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 2; click to read Carmen’s first 5 secrets to making lasting change.
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?
Why are some people able to completely lose 50+ 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?
Last week, I shared the first 5 of my 10 favorite tips for making lasting change in your life. These are the strategies that have worked over and over again for me and for my clients over the past 15 years. Here are tips Nos. 6-10.
You can use the following strategies in any area of your life, but let’s focus here on Priority No. 1, your health.
6. Know Your Triggers
Know yourself and those situations when it’s easy for you to lose your healthy resolve. For example, I now know that if I’m overtired, if my blood sugar is too low or I feel stressed from too much to do, I can easily reach for unhealthy foods.
Since I understand my triggers, I can set myself up prevent them from happening, at least most of the time. And for those times when I do let my triggers get the best of me, I can make a plan for what to do.
Here’s another trigger in my life, and I bet you’ve experienced this, too: insufficient sleep.
What to do? I try to plan my travel, clients and commitments around always getting enough sleep. This is my life, so I get to choose my sleep amounts, my level of busy-ness, the things I say “yes” or “no” to, and how much free time I have. Do you do this?
Tip: Keep in mind this will be an ongoing project. For example, I’m always reminding myself to simplify my life and say “no” to more things. 🙂
Now what can you do if you get triggered? If you don’t get enough sleep for whatever reason, be aware the next day that you may be hungrier, and give this strategy a try:
- Have raw veggies cut up for quick snacks
- Put extra greens in smoothies
- Eat more water-based items to fill you up (soups, salads, etc.)
- Remind yourself that you’re hungrier than normal because you’re tired (don’t just react by eating)
- Drink one extra glass of water
- Get outside for air and nature
- Eat extra protein if you need it
- Add raw Nori sheets in a salad (calming and nourishing)
- Go to bed early
- What are three of your own personal triggers that can cause you to eat unhealthy foods?
- How can you set up your life to not get triggered at least 80% of the time?
- If you get triggered, what is your plan?
7. Nix the All-or-Nothing Mentality
You will not be perfect with any change you want to make. You will take two steps backwards sometimes. Your boyfriend, best girlfriend, mother, sister, father, boss will upset you at some point, and Haagen-Dazs might become your new best friend that night.
You’ll get busy at work with no time to create new meals, so you’ll get bored of your “healthy” foods and start craving unhealthy foods. Falling off the wagon is totally fine and completely human; it’s how quickly you pick yourself up and start again that matters most.
The biggest cause for failure I’ve seen in my clients is not allowing room for mistakes, beating themselves up and then giving up because they think, “Well, I just ate that piece of cheesecake, I’ve ruined it, so I might as well eat the whole thing.” Or, they don’t see results in one week, so they think, “this doesn’t work.”
They have a hard time seeing that it takes years for our health to be what it is today, so it’s probably going to take a few months to get it to where we want to be. Letting go of perfection and allowing enough time for changes to occur are crucial for making lasting improvements in every area of life.
Good things to remember:
- Healthy people don’t make healthy choices ALL the time, just most of the time.
- Beating yourself up never does anything but make you feel worse.
- Success is not measured by how seldom you fall off the wagon, but rather by how quickly you get up.
- Where do I tend to have an all or nothing mentality with my health?
- Where do I tend to be inconsistent?
- If I fall off the wagon, how can I quickly get back up and keep going?
8. Stop Caring About What Others Think
Do you worry that you’ll be perceived as high maintenance because you’re the one at the restaurant looking through the menu for the healthiest salad, or asking the waiter for brown rice instead of white rice? Do you worry that your friends will think you’re no fun anymore because you’re ordering sparkling water + lime instead of a Mojito?
In my early 30s, I realized that I felt better if I ate dinner by 7 p.m. most nights. I slept more soundly, I woke up feeling and looking healthier, and it was much easier to maintain my best weight. Many people, however, prefer to go to dinner late at night.
Here in Bali, we’ll have an evening Kirtan, or dance class, and then go to dinner afterward. Sometimes, I head home right after class, while other times I feel like going out with my friends but don’t want to eat.
So I don’t. I simply tell them I’ve already eaten, but that I want to go out and spend time with them. I order sparkling water and lime, or if I am a little hungry, I’ll ask the waiter to bring me an appetizer of raw veggies. Often, I have more fun because I’m focused on connecting with my friends, not my food.
If you are dependent on other people’s approval or constantly worried about disappointing them, you’re going to find it hard to maintain a healthy lifestyle that works for YOU. There will always be someone who will tell you that you’re too strict with your eating habits, that you should relax and stop worrying about what one glass of wine or one slice of cake is going to do to you, that you deserve this because it’s a special occasion, or because it’s homemade, etc.
Your health and the way you feel have to become more important that what other people think or say. At the end of the day, you are the one who will wear what you ate, not them. 🙂 Well-meaning mothers, fathers and friends included.
Questions to Ponder:
- When do you find yourself caring what people think about your lifestyle habits?
- How often do you eat something because you don’t want to disappoint someone?
9. Beware of Your Negative Voices
My favorite life coaching company, Handel Group, has a brilliant way of explaining these voices that are in all of our heads. The Handel Group calls them your “chicken” and “brat” voices. They talk a lot, speak loudly, sound convincing and can totally derail you from your goal.
Chicken, Brat and Excuse Voices:
- “I’ve had a really rough day at work and I deserve this ice cream.” (brat)
- “My mom made this pie especially for me and I don’t want to disappoint her.” (chicken)
- “Coffee isn’t really that bad for you, in fact I’ve read it’s actually good for memory and clear thinking, and you know, I wasn’t really feeling that unhealthy when I was drinking it.” (brat)
- “My husband isn’t on board with the program and I don’t want him to feel like he’s eating by himself.” (brat and chicken)
- “My whole family is overweight.” (excuse)
These voices are powerful, but if you can recognize them for what they are, you can counter them by reminding yourself of your goals, your why and your commitment to yourself.
For example, I started drinking coffee after years of not drinking it, and recently I decided that I needed to stop drinking it AND start drinking one green juice per day.
Two days into my “No More Coffee,” you can read my exact “brat” voice above. 🙂 Fortunately, I could hear it for what it was (I want coffee!!!) and here’s my thought process that enabled me to stick with my health goal:
- That’s my BRAT voice.
- Even though I feel like quitting, it’s just a feeling, and I don’t have to act on that feeling.
- I’ve committed to this (and I’ve told other people!) and I want to stay in integrity with myself as I know if I don’t do this, I’ll quit in other things as well.
- My why: I feel, look and exude vibrant health as a 42-year-old woman, business and lifestyle expert. I always walk my talk, teach by example and from my own health and life.
The great news is, after passing through that one episode of wanting coffee again, I haven’t experienced the desire again, and it’s now day 23! So it gets easier, after you win your first argument with your “voice.”
- What sentences do you hear in your head that could derail you from your goals?
- Is it your chicken voice (I can’t do this)? Is it your brat voice (I don’t want to do this)? Or is it an excuse?
- What can you tell the voices?
“For those who practice and seek liberation wholeheartedly, realization is near.” ~ 21st sutra of Patanjali
I’ve noticed that those who make lasting changes throw themselves absolutely and completely into what they want, AND they combine their wholeheartedness with the magical ingredients of commitment and consistency over time. They are practicing and seeking change, and whatever we practice and truly seek, we will find.
I was recently inspired by a good friend here in Bali who did 50 days straight of yoga and surfing. Not only did he do both every day, without fail, for 50 days, he did it wholeheartedly, positively and with exuberance (which made him a joy to be around).
Similarly, I’ve noticed that the people who make long-term changes on my SexyFit Nutrition Challenge are the ones who watch every video, download every handout, and who are actively posting pictures of their new healthy meals on our private Facebook forum. They are also extremely generous and positive, commenting and helping other participants, joyfully and wholeheartedly.
I have no doubt that their mindset and way of being contribute to their lasting success, because the happier we are, which comes from presence, engagement and helping others, the higher our vibration. The higher our vibration, the more successful we will be at anything we do, including creating lasting change.
- How could you practice wholeheartedness in your health goals?
- How could you couple full engagement with consistency to achieve a health goal?
- I hope you found one or more of these strategies to be helpful to you. Welcome change in your life; it is an essential part of growing and creating the life you desire.
“Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.” ~ Maria Robinson
Be Happy…Be Vibrant…
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