We’ve all gone too bed one night and told ourselves “Tomorrow, I’m going to start eating healthy and exercising every day”. Many of us have also done it: thrown out all our junk food, bought a gym membership, and taken other big steps. The problem is that most of us have reverted to our old lifestyles within a week. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither is a healthy body. The key to making permanent lifestyle changes is to make small, achievable goals and stick to them.
When most people decide to lose weight, they set goals like “I will lose two pounds per week”. But various factors that have nothing to do with your lifestyle changes may affect your weight. The best goals are ones that are under your control. Set goals related to how much you exercise or what you eat. If you make these goals small and reasonable, you’ll be more likely to accomplish them.
One of my best friends went on the raw food diet. He ate one cooked meal a day, and most of the food he ate was remarkably similar to what I feed my pet rabbit. The diet worked; he lost weight, but two months later he gained it all back when he started on the Coke and fast food diet. The moral of this story is: while big changes are good for you, you can’t stick with them for the long term. Try setting goals like “I will replace one fatty snack a day with a piece of fruit instead” or “I will walk for 10 minutes every day”. Once you reach your goal, set a new one. This makes any diet easier to stick to.
While starting too fast with a diet can make it hard to stick to, starting too fast with an exercise program can be dangerous. Doing too much too soon can not only wear you out, it can cause permanent damage to your body. Remember to pick your exercise program and start small. If you decide to run, run until you’re too tired. Then walk the rest of the time. You may only run 5 minutes the first day, but if you keep it up you’ll be running the entire way in no time.
No matter what you do to lose weight, try to incorporate small, reasonable changes. This will greatly increase your chances of success.