. Make it happen. Then run one mile tomorrow. If you miss a day, you still run one mile tomorrow.
Here’s why a “No Carry-over" approach is important. We will have 365 days in 2019. When we set a goal for the year, and we don’t take action on that goal on a given day…no big deal. We still have 364 days to take action. Miss the first 26 days of the year? No big deal. We still have 339 days to hit that goal. Setting long-range goals can fool us into thinking that TODAY isn’t important. Today is all we have! It’s important.
When you set a goal for TODAY, it fosters urgency and focus. If you missed it, you missed. Often times we buy the lie that we can bail ourselves out tomorrow for inaction today. Winning in 2019 involves focusing on today’s action step. If you miss your step today, hit reset and try again tomorrow. Adopt a “no carry-over” approach, and you will find your action and outcomes are within reach sooner than you ever imagined!
2019 Health Change Tip #2: Create Friction For Yourself
Have you ever promised something to your child, niece, or nephew? “I’m taking you to the zoo, tomorrow!” They get excited. You get excited because they got excited. And then tomorrow comes and something happens that ruins plans for the zoo. What happens? You break the bad news that you can’t take them to the zoo. And they tear up and say, “But you PROMISED!” You feel horrible. You feel…friction.
Let’s say we write out a nutrition plan for the week. Breakfast is all planned out for the week. Same with lunch, dinner, and snacks. And then a co-worker orders pizza to be delivered to the office. You have your planned-out lunch sitting in the office fridge. And your brain goes, “You know, pizza does sound pretty good…”
Then the inner child in your brain goes, “But you PROMISED!” Friction. When we make a food plan or exercise plan, we promise our brain a future outcome. When we considering bailing on that outcome, our brain freaks out because…we promised. Creating weekly food and fitness plans are so important because they create the opportunity for future friction. Whenever we consider sliding off plan, our brain makes us hurt for considering the idea of breaking the promise we made to ourselves. That doesn’t mean we won’t break the promise and go off plan, but IT DOES MEAN we will feel more friction (and disappointment) for breaking our promise.
Planning food and fitness each week creates a promise to ourselves. Failing to make a plan (a lack of an internal promise) makes it more likely to act on someone else’s plan for us. Always have a plan…and you will always have friction when someone else attempts to sabotage your plan. Having a plan helps keep us on track, in part because of the friction applied when we consider going off-plan.
2019 Health Change Tip #3: Have a “Plan B” and Expect to Pivot
I see it all the time. “I’m going to workout an hour per day, five days a week.” Then the boss schedules an end-of-day meeting. One workout missed. Then traffic is horrible. Two workouts missed. Then your kid forgot about the extra practice the coach added, and they need a ride. Three workouts missed.
I’ve seen a lot of client planners and schedules in my day. I’ve never seen “Horrible traffic jam because of an accident” on someone’s schedule. I’ve never seen, “My kid forgot their uniform at home” planned out on the calendar. Unexpected thing happen. We need to be able to roll with the punches and make lemonade out of lemons when our day takes a turn for the unexpected.
The best way to respond to the unexpected is to prepare for the unexpected. Traffic will add two hours to your commute at some point. Your boss will re-arrange your day…and your child will as well. Plan on it. Expect it.
How will you respond when your day blows up? What’s your Plan B? You need to have one. You need to have a 15-minute workout that you can do at home when your day gets destroyed and the gym plan doesn’t happen. You need a snack in your car for when your day changes and your nutrition plan gets tossed by the wayside. Pivots help you to stay on track when life tries to throw you off track.
And the key to pivots: they involve lowering the bar. The meal ”you planned for” had a protein source, a good fat source, and veggie. Your pivot snack is a Lara Bar. Who cares! Most pivots allow you to stay on track because you lowered the bar! Bend but don’t break. That’s what a pivot allows you to do. Pivots may involve slowing things down, but at least you stay on track!
Life happens. Murphy’s law will apply, and your day will take a turn for the worse from time to time. Count on it! Because life happens, you need to be able to pivot. You need to have Plan B’s in place for your exercise and your nutrition. Bend, but don’t break!
If you want to make lasting health change in 2019, you need to be able to adopt a “no carry-over” approach, create friction for yourself, and expect to pivot (have a “Plan B”). Want help with any of those things? I can help! It’s my job.
If taking control of your health in 2019 may require a partner or a plan, I’d love to have a conversation with you about how to build the plan to get you to the place you’ve always wanted to be with your health. For my little company, 2018 was the most successful year in our 15-year history. Here’s to partnering with you in 2019 so that you can achieve unparalleled health success!