So, you’ve made a commitment to eating healthy – now what? A lot of people start nutrition, fitness and weight loss challenges in the new year, and it’s fantastic!
But, despite all the initial enthusiasm and motivation, many people make one fundamental mistake. Having coached hundreds of people through our own challenges, I know exactly where they can possibly go wrong and why they might not succeed.
Want to know what it is? People are simply not mentally ready to make the change.
Think about the past challenges or commitments you’ve taken on. You might recall jumping in head first and trying to go cold-turkey, without giving yourself the time and the space to prepare mentally for all the changes and obstacles that come along the way.
While cold-turkey approach might work for some, the fact is is that what gets us to achieving our goals and seeing a commitment through is our minds.
Doing mental prep work is key in developing a positive mindset that you can rely on throughout any nutrition program, whether it’s three weeks or three months long.
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This is the reason why de dedicate the first week of our 30-day program to the mental and physical set-up, which allows folks to get prepared for what’s ahead.
Overall, we think this sets up individuals for success. If you’re in the middle of a designated challenge or a program, or you’re joining us for our HBF program, here is some of our best advice.
1. Set new goals (you haven’t made before)
Chances are, this is not your first rodeo. You’ve likely come to attack the same goals time and time again. Who hasn’t? While some challenges and programs have potential to hold the “magic key” for you, it’s good to take some ownership.
If you never change what you hope to get out of it, you’re increasing your chance of disappointment. Instead of deciding, “I want to lose weight,” decide, “I want to learn enough about nutrition to feed my kids well.” Instead of, “I want to drop x dress sizes,” think along the lines of, “I want to reduce pain and learn to enjoy physical activity.”
Instead of, “I want to run 3 times per week so I can lose weight around my stomach,” think, “I want to run 3 times per week so I can do that 10km fun race.”
By expanding your focus and setting more concrete goals that are based on performance or improvement in your lifestyle is more helpful and effective.
2. Don’t skip steps
If you’re taking on a guided healthy eating program or challenge, don’t underestimate the importance of each individual aspect of the program.
Chances are, those steps are all there for a reason. It’s easy to deem something trivial and skip the “little” steps right off the bat, thus getting into a bad habit of cutting corners throughout.
You want to put in 100% or as close to it as possible from the very beginning, to set a strong tone for the duration of your journey and beyond. Go into it wholeheartedly.
3. Establish your ‘WHY’
This is something we ask of our 30-day participants every time, and we revisit it over and over throughout the program. Your motivation to do something is inevitably going to wane at some point during the challenge period.
That’s why we ask you to write this down. Your WHY will be what comes to you when you’re feeling pumped up and ready to go, and you will all but forget it on a day when life’s feeling hectic, you’re stressed and you want to cave.
Make your WHY something powerful, consistent and continually relevant to your life. When you come back to it, it should be something strong enough to keep you moving forward, even if motivation is low.
It’s also ok to change your WHY as you go along, as long as it’s moving you in the right direction.
4. Prepare your heart for change
I know, I know – it sounds a little out there to bring matters of the heart into diet and lifestyle, but it works. If you want to change your mindset, you have got to connect the heart and the brain.
We can think of things in terms of logistics all we want, but that positive thinking has a lot to do with what you’re feeling. You have to allow yourself to make progress before you actually can.
Opening your heart up will allow you to be vulnerable and share your experience, remove limitations and believe in yourself. This might include a bit of positive affirmation and active self-love. Let your heart be a part of your journey, and you won’t regret it.
5. Forget about “perfection”
This elusive goal is one we strive for without even trying sometimes. Ask yourself: “Am I a perfectionist?” If you have a long history of approaching things with this impossible goal in mind, I ask you to set it aside for now as you embark on a new journey.
Health and wellness challenges have a “make or break” mentality surrounding them for the most part. You can aim for 100%, but even if you fall short at 90% or 75%, you have not failed.
It’s a cliche to say, but this is a marathon and not a sprint. Progress is not linear, and it probably never will be. Accept the struggles, the setbacks and the stress. You’re going to make it past those things.
6. Breathe, walk and talk confidence
There’s something about standing up straight, taking a deep breath and repeating to yourself (or whoever else is around to hear it): “I can do this.” Know why? Because heck yeah, you can!
Many people begin a challenge with reluctance, and that is a surefire way to make sure self-made limits stand in the way of doing your best. On the other hand, confidence can be fleeting for some, and hard to keep up. The trick?
Doing this every single day. P.S. it is totally normal to talk to yourself… so go look in the mirror and get to showering yourself with compliments!
7. Don’t resolve to do this on your own
You can – don’t get us wrong! You are powerful, strong, confident and totally capable of doing anything that you set your mind to independently. The good thing about challenges is that community is a focus.
Whether you’ve got coaching, community, or your family to do the challenge with you, or accountability partners checking in with you daily (or a mixture of all these things!), it is up to you to utilize your people.
Reach out when you need help, share your victories when you have ’em and join creative forces when you need to spark up motivation. Too many people hold on to their pride, especially when it comes to a “challenge” of sorts.
8. Don’t get overwhelmed too soon
Ideally, don’t get overwhelmed at all! Worrying is essentially a big ol’ waste of time, and it’s not good for your health.
I often get messages from people before we begin the program who are excited to begin, but a bit taken aback by the potential workload; food prep, online priorities and the general pressure to do well can feel like a lot!
While this is normal, it’s better to go in confidently and without a load of anxiety weighing you down. Muster up that strength and realize that while you are taking on a big responsibility and setting out to learn new things, you are going to do fine – better than fine!
Do you feel a bit better now? Taking these steps is a big deal, so congratulations! Whether you are currently doing a nutrition challenge or gearing up to take one one, remember this: YOU CAN DO IT.
Share this with your accountability friends, teammates or fellow foodie friends who could use a confidence boost!
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