I know that you have probably discussed food tracking before. I’m very much the type-A, all or nothing, personality. I’m working on what impact that has on my diet. When I’m eating well, I’m 100% eating well and committed. When I’m eating poorly, I’m 100% committed to eating poorly. As you can imagine I have wide swings in water retention, weight, mood, daily life and the want/need to exercise.
I read your article a few weeks back about starting small and changing one thing a week. I’m going to try that however I want to track it. This week I’m trying to make sure I drink enough water but I want to be reminded to do that. I find a lot of the food and habit tracking apps to be super judgey. I’m also very much a “I’ll start over tomorrow person” by the time I get home from work. Is there one you recommend? Or is there a way to be reminded? Set an alarm in the calendar? What’s the best way as I want to build on these habits week after week.
You are a type A person. When you do something you are 100% committed to it, whether it is for better or for worse. Right? So, if that is how you like to think about things then why can’t you look at this small change approach in the same way? Why can’t you say to yourself that you are going to kick the sh-t out of small changes? Why can’t you say that you are going to small change better than anyone else? Tell yourself that you will stick to weekly changes like gum sticks to your shoes on a hot day. This small approach can work for anyone, even people like you who need it all or nothing. You just have to look at it differently.
Water is an easy thing to track. Get a water bottle, it doesn’t have to be anything fancy, fill it up once before work, twice at work, then once for your drive home. If you do that you should be good. Simple.
Food, on the other hand, is a little more challenging. Let’s start by getting over the fact that the food apps are judging you. They are not. They are apps. They are programmed to let you know if you are hitting your nutritional goals or not. When they tell you that you have exceeded a certain macro nutrient, it is just the app holding you accountable. I think you may be the one judging yourself (but that is a whole other article for another time). am a fan of myfitnesspal, as it has helped me manage my nutrition. Give it a try. It is super simple to use and it really does work.
If you don’t want to opt for a nutrition/fitness tracker then make something up on your own. Commit to eating 3 servings of fruit and 3 servings of vegetables every day. Pick your 2-3 servings of protein and 1 to 2 servings of grains. Make a list and then tick it off as the day goes on. If you get to the end of the day and you haven’t been successful in your goals then figure out why and try again tomorrow.
Allow yourself to have 3 treats a week. Not cheat meals, or cheat days, but treats. Let’s say you know there is a girls’ weekend coming and you really don’t want to be the one eating the salad at dinner. So save your treats for the weekend. Or maybe you’ve had the worst day and all you want is to go home and eat ice cream out of the container while watching Netflix. Go for it, but remind yourself those are your treats. Allowing yourself some leeway helps to keep the guilt at bay. Make sure you plan for those little mistakes along the way. And the beauty of being a “try it again tomorrow” kind of person is that everyone has to try again every day because each day presents new challenges.
I suggest you make a calendar for yourself. Something big and colourful that you can put on your fridge, or on your bathroom mirror. Something that you can see every day when you wake up. Have your weekly goals written on it and check off each day that you were successful. If you weren’t successful 6 out of 7 days then just try it again the following week. Tell yourself that you can’t progress to the next goal until you finish the last goals. All of them.
This is really no different than how I approach goal-setting in all areas of health and wellness. For example, when clients are wanting to learn how to run, they start following a progressive program. If they do not complete all of their workouts in one week then they must repeat that week before starting the next. It is no different than what you are trying to do.
So go all into this challenge. Take it seriously. Commit to each change, one at a time, then start stacking them. You may just surprise yourself with who you have become by the end of the year.