Spring has sprung in the US! Spring is a time of renewal and rebirth. Birds are chirping a little more joyously. Buds are appearing in the garden. Depending on where you are, the cold winter weather is starting to fade or if you live in a warmer region, your body is slowly adapting to temperature increases.
Spring is the perfect time to perform a personal inventory on goals that we started the year with. What worked? What didn't? What changes would we like to see in the next couple of months or maybe for the rest of the year. The rebirth of the earth during spring is energizing regardless of where you live and the type of climate you are in. Spring is also the perfect time of year to focus on getting the results you want.
I often review what I would like to achieve in my life every couple of months. It helps me focus on both long-term and short-term planning. I figure out where I want to be in the next year or two as well as in the next 3 to 6 months. Reviewing my plan, identifying results from the past couple of months or misses, a couple of times a year makes it easier for me to either refocus and continue my path or make changes. Let's face it, plans were meant to change! Life would be really boring if it didn't change.
Would you be surprised if I told you that regardless of your goal (eating better, losing weight, reversing chronic illness or pain, moving your body, drinking more water, stop eating sugar, etc.) there are 5 key steps that will help you be successful? Most of us think that if we have a specific goal, there are unique steps we have to take to achieve that goal. In fact, there is one single approach that gets results time and time again.
Here are 5 ways to get the real results you want, regardless of the goal.
#1 ACCEPT YOURSELF
This can be the hardest step of all! Humans make mistakes, get off track, achieve results or priorities change. The key is to accept that us and life is imperfect. Unfortunately, it is not easy to accept ourselves. We are shown what a "perfect" life looks like constantly in the news, on TV, in movies or through social media. The constant stream of impossible standards makes it really hard to accept ourselves and our lives.
Key questions to ask to focus on accepting yourself are:
What are my strengths?
What do my friends (or family) appreciate about me?
What do I like about others? Which of these characteristics do I have?
In addition to asking questions, understanding our behavior is separate from ourselves promotes self acceptance. How many times have you made a mistake (any mistake) and you've beat yourself up over it? Mistakes are a critical way to learn. It is not a reflection of our self. It is an action that helps us get better at a task or activity that is important to us. Separating behavior from the self and questioning why we acted the way we did, leads to self acceptance.
An example of self acceptance is changing an unhealthy behavior. Let's use the example of wanting to stop eating sugar. Sugar happens to be a very addictive substance. As addictive as heroin! Trying to reduce the amount we eat is really hard! It has nothing to do with our ability or skills. It has everything to do with addiction. Most of us don't think of addiction when we are trying to stop eating sugar. We often think there is something wrong with me, that is why I can't stop.
This is a great example of how we need to separate behavior from the self. Eating sugar is a behavior that can be managed. It has nothing to do with if we are a good person or are disciplined or have will power. Instead, it is recognizing that making a change in a well established habit is hard. There will be set backs, we will have withdrawal symptoms and temptations. That is part of being human. Accepting that reducing sugar is hard but not impossible, is how you get results and become self accepting.
#2 INCREASED SELF AWARENESS
What are you afraid of? Are you afraid that eating sugar is going to cause Type 2 Diabetes? Are you afraid eating sugar will make you sick enough that you can't play with your grandchildren? Are you afraid that your sugar addiction will continue to make you unable to walk a flight of stairs without being out of breath?
Self awareness is when we have the ability to define our fears and motivations in order to recognize and even influence our behaviors. Self awareness gives us the ability to make choices in any situation. Continuing with the sugar reduction example, if I know what triggers me to eat sugar, I can make a decision about whether or not I am going to eat sugar at any given time. A trigger could be a stressful day at work, a fight with a spouse or significant other or being sad about a life situation. Once I am aware of the trigger, when it happens, I can choose to eat sugar or not to deal with that trigger. The self awareness allows me to accept my situation and my choice.
It is OK to make the decision to eat sugar even if we are trying to cut back. We are not robots. We are human. If we make the decision to eat sugar, we can very easily start reducing sugar the next day or the next meal. It is not a big deal to have a set back. Accept it and move forward. Every meal or snack is another opportunity to work on reducing sugar.
#3 IDENTIFY CORE VALUES
Core values are the beliefs and activities that we are willing to do to get results. A core value helps us make decisions in the moment. Think about a family gathering. Typically, the gathering is going to be full of traditional foods that do not support the results you want. At the same time, the foods are part of wonderful memories and may not be foods that you eat regularly. Depending on your core values, you may decide to eat all of the foods you are served or you may decide to eat specific foods that are more closely aligned with you getting results.
#4 LINK TO YOUR CORE VALUES
One of the most freeing experiences I had once I went plant based was the ability to say no to certain foods at family gatherings. When I first started eating plant based, I only ate that way once a week. Over the years, the number of days I ate plant based increased and now I do not eat animal products 4 days a week. My body feels awesome and I no longer feel "pressure" at family gatherings to eat animal products. I know my core value is the health of my body. I am unwilling to regularly eat foods that I know will cause my body to react negatively.
This doesn't mean I won't indulge. If I am going to indulge, I manage it. I make a conscious decision to make sure other meals I eat are aligned with my core values. This means if I decide to eat spaghetti or raviolis or tiramisu, I make sure the meals leading up to the indulgence and after the indulgence match my core values. This is not a punishment! It is simply recognizing that indulgences are going to happen. It is OK to make this choice because I can link back to my core values the next day or next meal.
If you need to be reminded of your core values, especially when first making a change, write it down on a sticky note, make it a reminder in your cell phone, repeat it to yourself before you fall asleep at night and again when you wake up. Repeating and reminding yourself is a great way to make the core value part of your day, every day.
#5 DEVELOP TRUST IN SELF
Do you think you need to have a very structured program to achieve results? Studies show that structured programs work for awhile but often fall to the wayside. This happens because eventually, we tire of rules. We want to think for ourselves. We want to be empowered to get the results we desire without following rules. This is where self trust comes in.
Having structure at the start of a change is a helpful way to kick start our results. The key is to find what part of the rules really work for you. When I started a plant based diet, I defined it as not eating animal products for a full day. Then I decided to work on what this looked like. In the beginning, I ate a lot of frozen veggie burgers with a side of rice, steamed veggies and a salad. This plan worked for me for many years. It also allowed me to add more days each week to be plant based.
Over time, I started cutting out more toxins in my life by going organic. I was able to eliminate seasonal allergies by eating 80% organic veggies and grains but I still ate factory farmed meat and fish. Then, I had several health issues. I entered peri-menopause, I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism, my adrenal glands were shot from the past 30 years of constant stress and my body started to change. My core values told me that I was not going to use pharmaceuticals to deal with this situation.
I started doing research and finding new ways to fight my health issues. I took acupuncture to reverse hypothyroidism. I learned to get off the frozen veggie burgers by making my own with ingredients that support a healthy thyroid and peri-menopause. I use seed cycling for hormone regulation. I tracked my diet to rebalance the amount of fat, protein and carbohydrates I eat daily. Meditation, increased weight training instead of aerobic activity and getting out of a job that I was miserable in, was key to managing stress. I cut out gluten, corn and eggs. I reduced the amount of grains I eat.
The changes I've made were extreme at times but my health situation required it. Now that I am in maintenance mode, I cut back on some actions. I eat eggs once a month and gluten once a week. But these actions are OK because my health is maintaining. I trusted myself to pay attention to my body to ensure what I am eating and practicing every day is working.
You may think that you don't know enough information to trust yourself to make progress on the results you want. I would argue nobody knows yourself as well as you do. You know what motivates you, what works for you, how you feel daily and what makes you happy. No one else knows you as well as you do. Do your research, learn the basic information you need to know to support your goals and then customize it to your situation and your life.
If you need help getting started to achieve the results you want, a Certified Health Coach like myself is a great option! I am obsessed with helping others learn how to get the results they want.
Have you been diagnosed with an illness and aren't sure how to make lifestyle changes?
Are you looking to create new habits so you can stop being exhausted, moody, stressed, overweight, bloated and gassy?
How does working with me change your life? You could:
✅Be more present with the kids
✅Entertain and socialize with family and friends
✅Banish fatigue and gain energy
✅Shed that extra weight and keep it off
✅Eliminate skin rashes and acne
✅Sleep through out the night and wake up feeling rested
✅Say goodbye to brain fog, mood swings and headaches
✅Stop worrying about your health
✅Reduce stress and anxiety
✅Take active vacations and long road trips without fearing a flare-up
I offer a FREE 30 minute consultation where we will talk about your unique situation and how we can work together to create a personalized solution that gets results.
It’s very simple.
No jumping through hoops and NO PRESSURE.
If we determine it’s not a fit, we’ll go our separate ways for now.
If it is a fit, we can take the next step and get you started on the path to better health.
Using the 5 steps outlined in this article gets you the results you want but it can be overwhelming. It may feel like you don't know where to start. A great place to start is by taking one goal you want to achieve and work through the 5 steps. Making new habits can be tough in the beginning but eventually it gets easier and easier because over time, it just becomes part of your routine. The important part is to get started! Taking a small step everyday leads to progress and results.