Editor’s Note: A version of this article, written by Carmen Marshall, business and lifestyle expert and USANA 2-Star Diamond Director, originally appeared in Glam Today Magazine and is reprinted with permission. This is Part 1 of 2; check back next week for 5 more secrets to making lasting changes.
Have you ever wanted to change something in your life, started off really well, and then — before you knew it — skidded back into your old habits?
Has your “I’m-completely-committed, no-chance-I’m-quitting plan” of No Sugar For 30 Days ever turned into “GIVE ME SUGAR NOW!” in less than a day?
Why are some people able to completely lose 20+ pounds and keep them off, while others quit their Lifestyle Diet two days into the New Year? Why can some people achieve what they want in their health, wealth and relationships? What are their secrets?
I’m going to pull my best strategies from my own life experiences, as well as what I’ve learned from my business + lifestyle clients over the past 15 years to help you make positive and lasting changes. You can use the following strategies in any area of your life, but in order to focus, let’s zero in on your health.
1. Know What You Want + Why
When setting goals or making changes in your life, success begins with knowing exactly what you want and why. Clarity and vision are everything. Why? Because you can only create what you want, if you know exactly what that is — what it looks like and how it feels. This is exciting and liberating because you realize how truly powerful you are. You have the power to write your own life script.
So, where do want your health and fitness to be by summer? How about by the end of the year? I like to have both short-term and long-term goals, so that I can see and feel results in the near future, but at the same time be focused on creating long-term health and lifestyle habits.
Let’s kick it up a notch…
Why do you want this?
What will you have once you’ve achieved it?
How do you want to feel?
What will NOT having it give you?
Successful, healthy and happy people are extremely clear on what they want. They know why they want it and how they want to FEEL when they have it. Just as importantly, they know the cost of not having it.
Ready to do this with me?
- It is March 31, and I am: ____________________.
- It is Dec. 31, and I am: ____________________.
- I want this because: ____________________.
- I want to feel: ____________________.
- The cost of not having it is: ____________________.
2. Magnetize What You Want
Whatever we focus on expands, and one of the easiest ways to sharpen our focus on what we desire is to use pictures. Pictures, memories and scents evoke strong emotion, and strong emotion quickens manifestation. We can use this to our advantage when setting out to make changes in our lives.
For example, at the start of my online nutrition program, the SexyFit™ Nutrition Challenge, I ask all participants to buy a journal. They begin by writing down their short- and long-term health goals and their why. I then have them fill their journal with pictures of how they want to FEEL when they accomplish their goals.
This creates a mini-dream board that they can look at every day. By reading their why, their goals and seeing inspiring pictures of who they want to be and how they want to feel, their will to stick with my lifestyle program increases, simply by focusing and dwelling on what they want.
“I know for sure that what we dwell on is who we become.” ~ Oprah Winfrey
I do a version of this exercise most mornings. 98% of the time, it’s non-negotiable; it’s like breathing for me. (I’ll explain later what happens when I don’t do it.) Upon waking, I “Create My Day.” I look at my dream board and my goals, and I write in my journal for 5-10 minutes about my purpose, my vision and my life. I focus on where I want to head, what I want to create, and I give all my energy to that.
This creative process first thing in the morning helps me stay focused on what is most important to me. 98% of the time (notice the correlation), sugar and non-exercising don’t stand a chance with me. The vision I have for my life is so BIG that it’s not even possible to entertain the idea of having ice cream (will make me feel tired) or not exercising (which will make me feel listless). Vibrationally, they simply aren’t a match.
- Find three pictures today in a magazine or on Pinterest that reflect how you want to look, feel and BE for your health.
- Put them on your dream board or in your journal.
- For the next 30 days, look at them every day and journal about your vision for your health.
3. Decide What You Are Willing to Give Up
For most things, I believe it’s not an either/or world. I believe we can be wealthy AND spiritual, sexy and heart-centered, vulnerable and strong.
However, when trying to make changes in our lives, there is usually something that we need to give up in order to have what we want. For example, smoking, sugar, processed carbs, and excessive drinking are simply not options if you want to look and feel vibrantly healthy.
Here’s a mantra I used in my early 30s when I was struggling with eating issues:
“Nothing tastes as good as healthy and vibrant feels.”*
*My healthy twist on Kate Moss’ infamous quote “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.”
If you’re not willing to give up the things that are standing in the way of your amazing life, whether it’s unhealthy lifestyle habits or toxic relationships, then go back to No. 1 and get even clearer on what you want and why you want it.
Usually, this is all you need to do to realize that you and your goals are worth so much more than the things you might find hard to give up.
- What is one unhealthy habit that I’m willing to give up in order to reach my wellness goal?
- What mantra could I create for myself that would help support my goal?
4. Fill the Void
Nature abhors a vacuum, which is why when smokers quit smoking, they tend to gain weight. As soon as we stop something, we fill it with something else — and it’s often as unhealthy as the habit we stopped, or worse!
It’s human nature to want to fill up empty space, whether it’s silence during a conversation, the void after breaking up with your boyfriend, or the glass that used to contain the wine you promised you wouldn’t drink anymore.
As important as it is to give up something on your way to vibrant health, it’s just as important to fill that vacuum, and to fill it with something healthy.
For example, if you are giving up milk chocolate because of the sugar, dairy and unhealthy fats, try replacing it with raw, non-dairy chocolate sweetened with coconut sugar, and enjoy it twice a week as a treat. Or try my favorite dessert, SexyFit™ Raw Vegan Chocolate Pudding (PDF). You won’t even miss your old milk chocolate after trying it!
Also, when filling the void, remember that you don’t have to fill it with an “equivalent” treat. A craving for a cookie can be satisfied with a call to a girlfriend, or dancing madly in your living room to a Maroon 5 song. 🙂
In my early 30s I realized that drinking alcohol at parties totally derailed me and set up huge sugar cravings the next day. I replaced alcoholic drinks with sparkling water + lime in a wine glass. This worked brilliantly because no one asked me why I wasn’t drinking (peer pressure can make us cave), I actually had more fun at parties (connected more with people), and I woke up feeling GREAT the next morning, completely on track with my health goals.
Later on, I experimented with vodka, lime juice and stevia (a healthier, low-glycemic alcoholic drink) but truthfully, I still feel better with sparkling water + lime in a wine glass! On special occasions I’ll have a glass of red wine or my “vodka cocktail,” but for the most part, feeling healthy and vibrant the next morning is so much better for me than the fleeting enjoyment of a couple of drinks.
- What is one thing I need to stop eating, drinking or doing to reach my health goals?
- What can I replace it with?
5. Have a Plan for When You Feel Like Quitting
You WILL feel like quitting at some point, and you are NOT a loser for feeling like that. If it were easy to lose and keep off 10 pounds, save money every year, and go for a run when you don’t feel like it, everyone would do it. You’re not weak, undisciplined or a failure if you feel like quitting; we all feel like that at times. It’s whether you act on that feeling that makes all the difference.
Remember, becoming healthier or wealthier or happier is not just a one-time decision, it’s a choice you make every day. You won’t always be perfect, but if you persist, you WILL make progress. I like to think of it this way: Success is not measured by how seldom you fall off the wagon, but rather by how quickly you get up.
So, when you do get that quitting feeling, don’t throw in the towel. Instead, ask yourself, “Why do I feel this way? What can I do about it?”
When I feel like quitting, it is usually because I’ve missed a couple of days in a row of my Creating My Day ritual. I haven’t been aligning myself with my vision, so slowly my vibration lowers. When I recognize that I am feeling this way, it reminds me to re-engage in my morning ritual. I also re-visit my goals and my why. Are they compelling enough? Has anything changed for me? I also call my closest friends who know me well and who believe in my goals and my life. They are always there to remind me WHY I want something and to reassure me that YES, I can do it.
In addition, dance, music, reading books, connecting with friends, getting out into nature, self care, and massage are all things I do when I am lacking in the motivation to stay true to my vision of who I want to be. Why? Each of those activities raises my vibration. When your vibration and energy are high, it’s so much easier to manifest what you want, long lasting changes included.
- When do you usually feel like quitting?
- What’s your plan for when you feel like quitting? What will you do?
- When I feel like quitting, I will ________.
Next Week: 5 More Secrets
These are the first five of my 10 Secrets to Making Lasting Change. There are lots of ideas to absorb, questions to ponder and action steps to take (plus a yummy recipe to try), so I’ll let you work on these strategies for the next week. Visit me on Facebook and let me know how it’s going and if you need any help or suggestions.
Next week, I’ll be back to share the remaining 5 Secrets (they’re even juicier!!).
Be Happy…Be Vibrant…
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