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How to stick to healthy habits (and take a huge leap forward in life)

Two months into our 12-week nutrition and lifestyle coaching program, the participants are rockin’.  Each week they share huge breakthroughs, such as “I gave myself a compliment this week, and for the first time, I sincerely accepted it” or “I had a really stressful week, but I really managed to focus on what I truly needed and food wasn’t an issue”, or “Last week I gave up.  I slipped back to my old way of thinking and my old habits.  Then something shifted and I decided to keep going.  Usually when I slip up I back track for a good 6 months”.  These are HUGE breakthroughs.  Much bigger than simply sticking to simply sticking to diet plan.

Despite the successes, participants are starting to wonder how to truly stick to healthy habits for the long term.  What happens when the weekly coaching sessions stop?  Health and fitness is not a 21 day, 4 week, or 90 day fix… it really is a lifestyle. At the start of a program, it’s exciting.  But then that excitement wanes, and staying on track becomes just a little less, well, exciting.  Have you ever lost weight, or started healthy habits, felt amazing, only to slip back into old habits, gain the weight back (and then some).   Did you feel disappointed? Frustrated? Did you feel like a failure?   I don’t want that to happen to you…ever.

Today I’m going to share with you some strategies to make your new way of thinking and being, a permanent lifestyle change. Honestly, you could, and for best results should, use all the strategies.

1. Have a coach. Yes, I am a coach, and I own Ascend Fitness Inc., a fitness coaching business.   That’s because I 100% believe in the power of having a coach. I have a coach, and I would have never reached the level of success that I have reached without a coach.   There’s a reason why our clients stick with their program long term and transition into making a lifestyle change. Our clients have coaching, support and accountability. We have clients who report that the only reason they were able to fit in a workout when work or life became busy was because they knew they had booked an appointment and their coach was waiting. Yes, even with a coach, there’s the potential of ‘falling off the wagon’; it happens. But, with a coach, you’re guaranteed to get right back on. Consistency is key to your success.

2. Change your mind.   Your actions stem from your beliefs, and your beliefs start with your thoughts. It may sound a bit woo-woo, but a fast track toward being and acting the person you want to be starts with your self-talk. Personally, I start each day with affirmations. My affirmations used to be short statements, more like mantras. My affirmations have now evolved into longer statements that align with how I would feel if I was a ‘level 10’ in a certain area. The trick, though, is to find the emotional connection to the words. It’s no enough to simply recite the paragraph; you need to FEEL it.Here are some of my current affirmations:

  • I have a healthy, peaceful relationship with food and my body.  I can easily say, “I’m not hungry” and move on with ease.  I feel light and energetic.  I eat with relaxation and gratitude. I am present.
  • I completely love, accept and appreciate where I am right now. I am exactly where I need to be. I am strong, beautiful and healthy.
  • When I work I feel relaxed, energized and organized. I am clear on my vision and am relentlessly focused on my goals

3. Set regular, realistic action goals and track them. Every week in this program I have given you a daily/weekly success list. If you want to make long-term changes, you need to focus on small, daily habits. So often we set goals, but only revisit them monthly, or yearly. We don’t think about them daily, and therefore miss out on the opportunity to achieve our goals. Why action based goals? Because you can control action; you cannot always control results. Skip the “I will lose 10 pounds by August 15th” goal and focus on the action steps.Personally, I set weekly goals in the aspects of life that matter to me the most. I call it areas Healthy Body, Family Love, Healthy Mind and Fantastic Entrepreneur. Each week I update and print out my goals in my journal.  I’d love to share the weekly goals template with you.  It’s made a huge impact on my life: personal and business. Click here to download the exact tool that I use… along with a sneak peek of what’s on my weekly success list.

4. Revisit your WHY regularly. You may want to put your why as part of your weekly plan so, or read it a few mornings per week. For every problem there’s a solution (I learned that lesson when building my business). If your why is strong enough, you’ll find the how. Sometimes you need to become creative with the how, or more realistic with your plan depending on your situation.

5. Journal. If you don’t journal, I highly recommend that you start. Journaling can help give you clarity, break through problems, get to know yourself better, and reduce stress. Personally, I also use my journal to keep my weekly challenge/ goals. Not sure how to journal? Here’s a simple way to start:

  • Get a journal or note book. If you like pretty things go to a specialty store and find a pretty journal. If you’re stuck on how to create the perfect start to your journal, start on page 2. That’s what I do.
  • Block time to journal. Morning is likely best.
  • Write down something you’re grateful for in life and three things that define success that day. Yep, stop at three. Any more and you’ll have an ongoing to-do list and never feel accomplished. You can of course write more than these two things, but this is a fantastic place to start.
  • The next day, reflect on your previous day’s wins and challenges. One or two sentences are fine. Then, start again with gratitude and defining success.
    Here are some examples of ‘success items’

    • I will be 100% focused on my one-on-one meeting with Mike from BNI
    • Between 1 and 4PM I will shut off all distractions and be relentlessly focused on my work projects
    • I will complete Week 5 Handouts for the Fit and Lean project
    • I will prepare my family a health meal and really enjoy time spent as a family
    • Grocery shopping

Thanks so much for sharing part of your day with me.  If this article at all helped you, or if you feel inspired, I would be so grateful if you could share it with a friend so you can help them as well!

And if you missed the link to download the weekly success tool, here it is!