Yay, we made it! We made it to the fifth and final step in this 5-step approach to making changes that last. We started with how commitment is the foundation of your healthy eating changes. Then we talked about how support is also key to your changes. The third step was on how to make your first change, following with turning that change into a habit. And that brings us to this fifth and final step – balancing changes.
Making your second, third, fourth (etc.) changes may sound easy, especially after turning your first into a habit. But, it’s always possible to get ahead of ourselves, so let’s work through it together.
I like to think of making changes in my life as a game of Jenga. (If you don’t know what that is, you can find out here.) Pulling out a piece and placing it on top is like taking out an old habit and replacing it with a new one. And just like in Jenga, you have to be careful with which habit (or block) you choose to remove. If you choose the wrong one, you may mess up all the progress you’ve made so far and have to start all over.
I think it’s safe to assume that nobody wants that. So, what do we do to avoid it?
Making That Next Change
After you have gotten your first change down, it’s time to pick a second change to make. This second change should get you one step closer to the goal you’ve committed to. For example, if you cut down from 14 desserts in a week to 10 desserts for your first change, you could cut down to 7 desserts (one every day) for this next change. Or if you started eating salads for 3 days out of the week for your first change, try for 5 days for your second change.
You could also choose your second change to be completely different from the first.
For me, my first change was to buy seasonal vegetables every time I went to the store. I’ve done that every time I’ve gone to the store for the past few months. So, this next change is to be active once a week for at least an hour.
Since I struggle with being active, I have to go slow on this one. I have to make sure I don’t challenge myself with a change I’m either not ready for or unable to do right now. To go from not intentionally being active to being active every day would be tough for me. So, to avoid turning myself off completely to working out, I will start slow and add on from there.
You’ll have to ask me in a month how that’s going…
As I was saying, choose a change that’s still challenging but fits what your unique motivation and needs. Once you’ve got an idea of what needs to change next, turn it into a SMART goal. Remember: make the change specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound (if you have a deadline).
Balancing Changes Takes Work
The reason why we talked about the importance of turning your changes into habits last week is that each change is building on the one before. If you think back to the Jenga analogy, you shouldn’t put the block you just removed on top of a shaky block. It will cause the whole tower to fall, right?
So, you need to be confident in each change you make before you can start adding more. Confidence builds each time you practice a change. In the articles I read for last week’s post, the researchers called this the “strength of a habit.” The more you practice a habit, the stronger it is. These are the keys to balancing changes: practice and time.
After you successfully turn your second change into a habit, you can repeat steps 3-5 over and over until you reach your goal. And that’s it! Well, until you make a new goal and have to start all over…
Making healthy eating changes is simple, though it may not seem like it if you’re new to this. But, it’s not easy by any means. Any changes that do not give into immediate pleasures but rather promote long-term healthiness are never easy to keep.
But, with this 5-step approach to making changes, you should be able to make healthy changes to your eating in no time!
Building From Ground Up
The reason I launched my blog with this five-week series is that I believe it should be at the base of any healthy eating blog or business.
The typical American diet is full of foods that are instigators of many health conditions today. If we want to start eating in a way that is going to promote our best health and if we want to use food as medicine, we have to be able to cut out the foods that may be harming us and replace them with foods that are going to heal us.
So, as we dive into using food as medicine, we can start implementing healthy changes by using this 5-step approach. Knowledge is only the beginning; we have to be able to do something about it and this 5-step approach can help you do just that!
Now that we finished all five steps to making healthy eating changes that last, do you have a favorite step? Or a step that resonates with you the most?