The least you can do is the most you should start with. It’s tempting to “go big or go home” when it comes to starting or re-starting a fitness plan. You’ve done it before – bought a book, dropped $120 on the Insanity program (obviously having forgotten what Einstein said about insanity), or bought a piece of equipment off late-night television. You did the program faithfully for a day or so, then something came up, then you started again, and then you stopped for good. It’s not your fault – well, sort of.
The problem you ran into is that you tried to assume too many changes at once. Being a creature of habit is helpful, and allows you to be more efficient in life. Being a creature of habit also makes changing habits hard. You’ve heard the stat: try to change more than one habit at a time and you’re more than likely to fail. The crazy thing is that by only choosing one habit to change, there are still many obstacles to success.
One of this mistakes we make is thinking that a habit change is only one little change, when in fact, it is made up of many small changes. For example, quitting eating sugar might seem simple enough, by the reality of the habit is that you eat sugar many times a day in many different situations…this makes it several habit changes. You would be better served to break it down into more discrete elements, such as “no added sugar” on foods, or “avoid packaged sweets” – each of these choices being easier to keep track of and prepare for that simply avoiding all sugar.
Additionally, starting out with additive changes is a good idea. Don’t think about taking things out of your life, but make sure to add habits instead. Our first recommended habit change is to start taking a multivitamin and a fish oil tablet each day. You simply get one of those weekly pill boxes that old people have sitting on their kitchen counters, put two pills in each box, and then take them right after you brush your teeth in the morning. You added something very simple, and tied it to a habit (teeth brushing) that you already had established.
Additive changes are useful, too, because they can push out some bad habits. For example, if you are on the coffee – soda – beer hydration plan, simply setting a water-drinking goal can make a world of difference. Fill a 2-liter jug with water, and plan on drinking it each day. As you adapt to having more water in your diet, you’ll notice that you don’t drink as much soda, or coffee, or beer, simply because you can only drink so much.
Regardless of the habit, make the changes as small as you can stand at first, and add to them only when you have a new habit firmly in-hand.