Last week I went over why you should not be striving for perfection when trying to achieve a goal. This only leads to frustration and obsession. Rather, it is better to set up a plan that is sustainable and that will allow you to be consistent.
So how can you build consistency into your life and maintain it?
Here are some ideas:
Start small. I am a huge fan of Leo Babauta’s work, and this is one of his major philosophies regarding behavior change and habit setting.
By starting small you are more likely to succeed, and therefore, feel more successful about your progress along the way. It is very common for people to start out attacking a goal with a lot of enthusiasm. Therefore, they change a zillion things about their routine to help them reach this goal. At first, it is not a big deal, but soon it becomes overwhelming. You fail to meet a few of your habits, and you become upset and drop the goal altogether.
Instead, you should start out small with only 1-2 process goals. Process goals are different from outcome goals in that your process goals are habits that will help you achieve your outcome goal(s). For example, if your goal is to wear a size 10 jean (your outcome goal) then a process goal might be to strength train 3x/week, eat out only on the weekends, protein with every meal, etc.
Pick only 1-2 of these process goals that will be easy for you to adopt and stay consistent with. After a month or two, move onto others. This will allow you to build confidence in yourself and make it much more likely for you to stay on track even if you fail to meet a habit in a few months down the road.
Do not let one mishap throw you off your path. As I said in my previous article, obstacles are going to come up – tough times are going to happen. You have to accept these and move on. Perfection is not the goal, consistency is the goal.
In the grand scheme of things, missing one workout or having dessert at one meal is not going to make much of a difference at all if you are consistent the rest of the time. The problem occurs when you fall off the wagon for the rest of the week after you “cheat” or fail to follow your habit. Just move on.
Be realistic. I am afraid that many people have unrealistic expectations and goals of what they can achieve. This is especially true with regards to body composition. You have to understand that when you see pictures of shredded women and men this is not how they look all the time. Most of the time, they have spent a few months prepping for the shoots. Also, many of these people will tell you that they are not healthy and do not feel good.
I want you to picture your ideal body. Now ask yourself if you achieve this, will it really make you happier if you do not feel good? An aesthetic goal is great, but if it is wreaking havoc on your body then you need to try something different. A particular look is not worth feeling like shit.
Find something you enjoy and that is sustainable. Some “experts” will say you must sprint 2x/week to burn the most fat, or intermittent fast to get ripped, or eat low carb to keep insulin low. These plans may work really well, but only if you can stick with them. If you do not feel good intermittent fasting or eating low carb and do not enjoy sprinting, then these are not good plans for you.
You have to understand that there are many ways to skin a cat. You have to find what works for your body and mind. Find something you enjoy that keeps you active. Find an eating style that is sustainable and that works for you. High carb, low carb, 3 meals a day, 6 meals a day. It matters very little unless you are a hardcore aesthetically-oriented athlete (and even then these details are not set in stone).
For a while I bought into the low carb dogma, and while I do believe it is very effective for many people, it does not work well for me at this time. I strength train pretty hard and am on my feet most of the day. I have also battled hypothyroid issues and have found a moderate to high carb intake beneficial for my energy and performance.
So you always need to ask yourself: What allows me to feel and perform at my best? This is the most important question you can ask when trying out a “style” of training or eating.
Set the stage. This simply means to set up your surroundings so that it is easy for you to engage in the habit you are attempting to adopt. This is also something I picked up from Leo Babauta, and it is a simple way to improve your consistency.
For example, if your goal is to start going to the gym every morning then you might set your gym clothes out the night before. Or, if you are trying to lose fat you might share your food log with a friend to increase the likelihood you will eat better. Or, buy a bunch of vegetables, and chop them up to have in the fridge for the week. You are more likely to eat them because you know they will go bad otherwise.
There are many ways to “set the stage”. These actions do not force you to engage in your habit, but they will make it much more likely for you to do so.
So there you go. Some strategies to help you build consistency into your life. Do not worry about being perfect – no one is. Focus on what you can control and strive to make your body feel better – whether that is eating less to lose fat, eating more to improve performance and improve mood, etc. You have to find what works for YOU! Do not let anyone tell you what works for your own body.
Lastly, I just switched newsletter servers so if you haven’t already make sure to sign up for my new newsletter at the top right of the screen – you will receive my webinar, “Your Guide To A Healthier And Happier You,” for FREE. Have a great week!