Create a Customized Plan:Taking Better Care of Your Body

Do you have a goal for your body? Last week I asked you to look at your body in a different way. Instead of being critical you were asked to identify what you liked about your body. I encouraged you to use the technique of reframing. In a past column you learned that reframing was an important life skill because it encouraged you to look at things differently. Instead of thinking, “I’m huge” or “I’m fat”, tell yourself that you are voluptuous, soft or curvaceous. This mindset promotes self-love, which promotes self-care. You are more likely to change if you like yourself.

Now that you have the proper mindset, let’s get down to business. What changes would you like to make to obtain a healthier body? Write down one or two specific things about your body that you would like to accomplish:

Be realistic. I see so many clients who want to “weigh the same weight” that they were when they got married 20 years ago. I discourage clients from picking a weight. Instead, I ask them to focus on something other than a number.
Think differently. Use a different word to describe your goal. Do you want to be more fit, more muscular, healthier, smaller?

Create a plan that supports the goal. Clients are more successful when they think about their goals in small increments. “I will lose one- to two pounds this week” or “I would like to fit into my size 14 jeans (instead of the 16’s) within a 21-day period.” This type of goal can typically be accomplished in a shorter amount of time. It reinforces the positive behavioral changes, making it more likely that you will stick to your goals.

Omit one unhealthy behavior and then ‘do it until you have it down’. Do it repeatedly until you no longer need to think about it and it becomes automatic. For many of my clients, this means they stop eating after 6 or 7 o’clock or they stay away from the vending machines at work.

Replace old behaviors with new ones. Focus on creating healthy behaviors so you don’t experience a sense of depravation. You will lose weight if you:
-drink eight- to ten glasses of water
-walk for 20 minutes daily
-stop eating after 7 o’clock in the evening
-eat more vegetables
-gain more muscle
-develop a new hobby that takes up “grazing time”.
It is important to focus on a healthy behavior to get you to your goal. When you pick the behavior you pick the consequences. That translates into:
-“When I choose to walk 20 minutes per day I speed up my metabolism.”
-“When I choose to write down what I eat, I eat less calories.”

At the end of each day or week write down your successes. Accomplishing a goal requires that you take notice of your accomplishments.

The guidelines you have just read are life strategies. Creating a strategy that works for you is thought-provoking and exciting. You will need to integrate them into your daily routine to maintain a healthy lifestyle. As you put together your very own, customized plan, remember to pick behaviors that you can practice not just for today, but for the rest of your life.

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