It's Monday. Like most of you, I start the week with a set of goals in mind to be completed by Sunday evening. In many cases, Monday has been the day in which I started a diet. Having my "last supper" of a cheat meal on Sunday evening, doing the healthy grocery shopping for the week, etc. It's been a routine I have pulled my fair share of times.
The amount of times I have started a new week thinking I would start a success diet: MANY
The amount of times I have successfully stuck the diet: NOT MANY
I am a what you would call an optimistic person. Every time I choose to start a new diet, hobby, routine, anything at all...I go into it thinking that it will be a successful endeavor. More times than not, this leads me to overestimating my capabilities from the beginning, especially when it comes to diets.
Looking over my most successful stretches of dieting, there is one thing that really determined whether they were successful or not. GRADUAL CHANGE. Now gradual change may not provide you with the most astounding of results within the first portion of the diet, but is more certainly a more manageable approach.
Why Gradual Change Works
Making small changes over the course of a long time frame usually is constituted by making small decisions. 1/2 serving less of rice, 5 minutes more on the treadmill, or even a bite less of your dessert is considered a small change. However, just because the decisions may be deemed as small, does not mean they should be treated without a sense of priority.
Gradual change can best be exemplified by the act of saving money. Whether it be collecting loose pocket change in a jar for a nice dinner this month or $20 a week put aside for a dream vacation, the example remains the same. Whenever you take money out of your savings, you lose progress toward your overall goal. That 1/2 extra of rice, that second helping of food, that extra large scoop of peanut butter is a going to effect your progress down the road. The moment you start to see your small contributions to your progress as optional is the moment your progress is no longer a top priority.
Realistic vs. Optimistic
In conclusion, the next time you choose to take on a task that is going to require a fair amount of willpower for an extended time, think realistically. Ask yourself, "Is it realistic that I will go from eating nothing but fast food to preparing unprocessed homemade meals for myself?" or ""Is it realistic that I can stick to my diet at a family function without having to plan ahead?"
Taking a moment out of your day just to access how realistic your approach to a new goal is may set off a lightbulb as to what is a plausible and implausible route to take. Slowly introducing and adapting a small change every week is a sustainable way to reach your goals.