If you have ever begun to eat healthier, lose weight, start to exercise or stop smoking, you have likely found that it is easy to stay motivated at first but it gets progressively harder to stay on track. And if you do not know how to stick to your new lifestyle change, you will fall back into old habits. So how do you persevere with the lifestyle after a few weeks or months?
First, you need support (A LOT OF SUPPORT)! You need someone calling you daily to ask how you are doing with the change and to offer moral support. You need people cheering you on, including family, friends, co-workers, facebook friends, etc. You cannot make a drastic lifestyle change without people pushing you, challenging you, helping you, motivating you, guiding you and praying for you. And I propose that the most successful lifestyle change happens when you do it together with someone else.
Second, you may need to change who you spend time with. For example, if all your friends smoke, it will be nearly impossible for you to quit smoking. Surround yourself with positive influences, who demonstrate the lifestyle that you seek.
Third, you need a plan that is very specific. Just saying that you want to lose weight will get you nowhere unless you plan the steps of your weight loss program. Be sure to have a short-term plan and a long-term plan with specific goals. You may do a diet for 2 months, but how will you maintain the weight loss afterward? Plan how you will respond the next time you are in a tempting situation.
Fourth, you must choose to say no! Once you start the change, do not turn back and do not begin to cheat. A little cheating will turn into continual cheating. For example, if you decide to become a vegetarian, you simply say no to every meat item on the menu. Or if you are giving up desserts, you simply say no to any dessert placed before you (even on special occasions). Do not give yourself the opportunity to cheat; just know that the choice is always no, whether it is January or June.
Here are a few examples that I have seen.
1. An individual wants to stop drinking, stop smoking and go back to college. So he moves to a new town, starts going to church/Bible studies and enrolls in a community college. Soon he has a Bachelor’s degree and has been clean for 4 years.
2. An individual modifies eating so as to have a healthy breakfast, protein bar for lunch and healthy supper every day (with no additional snacks). Soon she is down to ideal weight and runs marathons. She has stuck to the plan for years now.
A true healthy change will become part of your lifestyle. Don’t you admire people who have the willpower to say no? We all say it in January, but who says it the rest of the year? The ones who do are the ones who get the results. What has helped to motivate you to maintain your new lifestyle?