Better U Challenge - Learning to be Successful
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photo by W Brian Duncan

A fitness journey often starts with three things:

  • Detailed questions  (How many grams of fat is okay?).
  • Excitement/fear of the unknown (What are we going to do in the first session?)
  • Unbridled enthusiasm (I am so pumped!)

My Better U team is no different. Our assessment appointments had some nerves, tears and shy giggles. Emails and Facebook messages have been coming in with questions like:

Is this granola bar a good choice?

Should I have smoothies?

How do I say no to chocolate cravings during that time of the month?

What else can I do??

I love talking about what I do and answering questions. The problem is too much information can be overwhelming in the beginning. I make a very concerted effort to share information and give homework assignments in small doses.

This can be frustrating but I do this for a reason.

We like to think we are good at multi tasking. Research into habit change says otherwise. As I told the group at our very first team meeting:

If we focus on one thing our rate of success is about 85%. If we add another, we drop to about 35%. Add a third and now it’s 10% or less.

Better U is a health makeover not a weight loss transformation contest. I want to set them up for success, give them a foundation for which to build a healthy life upon. So, to start, each of them only has 1-2 pieces of homework. They include things like:

  • Drink only one 12 oz soda a week. (Goal: Reduce liquid calorie/sugar intake.)
  • Walk 5 minutes a day. (Goal: Build an activity habit.)
  • Do a plank a day. (Goal: Build an activity habit.)
  • Keep a food journal. (Goal: What does 1600 calories a day of food really look like?)
  • Keep sweets to every other day. (Goal: Reducing sugar consumption.)

Each of these items may seem small but, as you can see, there is logic behind each assignment. Each one is also small and manageable. If it’s not, I scale it back till it is. It needs to be so doable that when they leave they have no doubt in their mind they can do it. To be successful you need to know what it feels like to be successful. These small goals plant the seeds of bigger successes.

This is one of the reasons I say diets don’t work. Fad diets focus on short term gains (or I guess losses) without care for long term health and happiness. I want something more positive for my Better U team and for YOU. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither is a healthy life. Build it brick by brick, habit by habit.

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