How to plan healthy changes into your lifestyle
Many clients report to me that they would like to follow a healthy lifestyle but they just don’t know how to implement the changes into their busy lifestyle. Changing from an unhealthy lifestyle to a healthy one can be a major change depending on where you are right now. Realistically it doesn’t happen overnight; it takes planning and implementation. Having a previous career in IT and Event Management I know that any changes or ideas involve a vision, the reasons for change, a plan, implementation and constant reviewing to see what’s working and what’s not. And you could say that it is the same when it comes to implementing healthy habits in your life. So let’s have a look at what’s needed so that you can start making those positive changes, and you can start looking and feeling amazing.
It’s important to have a clear idea of what you want to achieve, what your goal actually is and when you want to complete it by. Is it to lose weight, improve your general health, overcome a health condition etc.? You will definitely find it helpful to have a clear picture to identify where you are right now and where you want to get to. I have listed some ideas below of the things that you should think about so that you can make your goal really clear.
You can download a blank vision form here.
So now that you have identified what your vision is you need to work out how you are going to get from where you are now and where you want to get to. As with any good action plan it’s important to break things down into small chunks and put a date on each action to identify when you are going to complete it by. As the old saying goes:
Question: “How do you eat an elephant?”
Answer: “In small chunks”
To get started on planning your healthy lifestyle you may find it helpful first of all to list down the healthy habits/beliefs that already work for you to make sure you don’t forget them, you don't want to throw the baby out with the bath water. Now write down all of your unhelpful habits/beliefs. It’s important to be clear about the unhelpful habits/beliefs so that you can then plan how you are going to change them. I have put some examples below.
You can download a blank helpful/unhelpful habits form here.
Once you have decided on the things that you want to change it’s a good idea to plan them in week by week. This way you can spread the changes out so you are not over facing yourself by trying to make too many changes in one go. I have inserted an example below of what your weekly plan may look like.
You can download a blank action plan form here.
It's also really helpful to plan in your healthy meals and snacks through the week, as well as time for when you are going to exercise and time to relax. You can download a blank planner here so you can plan these sorts of things. Make sure the meals you choose to eat are nutritious and tasty and you have a good variation. Ideas for meals can be found on the internet, recipe books or health magazines therefore I have left a blank space under each meal option so you can remind yourself of where it can be found. Once you’ve decided what you’re going to eat for the week then make a shopping list so you can be sure you have everything in that you need. If you are making soups, stews or curries make a big pan so that you can keep some in the freezer, this way you can be sure that you always have healthy meals that are ready to
eat in the week. Try and get into the habit of doing this once a week. It helps if you pick the same day every week so you know that on that particular day you will always plan your meals, do your shopping & cook, plan time for exercise & relaxation etc.
FOCUS ON WHAT YOU’RE DOING WELL
As you’re making positive changes to your lifestyle it’s important to make sure that you take stock each day of what went well. This is a really good way of feeling good about yourself and will help you to keep on track. You may have found that in the past you have set yourself unrealistic goals and then berated yourself when you haven’t managed to adhere to it. This can lead to thoughts and feelings of “I’m rubbish”, “I’ll never be able to do this”, “I’m a failure” etc. This sort of negative talk can destroy your self-belief and self-esteem and before you know it you’re back on track with the unhealthy lifestyle.
It is a good idea to focus on what went well no matter how small it is. So if on a particular day you may have eaten a big cream cake but had 2 healthy meals then focus on the good - the 2 healthy meals, rather than the bad - the cream cake. When you start focusing on the things that went well then you start feeling better about yourself and your self-belief increases. Even if you can’t think of anything positive that you have done with regards to your health regime then think of something else that has gone well during the day or that has made you feel good e.g. it’s been a nice sunny day, my friend called for a lovely chat etc. Do this on a regular basis and you’ll soon start feeling better about yourself.
I always think of this as using a magnifying glass; if you keep focusing on the bad then you’ll keep seeing the bad which doesn’t feel good. If you shift your focus and remind yourself of the positive things that have happened in the day, then this will help you to feel good.
You can download a daily positive focus form here.
REVIEWING On a weekly basis get into a habit of reviewing what has gone well for you, what you managed to implement, what didn’t go so well, what you could change and set goals for the following week. This will enable you to move forward with your plans and use what works well and what doesn’t.
You can download a weekly review form here.
SUPPORT Following a healthy lifestyle can seem like a hard task if you’re doing it on your own so it’s best to get regular support, this can come from family members, friends, work colleagues, a therapist etc. Having support will help you stick to your goals and plans. Joining up with a group of friends with a similar goal can really help, this way you can share ideas and give a helping hand to each other. Remember however to keep things positive, don’t get into focusing on what’s gone wrong; always make sure you all focus on what’s working well.
A FINAL WORD I know this all sounds a bit business like but if project managing things can effectively bring in positive change into a business then why not make it your business to get fit and healthy?
Find out here how I can help you improve your physical and mental health and well-being.
Disclaimer: This article is for information only, always check with your GP first before embarking on any health regime.