Swap out your resolutions for sustained lifestyle changes

As we near the end of January, it is time to reevaluate your New Year’s resolutions to see if they are working or not. I find the idea of making resolutions restrictive as it generally comes with the decision not to do a specific activity or habit that we may have engaged in for many years. This may work for some individuals; however, for most people, resolutions can quickly become tiresome and may have been a little unrealistic, to begin with. 

When working with clients, the focus is on adapting and slowly modifying routines, which is easily achievable for most. The holidays are a time to relax and let go of habits; with this comes a certain ‘laisser aller,’ which most people enjoy but come January, they are looking for structure to put into place daily routines.

Working with routines, the key is to make lifestyle changes that can be sustained. Building up new habits little by little makes the whole process manageable and less stressful than all-or-nothing resolutions like, I will go to the gym three times a week.

For someone looking to increase the activity level, a new routine might start with going outside and walking around the block. After doing this regularly for several weeks, it becomes a habit. It is then much easier to gradually increase the walking time and build it up to whatever the person is looking for.

Working with routines also allows for days when everything seems to go wrong; even in the exercise portion, we just can’t get outside. So, instead of feeling guilty because we haven’t held fast to our resolution, we make sure that we get back into our routine of walking at the next possible opportunity.

I use the same approach when working with clients regarding nutrition and lifestyle. Gradually put in place a structure that allows flexibility without the guilt as we all have times when we have a long day where nothing has gone right, and we order takeout. That is fine because you know that the rest of the time, you are eating balanced and tasty meals that are adapted to your lifestyle and health needs.

Routines mean that you can also adapt to the seasons, to family situations such as unexpected visits and children leaving home. Practices do not have to change entirely but need to be revisited and adjusted to the new situation, considering any different health requirements.

So, if you are looking to make some health and lifestyle changes, it is always better to look at the little actions you can make and then build on them. It is like making a new recipe for the first time; we need to familiarize ourselves with the ingredients, understand the timing and how we assemble the ingredients, and finally, what it tastes like and any adjustments we would make. By the time I have made a recipe three or four times, I have generally adapted the flavours and texture to my liking, which will be different for everyone but is so important to acknowledge. 

Making lifestyle and nutrition changes is not about getting there first or losing the most weight but about feeling better, having more energy, and understanding and managing any health issues that we may have to the best of our capabilities.

Book your free 30-minute discovery with Susan Alsembach by calling (613) 620 3249.

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