When I started to learn how to drive, I thought I would never succeed. There was so much to learn and to do – all at the same time. I failed my first driving test and wondered if it was worth trying again.
However things changed. I was lucky enough to have a family that supported me by paying for a qualified driving instructor. This wonderful man with nerves of steel showed me what to do in a calm and controlled manner.
It was much better than the frenzied times when my frightened and freaked out family tried to guide me through busy traffic. It was a miracle that we survived relatively unscathed mentally and physically...
The next driving test I was fully prepared, having been shown by example how to be a calm and confident driver - and I passed.
So I have found from this and other experiences that when I try doing something in a chaotic and unprepared manner, I fail. However careful preparation right at the beginning can set us up for success.
So rule number one is prepare. In health programmes and detoxes this can mean hiding undesirable food at the back of the fridge or cupboard- or better still giving it away- and shopping for healthy food. Plus if before shopping, we write out a shopping list- and stick to it, the only food are available is food in the house supports us in our healthy lifestyle change.
Taking a snack such as fruit and nuts when we are out for the day or even a packed lunch helps us avoid the temptation of buying unhealthy food – and saves money.
Writing up specific and measurable goals and a time in which they are to be reached e.g. 'I will lose 0.5 kilograms a week'- help us clarify what we are aiming to do. Chunking down what seems like an unsurmountable task helps. Making small, easier changes motivates and encourages us.
Rule number three is to get the help and support we need. In weight loss, having a friend who is also on a weight loss programme helps keep everyone more accountable.
Sometimes it is helpful to have a professional health practitioner's advice and encouragement whether it's a doctor, a naturopath, a nutritionist or the local gym owner.
By noticing what we do each day, we keep mindful of what we are actually eating and how much we are exercising- and how well we are sticking to our map for change. So a food and lifestyle diary can be very motivating.
Also sitting down for food and avoiding eating on the run or in front of a screen e.g. television or phone, allows us to eat mindfully. Taking a few deep breaths before start a meal- and then eating slowly and chewing well, relaxes us and gives our bodies the best chance to digest our food. It also gives us time to realise when we are full- which can take up to 20 minutes after finishing a meal.
Minimising or even stopping alcohol when we are first changing our lives helps. This means we remain in control, gives our bodies time to heal- and fewer empty calories to process.
Practising polite ways to refuse food such as ' That looks lovely but I've just eaten' means we are empowered to choose what we want to eat- and not feel forced to follow other people's choices.
Perhaps the most important thing we can do is to persist. We can make a list of the benefits of our changes such as increased energy, being able to play with our children, run for the bus or just feel better. Then, if we put this list somewhere where we will see it, it can help us carry on when things get tough.
Life may occasionally trip us up but, if we dust ourselves down and bounce back up, we will be unstoppable.
'A winner is a dreamer who never gives up.' Nelson Mandela
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