Picture this: It’s a brand new year. Last week you had confetti cascading around you, champagne bubbling with the thrills of fresh starts, and the excitement of new possibilities and achievements welling up inside you. You raised a glass, eyes glowing with the fire of a brand new year, your heart ablaze with resolutions so potent they feel etched in the stars.

And then…

January arrives. The days return to the familiar hum of routine. As the weeks roll past, the gym membership gathers dust, the healthy breakfasts get shelved in the morning rush. Failure rears its ugly head. Again. And guilt and shame start to creep into the back of your mind.

It’s like we’re all signing an invisible contract that says,

“I hereby agree to overestimate my willpower and then beat myself up about it later.”

Sound familiar? Don’t worry, you’re not alone.

But hold on, we haven’t yet reached the point where you throw in the towel completely! This year, let’s rewrite the narrative. Let’s not just make resolutions, let’s make something actually happen by making changes the right way:

This article is not plugging another silly detox, or a pie-in-the-sky Wish List. It’s about crafting realistic goals that resonate with your real life, igniting action with the fuel of your desires, and propelling them forward with the rocket boosters of coaching strategies, new habits, and accountability. Buckle up, because we’re about to embark on a journey of your transformation, where your ordinary becomes extraordinary, and “I wish” becomes “I am!”

Making Changes Strategy #1: Review History

Reflect on your previous resolutions. What worked well, and what were the stumbling blocks to the unsuccessful ones? George Santayana wrote, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Don’t be the person who keeps repeating the same faulty techniques expecting a different result. Learn from the past!

Making Changes Strategy #2: Don’t Rely On Motivation

The initial burst of motivation for any change is always short-lived. We are creatures of habit and creatures who avoid discomfort. Change can be hard, so it’s easy to fall back into comfortable old patterns, even when we know they’re no good for us.

This is why it’s so important to schedule your actions. If you want to work out more regularly, you have to put your exercise times on your schedule. You cannot expect training sessions to happen regularly if you only pick up the dumbbells when you feel motivated to do so.

If you want to improve your nutrition, you must make a meal plan. You cannot expect to consistently make smart, healthy choices when you get home from work starving and there’s ice cream in the freezer.

Actions are what move things forward. Motivation comes from the positive changes that your actions cause.

Most people get that backwards — they wait until they feel motivated to do something.

Act now, feel good about it later!

Making Changes Strategy #3: Avoid All-Or-Nothing Thinking

In order to successfully make a permanent change of any type, you have to expect setbacks and stumbles. Lifestyle improvements are not accomplished by flipping a switch in your brain. They are behaviors that take the place of old habits and reactions.

Here’s the recipe for failure:

Let’s say you want to lose 20 pounds, and to do this, you promise yourself you’re going to quit eating desserts and get up an hour early to go jogging every morning.

So the CONCEPT is good — lose weight by eating less sugar and adding in some more exercise.

But this is exactly the kind of setup that is easily killed by all-or-nothing thinking. The first time you cave and eat that tempting dessert, the “all” mindset (“I give up desserts”) gets crushed by the eating of one dessert. You ate a dessert. So the all-or-nothing brain swings to the other end of the pendulum and tells you “OK, I guess I’m eating desserts again,” and you go back to your old habits.

All-or-nothing thinking keeps you on the yo-yo diet rollercoaster. It leads to losing and then regaining the same weight over and over again. It leads to frustration, shame, and despair.

This mindset much change!

Instead, expect to fail. Expect to have times when your choices and behaviors are not ideal. These are great opportunities to learn about yourself.

Together, you and your nutrition coach will examine these situations and come up with:

  1. A better understanding of why you did what you did
  2. Strategies to do better next time
  3. Ways to re-think situations, and tricks to change how you think about food

Making Changes Strategy #4: Set Up Your Environment For Success

We are strongly influenced by our surroundings. And by “surroundings” I mean both your household and work environments, and the people you surround yourself with.

  • If you’re trying to eat healthier, don’t keep junk food in the house. Simple. Make it hard to make bad choices.
  • Keep a set of exercise clothes in the car, so you can easily swing by the gym for a workout at a moment’s notice.
  • Set yourself up with healthy, ready-to-go foods like fresh vegetables and pre-cooked protein in the fridge. That way, when you’re pressed for time, it’s easy to grab a healthy option instead of having to hit another drive-thru.
  • Plan out your meals and snacks in advance so you know what to have on hand and what you bring with you.

Be selective about the activities you do, and the people you do them with. We often build associations with people and events in our minds. For example, your brain may have learned to associate hanging out with friends with food and alcohol. You may have taught yourself that watching a movie equals snacking on crunchy things while you watch.

If you take an objective look at your surroundings and your associations, you’ll probably find plenty of easy ways to make some positive changes in your eating behavior. Your nutrition coach can help you do this.

To summarize:

Making improvements, whether you have them in your mind as New Years Resolutions or just wanting to be better, requires the right approach. By learning from your past attempts, adopting the right mindsets, and working with your trainer on strategies and approaches that will work for you, you can be well on your way towards a better you!

making changes

Drop us a note if you want to talk about fitness and nutrition options with Nashville’s flagship personal training service. We’ve been helping people become their best since the 1990’s, and you can be next!

About The Author

Personal training

Dan DeFigio is the owner and director of Basics and Beyond fitness & nutrition in Nashville. Dan has been featured on CNN’s Fit Nation, The Dr. Phil Show, SELF Magazine, Readers Digest, Muscle & Fitness, Shape Magazine, and a host of other media outlets. Dan is the author of Beating Sugar Addiction For Dummies, and the founder of BeatingSugarAddiction.com.