With summer in the air, are you suddenly excited and committed to better eating, exercise and self-care habits?
There’s something so motivating about the warmer weather and sunshine. It helps us commit to the things that we want so badly – to look and feel great.
But for one reason or another, it can become a struggle to maintain in the long term. At some point, the excitement and motivation wanes.
What’s the secret weapon in maintaining good habits, once the initial excitement fades?
I’d like to share one powerful strategy that really works – “connecting your focus to your feelings.”
Here’s how it works.
Deb came to me with concerns about some ongoing health issues: bloating, lethargy, IBS symptoms and other digestive issues.
She knew what to do to fix things and in the past, she’d been a regular exerciser and a healthy eater, feeling fit and energized. But for a myriad of reasons, all of that had fallen by the wayside.
Even thinking of her past success wasn’t enough to help her get started. She was despondent and felt like she could never make the change that she could stick to for the long term!
After some reflection, Deb realised that she really wanted to make it work this time, because making these changes would lead to a happier, better quality life as she got older.
What she did next was what really sealed the deal.
Firstly, she committed to experimenting for just one week. Not one month, or six months, but one simple week. This was a chunk of time she felt confident she could commit to.
Next, she devised some food and exercise experiments for the week.
Experiments help you to avoid that feeling of failure, because you’re just testing to see if something works (or not). There are no expectations (or feelings of perfection) around experiments.
So for that one week, Deb was flexible and experimental with her choice of foods, eating patterns and exercise approach. She was delighted to find a few things that really worked well – that she enjoyed, that fitted with her lifestyle, and that she could confidently commit to in the long term.
What really made the difference, in fact Deb’s key factor for success, was mindfully observing how her body responded to the experiments. She connected her focus (healthy habits) with her feeling (how her body responded).
When we met again, she was excited about discovering what works, but more so, that she was strongly connected with the consequences of her habits.
On the days she ate right for her body type, she felt comfortable, energized and light – with enough energy for exercise. On the days she ate too much or the wrong foods for her body type, she felt heavy, despondent and limited.
Deb was suddenly aware that simply being mindful of the consequences of her habits – the physical, mental and emotional feelings they created – made it far easier for her to find the motivation for choosing the better option, more regularly.
And as Positive Psychologists say, strong motivators are essential for successfully making long-term change.
Connecting your focus with your feelings is a simple approach and is a core of Ayurveda, which has been around over 5000 years.
Simply being mindful – being in the present and noticing the consequences of your actions in an objective, non-judgmental way – is a powerful secret weapon for long-term change.
What is ONE thing could you pay attention to this week?