Know what you want. It's time to move from unconscious choices to deliberate action. First, you must have a vision of the new you. Let yourself dream. Create a vision board with pasted images and words that represent what you most want to be, do and have: magazine cut-outs of a runner on the beach, phrases such as, "I'm the happiest I've ever been," a picture of the outfit you will someday wear. Display the poster where you will see it often. Imagine yourself having achieved all of this. Feel what it will be like to have the life you imagine. Be that person in your mind, now.
Define the next step. Grab your journal. Goal-setting need not be overwhelming. You are not going to know automatically every single detail of your health journey. All you have to do is define the next step. You know where you want to go (your vision); what one thing can you can do to move closer to it? Listen to your intuition; listen to your body. You have all the information you need. What one small thing can you change starting today? Write: "Step 1: _________" then check it off after one week of successful implementation. Then move on to "Step 2:_______." As often as possible, journal about how your new habits make you feel, inside and out.
Grab a partner. Accountability is a strong motivator. When you have someone counting on you to follow through, you are more likely to do what you say you will. Find a fellow traveler who is willing to support you. A quick email at the end of the day stating you've done what you committed to is all you need. An equally quick response, "Great job!" or "What happened? I didn't hear from you," is enough to keep you going in the right direction. Best-case scenario: your buddy is available to work out with you in real-time. Either way, proclaim your goal, share what small step you are working on to get there, then hold yourself accountable.
Progress, not perfection. Sorry to break it to you, but you will fall off the wagon. These slips are not license to beat yourself up. Perfection is impossible. In order to take care of yourself, you must love yourself. This means forgiveness after the doughnut (or three), or the week of missed workouts. We all have moments of self-doubt and temptation. You're breaking unhealthy habits, remember? This is not the time to throw in the proverbial towel. Shake off yesterday and get ready to continue your progress today. Two steps forward and one step back is still improvement. Be gentle on yourself.
Train yourself. Focus on the positive to make the process fun. Rather than remembering the soreness you feel after your workout, delight in the endorphin boost. After a healthy salad, savor the energy and lightness you feel. When you slip and eat too many cookies, notice how your body reacts when you do. Soon you will crave the healthy feelings, and choose accordingly. Treat yourself after workouts and especially when you start checking off your goals. Enjoy non-food based rewards: a bubble bath, a walk with a friend, reading in the hammock, a movie out with a loved one. Indulge in self-care and you'll keep progressing despite any challenges that arise.
Get excited for the positive changes on the horizon! Feel the spark and continue acting upon it. The life you dream of is absolutely within your reach. While the path to health isn't an easy one to begin, it is definitely worth it, and so are you.race.