This might be unpopular, but…
Although WHAT I’m doing to get really healthy is important, I think the more important place to start is HOW I plan to do it.
It has gotten unpopular in the online health world to talk about structure. It’s all about “moderation” or “the 80/20 rule”. People start to think you have issues if you have a structured plan for your diet. Going with the flow is fine if you are not actively trying to change or improve something specific.
The truth is, adult behavior change is one of the hardest things we will do. In Triggers: Creating Behavior that Lasts- Becoming the Person You Want to Be by Marshall Goldsmith, he writes:
“There is no harder task for adults than changing our behavior. We are geniuses at coming up with reasons to avoid change. We make excuses. We rationalize. We harbor beliefs that trigger all manner of denial and resistance. As a result, we continually fail at becoming the person we want to be.”
I’m so guilty of getting to a certain level of accomplishment with my health goals and then getting complacent. I tell myself, “well, I feel better so it’s okay if I relax my goals for the night because really, I earned it.”
What would happen if I didn’t ease up at the first sign of progress? Maybe I would actually see real, lasting change. Maybe I would find the limit of what I can do.
Can I actually do what I say I’m going to do for an extended period of time?
It’s really freaking hard.
On the bright side, I think it translates into other areas of your life. If you can do that one hard thing that you have been wanting to do, then I bet you’ll be able to do the next one, and the next. Self-confidence and motivation have a cumulative effect like that.
A big part of how to actually get those wins is accountability.
In "Triggers", Goldsmith talks about the importance of having a coach to report out to each night. The coach helps you bridge the gap between your best intentions and the reality of what you actually do on a daily basis.
Find someone who can ask you: “How hard did you work on X today?” (eating according to your plan, getting your steps, being more patient, sticking to you budget, etc.)
Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you'll be disciplined enough to do it on your own.
When I paid off $60,000 of debt in 35 months, I had someone constantly checking on my progress. It’s not nagging if it’s something you really care about.
Helping someone move toward their goal is one of the greatest gifts I've ever given. In turn, it's one of the greatest gifts I've ever received.
So, all of this is to say that I’ve put a structure around what I think will make ME most healthy and I will begin to explain that next time. It’s not popular to talk about structure, but it’s absolutely imperative if you want to change your life.
“We do not get better without structure.” - Alan Mulally
In the meantime, think about who you can count on to keep you honest about your effort.
Maybe next time I will finally tell you what I'm eating... :)