You Won’t Change Your Life in 30 Days (or 90 days or Whatever)

change_your_lifeHello beautiful Rinsers! I’ve missed you! Today I’m going to talk about something which I think is very important in our culture that focuses on quick fixes. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about – all these lose weight/change your mindset/quit smoking etc etc in 30 days self-help books and programmes.
For the record,  I’m not being a hater here because you can certainly BEGIN to change that quickly but I really think more realistic expectations would help people stay on track and improve their lives long-term.

Example 1: Losing weight and becoming fit

Especially if you have not been an active person and you haven’t been eating well most of your life, it’s very easy to jump start your weight loss. Your body will go into shock because of your new habits and you’ll lose weight in no time. What’s the problem then? Sooner or later you’ll stop losing weight at an astounding rate you got used to. Your body won’t be in shock forever and your weight loss may either slow down or stop entirely. Who wants to do all the work and see no results? No one. This is the reason why a lot of people either 1) become more restrictive with their diets and exercise regimes and develop unhealthy and unsustainable habits or 2) get demotivated and get back to their old habits, which now are likely to cause a yo-yo effect. If you’re just chasing the high, the low will get you.

What’s the solution then?

Try to make sustainable goals, depending on your current fitness/eating habits. Do you eat junk food every day and binge on sweets? Try to address one problem at a time by first decreasing such behaviours and then making them an exception (which btw you should allow yourself to make from time to time guilt free). Add two exercise sessions per week to that and you’ll start to see sustainable results.
The big plus of such an approach is that you start enjoying the small changes and you can truly incorporate them into your life. With restrictive diets and quick fixes, you feel like something is being taken away from you and you’re likely to rebel against it or just feel like you live a life of deprivation. Healthy lifestyle is a marathon and not a sprint. Don’t listen to friends and acquaintances offering you overnight effects. Make small, sustainable changes instead and your results will last for a life time.

Example 2: Changing your mindset

This is even more difficult than changing your eating and exercise habits. Why? Losing weight and becoming fit will get you a LOT of approval in our, let’s be honest, superficial culture. Your friends will tell you that you look great and even if some will hate on you for saying “no” to gorging on Pick’n’Pay cake for colleague’s bday, your visible effects should keep you motivated. Now, with changing your mindset, things are much more difficult because culturally there are many wrong believes that are accepted. Just as an example, many women still believe that men are cheaters or abusers and this is just the way they are. It will not gain you popularity to decide for yourself that it’s not true and refuse to accept so little for yourself. People will get upset with you and resent you as a result. “Does she think she’s better than us?” they will ask, which may make it difficult for you to upkeep your change. The same will go to saying “no” to anything that’s socially accepted and expected but you don’t feel is good for you (examples include: becoming less stressed, deciding worrying is pointless, saying “no” to fear-mongering, not indulging in constant complaining or in gossip…).

What’s the solution then?

Decide what matters to you and stick to it, whatever others say. It’s difficult, it’s challenging but if it’s important to you, it’s important to you. You have one life.

Example 3: Bad habits

Maybe it’s the New Year’s Resolutions Time and maybe you’ve just decided to change your life. This is why you will now quit smoking, get rid off all your pot or stop overspending. From now on you’re going to be perfect! For a day or two… and then you’ll fail. If you aim high and you rely solely on your will and self-determination, it’s a really rough ride. Think about it! Your life won’t change overnight so you’ll still have to deal with your friends who smoke or ads on TV encouraging you to spend.

What’s the solution then?

I’m not saying here that going cold turkey is always a bad solution and it never works. There are also some drugs for which it’s the only way forward but I really hope that you’re not addicted to any of those. For most of us mortals, however, getting rid off bad habits is much more successful long-term if you change them gradually.
When I eventually successfully quit smoking (touch wood), I started by cutting down to 10 cigarettes a day and then downgrading slowly but surely. When I was down to 1 cigarette per week I stopped enjoying smoking and I realised how it affects me negatively (increased anxiety, immediate but temporarily shortness of breath). At 1 per month I found it gross. I haven’t had a cigarette in 4 years but I’m still craving one as I’m telling you this. This just shows that it may take 21 days to change a habit but that doesn’t mean that your inclinations towards it disappear entirely.

Growth in life should be constant and you should strive to keep improving every day. Once you’ll lose weight you may figure out that you want to cut down on sugar too not just on calories. When you’ll stop dating bad boys, it’ll be time to focus on meeting the good ones. And so on and so forth. There’s no change in life that will change EVERYTHING and you’re setting yourself up for a disappointment, if you think that what you’re currently striving for will make you a completely new person in 30 or 90 days or whatever it is that your current plan assumes.

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6 comments

  1. I find you also have to be realistic when making long term changes in your life. Of course, it’s good to aim high but sometimes you might need to accept that not everyone is destined to be a bikini model. That doesn’t mean you should be defeatist or shouldn’t strive for the best but it is also good to find a way not to be disheartened if you only lose a bit of weight and end up somewhere in between. You never know you might not become a bikini model but as you get fitter you might discover a new sport you like doing or a good at. I guess part of that may come with age and maturity.

    Also, I think we have to realise that sometimes if you really determined to change something – it may require some tough choices and major sacrifices at least at the start. E.g. If you really want to lose weight, you’ll likely to have to cut down on eating out and boozing … which will likely have an impact on your social life. As you said, people will also get judgey and negative too and you’ll need to find ways to deal with that or be unpopular for going against the crowd.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, I guess I didn’t mention that some goals should never even become goals and you should think well before choosing them as your life will have to change to accommodate them.

      I’m not sure whether going against the crowd makes you unpopular. Often people who are strong-willed and feel secure with their choices, regardless of what others think are highly regarded. I remember this one guy in high school who never drank but was always hanging out with the cool crowd. Eventually, he started drinking towards the end of university (go figure) went overboard for a year or two and then chose moderation. I remember trying to drill him about it and he would always just say “Because I don’t want to”, not angry, not annoyed, just in a firm way.
      I think we also naturally gravitate towards people similar to us, if we change. When I quit smoking I really didn’t keep my smoker friends for long. It was not a deliberate decision but that’s just how it worked out for me.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I think that sometimes the problem is that people make changes and get angry about it too. It’s like they get grouchy and expect every to fall in line with them. Sometimes they become a bit fanatical about it too. I swear this is why there is so much hatred towards vegans in the world. Because there are a lot of them who are fanatical about it. They’ve made the change and now they make it their mission to push other people into doing the same.

        It seems like the key is to be very certain about your decision for yourself and not concern yourself about what others are doing – like the guy you spoke about. I have a friend who hasn’t touched booze in his life but is super happy to be in boozy places and with boozy people – he’ll even pour wine for us! He couldn’t care less what the rest of us are up to because he is comfortable with his decision.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah and they also hate people who choose the middle way – vegetarians and pescatarians – even more than they hate meat eaters. You can’t just walk around expecting people to be exactly like you are. The fit community has its sins too. It’s as if once you are trying to be healthy, you should always be perfect. Never eat anything unhealthy, never just get a bit lazy and stop exercising. It’d be nice if people were striving for moderation and not extremes.

        Yeah, I think people just should be more comfortable with what they choose and stop feeling like they must explain their choices to everyone. Not everyone is going to like them and accept them but that’s true whatever you choose to do.

        Like

    • Long time no speak! Yes, I’ve been a victim of “change your life in X days” programmes many times until I realised that it’s not that straightforward and it’s the slow and steady that wins the race 🙂

      Like

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