Let’s say you’ve realized that by eating differently you can improve your health, your mind, and your quality of life. (By the way, it’s true!) What is the next question you might ask yourself?
HOW DO I START TODAY, RIGHT NOW, IMMEDIATELY??? WHAT EXACTLY DO I DO?
I think it’s a completely valid question because beginning anything new can be a bit overwhelming and often there is so much information available that it can create a kind of paralysis that keeps us from reaching our goals. We might look at all the new research available or have an inkling of how our pantry needs to be reordered, and it all might seem like it’s just too much.
I get it, I really do – but I want to remind you that you don’t have to do a complete overhaul of your life to begin seeing the benefits of eating healthier. In fact, taking smaller steps may even increase your chance of success because each small, incremental change will become an integral part of who you are. By making a lot of small changes, you might not even realize just how different your life has become – until you look back at where you were and where you are now.
When you look down your path to the future, if you start to feel a little panicky about all the changes that you want to make, then scale back. That anxious feeling is a sign that you’re trying to do too much at once. Instead, figure out what one small change you can make this week and then spend some time practicing it. You might surprise yourself after a few weeks when you see your own transformation.
That being said, some of us respond to change of a greater magnitude. I tend to fall into this category of all-or-nothing. I find that fresh start, that feeling of complete change, quite exhilarating. I’ve discovered, though, that when I take a step back and review those big changes, they’ve actually been incremental. For example, over 18 months ago I decided to complete a Whole 30 challenge. It completely altered how I look at food and what I now know to be healthy. (Previously I was all-in for the Standard American Diet (SAD) – except it wasn’t making me feel healthier.) I wish I could say that from that moment forward I was 100% Paleo because I KNOW it makes me healthier. But I wasn’t. I’m still a work in progress. So although I completely revised how I like to eat and how I strive to eat, it’s still baby steps for me. I still need to regroup periodically and evaluate where I am and then make progress from that point. It’s a little like 2 steps forward, 1 step back. But that’s totally OK. That’s how I make my own incremental changes. And when I look back to where I was then and what my nutrition looks like today, I am truly pleased and proud of the progress I’ve made. I’m not perfect, but I like where I’m going.
So back to that earlier question: How do you start? It’s easy! PLAN. PREP. ACT.
PLAN: Take some time to consider what change or changes you want to make first. When in doubt, go very small. Set a goal that you know you can reach. Make it easy! Make it a sure thing. Don’t worry about any other changes or even about actually doing this one. Just make a plan. Maybe it’s something like buy one new vegetable at the store or find one new recipe to cook. Simply start daydreaming about what you would like to do differently this week. The planning stage is quite creative and can be really relaxing. You’re visualizing a goal that you’d like to achieve – it’s quite powerful to spend some time visualizing yourself achieving that goal too so don’t be afraid to see your success!
PREP: Now it’s time to get a little more serious about your goal(s) so that you can get ready to make them a reality. Start gathering together the things that you need to make it a successful week. Do you need a new water bottle? Do you have some protein that needs to be defrosted? Have you searched the recipe page here or the internet or your bookshelves for some tasty recipes? Have you made a shopping list? This is where you start getting more concrete with your goal. Remember, the goal should be small so the prep will also be relatively easy.
ACT: Get moving! Whatever change you’ve decided to make this week is perfect! Don’t over think it, just do it! Sometimes we get bogged down in the details but there’s really no need. By taking those first steps, like swapping in eggs for your cereal on a single day or two or doubling your veggie serving on Mon-Wed-Fri, you will quickly see that each accomplishment creates a new opportunity to succeed. Before you know it, you’ll be celebrating your accomplishments every week. And that’s a good thing!
Don’t be afraid to start your transformation! Each day brings a new opportunity to start fresh, eat healthier, live more vibrantly. You deserve it!
Looking for a couple meal ideas? Try these: