How I’m strategically going about the necessary changes to take control of my wellness again.
We’re halfway through February, and Spring is right around the corner. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t beyond excited to be done with winter, but that’s an entirely different subject.
Over the past few months, I fell off track with my usual lifestyle; the type of lifestyle that this entire blog is supposed to be about. Do I regret it? Not really, because I have some incredibly fun memories from the past few months. However, I made too many excuses and my body is NOT having it. I always say that the Capricorn in me makes me a huge planner, so I figured I’d share how I go about planning and implementing lifestyle changes in a non-overwhelming way.
Step One: Doing a Lifestyle Audit
I took time to be honest with myself and do somewhat of a body and lifestyle scan. I took note of how icky I felt, how sad my skin looked, and how my energy and motivation was sub-par. Then, I considered my habits and actions; not having enough fruits and veggies, eating way too much processed sugar, not exercising enough, and not spending enough time doing mentally enriching activities like reading.
Step Two: Create Goals (And Optionally, Vision Boards)
After my lifestyle audit, I used the things I needed to improve on to create a list of goals:
- Eat less sugar
- Be more active
- Eat whole, nutritious foods
- Incorporate mindfulness into every day
- Drink more water
- Stay on top of skincare
- Improve gut health
I also love to make a vision board because it gives me more physical inspiration for the lifestyle goals I have. I indulge in my love of Pinterest and find photos of yummy healthy Buddha/nourish bowls, green smoothies, PB energy balls, overnight oats, and fitness inspiration. I then take these photos and make a sort of collage using Layout from Instagram (a free app). This helps me see what I want my lifestyle to look like. If you’re into manifestation, this also really helps you put powerful intentions out there into the Universe!
Step Three: Make Goals More Specific
The original list of goals I came up with are relatively broad. Yes, it would be nice to ‘drink more water’, but how much water is ‘more’? How am I going to incorporate mindfulness into every day? What does ‘be more active’ actually mean?
This step is SUPER important because it’ll give you actual goals you can write down and hold yourself accountable to. All I did was take my original list and expand it with specific, actionable or measurable steps.
- Eat less sugar: limit 3x cookies/sugary treats per week, limit sugary coffee add-ins to 2x weekly maximum (I’m looking at you, Dunkin’).
- Be more active: gym/exercise 3x weekly with at least one sauna session, incorporate at-home ab circuit 5x weekly.
- Eat whole, nutritious foods: ensure the majority of meals include one colorful veggie, snack on fruit more often.
- Incorporate mindfulness into every day: deep breathing exercise every morning after waking up, have at least one day per week for reading before bed, do a Monday morning intention-setting breathwork session after waking up.
- Drink more water: drink at least 100oz daily, start mornings with a glass of water.
- Stay on top of skincare: get one professional facial each month, STOP PICKING.
- Improve gut health: take a daily probiotic & a collagen supplement.
As you can see, this will give you concrete guidelines to follow and will make it much easier for you to know if you’re on track or not. I don’t plan to cut out all sugar (because let’s be honest, life with no sugar would just not be a life worth living to me) but I can set a goal of only reaching for a cookie or donut once every few days rather than daily. Likewise, knowing I have a goal of 100oz of water daily will help me know that I should refill & drink my reusable bottle 4x daily, etc.
Step Four: Set Yourself up for Success – Do the Prep
Now is the time to figure out what you need to get started. For me, this involves meal planning, grocery shopping, and the purchase of skincare packages. I made an entire list of all potential meals I’d want to eat, picked a few, and then planned my grocery list accordingly.
This isn’t necessary, but I actually ate or threw out mostly everything in my refrigerator in order to prepare for an influx of new, better food. I really wanted to do things cold-turkey, but you don’t have to. Also, it was kind of helpful to have a sort of mardi-gras and eat the crappy food I had accumulated just so I could take note of how gross I felt from all of the sugar and processed ingredients.
Step Five: Begin your Journey
Now is the time to actually implement everything you’ve been planning. It’s important to know that the process isn’t linear. It takes trial and error to break bad habits and it’s important to go easy on yourself! As long as you refer to your list of actionable, measurable goals, you can know that every day is a new chance to try again!
I’m doing a lot of these lifestyle changes cold-turkey, but I’m not going to beat myself up if I end up missing a few days from the gym during a busy or tiring week. Why? Because I’m trying to make a LIFESTYLE – a long term, maintainable way of living. Hence why I still want to be able to enjoy my sweet hazelnut iced coffees on occasion; it’s just not realistic for me to say that I’ll never have sugary coffee again.
Regardless of how you want to go about getting back on track or creating goals, doing it in an organized manner will help you make smarter, more maintainable choices.