Starting and sticking with any program is a challenge, perhaps even more so for someone starting a program of exercise and/or healthy eating. Old habits aren’t easy to break.
Here’s an outline for a process that I think can lead to success, what I call The Four-Step Start.
We need both short-term and long-term goals. Someone new to exercise might set a short-term goal of walking a mile every day immediately after breakfast. The action trigger can be the completion of breakfast. After a week or two of success, the mileage can be increased.
Long-term goals can be quite varied. A friend recently said to me, “I exercise because I don’t want to be a burden to my children.” Another said, “I exercise because I want to be active and healthy so that I can watch my grandkids finish college, get married and have children of their own.” Mine is to do “90 at 90” – cycle 90 miles when I am 90 years old. That means I need to take care of myself now if I expect to be able to achieve this goal.
Write Then Down
There is great power in putting pen to paper. This step moves the goals from an idea to a commitment. Recently I wrote down my own goals for the next three months. I’m doing a much better job of completing them weekly as a result. I also record the weekly results.
Share your goals with others and ask for their support. My wife and I recently decided to become pescatarians – we no longer eat red meat or fowl but we continue to eat seafood. I’m telling everyone, which helps increase my commitment. I’d look pretty foolish if I ordered a hamburger in front of any of them. Public information has more impact than private information.
Prepare to Stumble
All of us have setbacks. We get sick, travel, have work commitments and face other impediments to achieving our goals. We need to anticipate these and remember the reasons why we’ve initiated the changes we’ve made. Reviewing our success to date can help us get back on the wagon.
Someone said, “Define the process that leads to success. Learn to love the process. Be committed to it. Be patient while you wait for it to work. Define success in terms of how well you honor your commitment to the process.”