I remember how it felt. Staring up that steep mountain face; a seemingly impossible journey ahead. Weighing 269 lbs., wanting, no needing to lose 80+lbs. I needed to stop eating all of that junk food. I needed to stop being so lazy and laying around after work. I needed to start exercising regularly. But how was I supposed to stop doing those things I needed to stop? Those were all habits after all! And start new habits??? How???
Once I got past the sheer terror of the size of the challenges ahead I calmed down and stepped back and thought about past successes I had with stopping bad habits and forming new, positive ones. For example, from the age of 16 to 29 I smoked like a chimney, nearly two packs each day when I quit. I also had no off switch with alcohol. Once I started drinking, I didn’t want to stop. Yet I was successful in quitting both of those bad habits on the same day back in 1998. I haven’t used either one since that day and I don’t do either one today. Thinking about my past successes helped get me in the right frame of mind. But I needed more. I needed a plan.
Creating A Plan
I researched a variety of running plans for new runners. The Couch to 5K (c25k.com) approach resonated with me and I decided I would try it. Walk a little, run (slowly) a little, repeat, etc. Although the Couch to 5K walk/run cycle proved to be too extreme for me at first (I was really out of shape!) it was a plan nonetheless. A great friend of mine also recommended that I put a race on the calendar, something to train for, a “line in the sand”. I registered that night for a 3K at our local zoo. Little did I know at the time what a turning point in my life that day was.
Run tat here
I also kept careful track of my runs (OK walk/runs). I was super diligent about logging distance and time and keeping track of it over time. There are a variety of options out there but I used Garmin Connect to keep track of my workouts. I allowed me to sync my run data easily from my Garmin GPS watch to the Garmin Connect app. Other options include mapmyrun.com, runtastic.com, mapmyrun.com amongst many others.
As far as food was concerned, I knew I had a problem limiting things that I liked (remember smoking and alcohol above??). So I decided that I would carefully track every calorie I put into my mouth. I used myfitnesspal.com for this.
Tracking this information served two purposes. First, tracking and logging everything I ate was a welcome and relevant distraction. Second, and more importantly, it got me focused on what I was eating and caused me to make some really thoughtful decisions about food. I began swapping out fatty cuts of meat for leaner varieties, I found myself eating more veggies and fruit simply because the calories to volume of food ratio was favorable.
A Positive Snowball – snowball here
Both of these routines of tracking and logging enabled me to create and benefit from what I’ve come to call a “Positive Snowball”. Just like a snowball rolling down a mountain picks up pace and momentum, so did I with my new habits. The more I ran and the more I focused on logging my food the more I was excited to see small, incremental wins. Those small incremental wins encouraged me (like a reward) to run more and continue to eat better…..it was a positive snowball!
In a matter of 3-4 weeks this was my “new normal”. Going out for a run had become something I looked forward to instead of something I dreaded. Eating healthier options and a smaller volume of food became easier too. This positive snowball was the ongoing energy I needed to continue to make progress.
Create Your Positive Snowball
- Think about past successes you’ve had changing habits – let that serve as motivation for you.
- Create a plan. This is your roadmap for where you want to get to. Follow it religiously.
- Track your incremental successes and wins daily. You won’t have them everyday but you will have them. Use these wins to motivate you and propel you forward.
Changing habits is not easy. But with the right attitude, a plan, and recognizing your incremental wins you will create your positive snowball and you will make progress toward your goals. Get out there and get it….I know you can! Comment below and let us know what’s worked for you.