I want to get healthy, lose weight, tone up, feel confident about my body
It will usually strike about half an hour after you have eaten a huge unhealthy meal. A strong feeling that you want to change things. You decide it will “start” on Monday. A strict diet and a serious program of exercise. You are going to drop 2 dress sizes and look really skinny (because when you were 20 this was actually possible).
I do not need to tell you that this sort of “take no prisoners” plan is not one that has a high chance of succeeding for women in their 40s and 50s. I’m also not too keen on the goal – which is to look “skinny”. If the goal is to get fit and healthy and have a fit looking body with muscle tone to match then I’m on board. But the 2 week method is not going to work for me.
What do I think is more likely to work? Well it will take more than 2 weeks and it is not a program with a beginning and an end. It is a slow process which will see you work in one healthy habit after another in a gradual way and in a way that is permanent so that you reach your goal and can sustain a lifestyle that means you do not have to continually start a new program every time summer approaches or your school reunion is coming up. You will always be happy in your skin and you will be fueling your body so that you can perform at your best. You will feel good too – eating well is one of the ways to achieving a good mood and a clear mind. You might have to make small adjustments when you feel yourself slipping up every now and then but nothing drastic.
The process is one where you will pick up one habit and practise that habit for at least 2 weeks (until it is not a big effort anymore). Then you keep up that habit and start a new one. For example I would start with drinking more water – at least 2 litres every day. Do not move on to the next habit (eg eating at least 5 serves of vegetables a day) until you master the water drinking. The habits usually work best when they involve you doing something rather than not doing something. For example: “eat 5 serves of vegetables” is better than “eat no more chocolate”. If you are feeling satisfied after your 5 serves of vegetables you might not feel like a family block of chocolate anymore.
Give it a try – all it takes is one habit – master it and then decide on another.
Some suggestions for new habits:
- Eat protein as part of every meal and snack.
- Eat 5 serves of vegetables a day.
- Include some leafy greens every single day.
- Plan your meals for the week every Sunday.
- Prepare one healthy weekday dinner in advance each Sunday.
- Train at least 3 times a week and try to include at least one really tough session in there.
- Schedule your workouts in like important meetings that cannot be cancelled.
- Take up a new sport or hobby that involves you moving around – and one that you enjoy.
- Order vegetables or salad with your meal instead of chips.
- Think carefully about what you are going to eat when you are going somewhere where you know choices will be limited. If necessary bring your own.
- Find a friend to take up habits with you so you can check in on each other.