Make Over Your Motivation
Week 1: Take Baby Steps
Ever start a diet or workout routine with the enthusiasm of a late-night infomercial host only to have your motivation disappear in no time flat like a canceled sitcom? You're not alone. Research shows that a quarter of weight-loss plans fall by the wayside within two weeks. On the other hand, stick it out for a month and your odds of success skyrocket. "Doing something for 30 days ingrains and strengthens the brain's neural pathways, so you're likely to keep that behavior going on autopilot," says Lawrence Perlmuter, PhD, a professor of psychology at Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science in North Chicago. Use our four-week bail-proof guide to survive the first crucial month of a healthy-lifestyle makeover without losing your thin-spiration.
Like a Marine drill sergeant with a class of new recruits, you're at your motivational peak. But trying to do too much too soon can sabotage even the best-laid weight-loss plans. "Make small, steady progress toward your ultimate goal during the first week -- no drastic changes," recommends psychologist John Norcross, PhD, coauthor of Changing for Good.Stick-with-It Strategies for Week 1 Start small.
Aim to make one tweak a day: Add a new fruit to breakfast, skip your before-dinner cocktail, take a walk after lunch, do whatever you can to nudge your weight down. Once you adjust to these new habits, it will be easier to add more ambitious exercise and diet changes as the month goes on, Norcross says.Don't waste your willpower.
A recent study published in Psychology & Health suggests that people have a finite amount of self-control, and that it can run dry, just like a bank account. To keep from depleting your source of inner strength during this first week, avoid situations that present temptations. Plan to have dinner at home instead of at restaurants; don't walk by the doughnut shop on your way to work. And squeeze in a workout first thing in the morning, before your motivation runs out.Vary your vocab.
Saying you "should" do something, like exercise, immediately implies that you feel the activity is a burden, says Michael Sachs, PhD, an exercise psychology professor at Temple University in Philadelphia. Instead, replace should with want in your vocabulary. "By telling yourself that you want to work out today, you'll get into the right mind-set to go to the gym," Sachs says.Do the write thing.
You've heard that jotting down your weight-loss goals makes them more likely to stick. "The very act reinforces them in your mind," Perlmuter says.
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