Hello 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.