Someone asked me last week, how long did it take you to live the way you do, and to become happy with your over all health, well it was about 11 years, then the rest has been tweaking and changing it to fit with my life at the time. The response was about how they didn’t want to spend that long, and hoped it wouldn’t take that long for them to achieve their health goal, but change is incremental, and particularly with health can be transformational, when we have the time and space we can create amazing changes.
Looking back on photographs gives you the best realisation of this incremental change that we naturally go through, how funny when we not only realise how much we’ve aged, or not as the case may be, but also how the fashions have changed. Did you really wear that? Or for me, did I really put that dye in my hair, and spend hours spraying it with hair spray to stand up like that. I don’t even want to consider the amount of chemicals I must of ingested due to this hair style alone during the 80’s!
In fact I feel that the big bang lifestyle change that so many people try to make particularly when dieting and trying to lose weight, really doesn’t work unless you are in the I have no choice position, and you have to change things. I have plenty of clients like this that something had to give, it was their health, and so the change has had to come quickly, for some incredibly quickly. Then they’ve made it their whole focus, some seeing changes they could never of imagined, and experiencing life in a way that has been eye opening.
But mostly big bang change can create huge resistance and then feel as though you’ve just given up everything, and there is nothing like feeling you are going without to want to then cheat and go back again. This is often where secret eating, and binge eating starts because the change has been too much too quickly and other support mechanisms haven’t been put in place, but they don’t want others to know that they can’t achieve it, so it all goes a bit downhill from there.
I mostly get this with dieters, who for years, go on a diet, go without, then go on eating and drinking benders, even people in my family the night after the Weight Watchers meeting where they had been weighed and given a start, they would go on a bender knowing that they had the rest of the week to be perfect again! This for me isn’t positive change, it’s definitely not a change that can be sustained without breaking it, because ultimately the underlying issues around eating and the types of food being eaten hasn’t been resolved, and tells me that the values behind the change are not yet in place.
Mind you let’s face it, sometimes there is nothing better than being given a rather big stick to set you on a goal that takes you in the right direction, this large stick suddenly has you focused on how you are living your life, and how your values in life were not supporting having long term health. Why are values important? Well they clearly tell you what is important in your life, and what you are more likely to make decisions on over others. When I’m working with clients who want to lose weight but have yo yo’d for years, the first thing I do is closely listen to them talk about what’s now driving them again to want to lose the weight.
Suddenly their weight has pushed a button that has now made it more important and to come to see someone like myself rather than go to a normal weight loss class to me tells me that they are looking for more of an understanding about why they are the way they are. No longer is it just that they need to eat less and exercise more, but why they are over eating and unable to control their weight. Often when I have clients for weight loss coaching or sessions, what starts off as an understanding of quality nutrition to feed the body and release it from the dieting cycle, then becomes an understanding in the psychology of what is driving it.
For those working to lose weight who aren’t losing it, working out your values in life can be quite eye opening as to what is important and it can help you to realise why your weight isn’t high up on those values.
Values drive your behaviour, they drive your decision making. If your health isn’t high on them but family, work, career, security are then you will put these ahead of your health, hence why it’s the weight that triggers your focus, but unless your values change for the long term then you are unlikely focus on your weight or health beyond the point that you have achieved your weight goal. There is a high likelihood at that point you will move back into your original pattern of living and eating, until the weight becomes an issue again.
So making change incrementally can be far more helpful, and focusing on working on your values so that they align or you understand them to not feel so disappointed in yourself.
Although the big bang changes can feeling freeing, liberating and be life changing, but looking back over the photo’s and seeing change over an extended timeline should help to bring the realisation that change can happen, and almost painlessly, with little effort, how did you make those changes, one day at a time, in small steps, without noticing. Your hairstyle, clothes all didn’t just change over night, occasionally maybe, but these will have evolved, and followed a flow, that felt right at the time. Putting the next step in place, imagine building up your health like building up your wardrobe of clothing, one piece at a time, so that its ever changing with little effort.
This approach can suddenly bring the realisation that making a 1% change in choice this week can have an accumulative effect. I have so many clients who just through coming to make dietary changes have transformed their overall lives to become cake makers, artists, more creative, speakers, writers. Possibly this is my influence possibly because I was trained in Art and Design, and believe we should be able to express our selves creatively, and too often work doesn’t allow this but having this ability can allow us time to re-evaluate, space to think about what we enjoy in life.
So today consider how you can create 1% change this week in your life style, what small thing can you work on, that will be easy. I love easy change, ones that you don’t really notice at all.