Most of us roll our eyes at products that promise jaw-dropping results like massive weight loss or effortless fitness. We all know that change is more than downing piles of diet pills or eating like a celebrity for two weeks.
At the same time, at some point in your life, you've probably felt discouraged after setting lofty health goals only to fall flat on your face. Maybe you decided to prepare all your dinners from scratch, but within a week you caved and ordered a pizza. Perhaps you decided to hit the gym every morning at 5 am, but the first below-freezing day had you huddled under the covers, hitting the snooze button like a champion.
How does this happen? We've all felt the surge of adrenaline that comes from setting a new health goal. "This time will be different," we tell ourselves. "This time, I'll finally see results." We probe for something more motivating, something that will get us excited enough to actually change. But it never quite works. Even a fitness guru screaming at you to do more pushups and proclaiming the wonders of protein powder can't motivate you forever. You're not alone. None of us can muster up enough inspiration to propel us to success overnight.
Oftentimes, our impatience acts as a roadblock to change. We don't see instant results, so we stop trying. With things like health, however, it can be helpful to break each large goal into small, manageable pieces instead of shooting for the moon and nose-diving every other week.
Rather than trying to make all your meals from scratch, why not choose one or two nights a week to try it? Once it feels easy, add a third, and so-on. Instead of aiming to hit the gym at your least favorite time of day, make it a date with a friend or family member, and try going once or twice a week at a more optimal time. Notice you don't have enough veggies in your diet? Don't go on a juice cleanse and hope you acquire a taste for kale. Instead, pick up one or two bags of your favorite vegetables at the grocery store and add them to your lunch this week.
At some point, life will get busy, you'll miss a goal, and feel bad. You might even imagine another friend who would "never" do what you did. Please stop! Did forgetting one goal one time undo all the health benefits you gained from meeting it the past few weeks? Nope. All it did was confirm what was already true: you're not perfect. And neither is your friend.
We're not getting anywhere with idealistic goals, unrealistic comparison, and self-contempt. Let's take it slow, let's try again when we mess up, and let's take little steps towards better health. Health is composed of thousands of decisions. Let's change them one by one.