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Mindset is the key to getting healthier in 2021

Getting healthier and losing weight is like saving for the future and there are a lot of parallels. I want to revisit this in the context of losing weight in 2021.

Unless you are rich, you need the money you earn to pay your bills, keep a roof over your head and to do the things you want to do. For most people, money is a limiting factor in doing everything they want to so there is a prioritisation process going on. You also want to save for a rainy day or for something specific. It can be much easier to save for something specific than a rainy day because the outcome can feel more salient, more real to you. If it is something you really want, then motivation increases and it is easier to prioritise saving over spending on a whim. 

Eating well and being active can be like saving. Whilst both can be enjoyable, many people approach them as depriving themselves of the joy of sitting down and eating rubbish now, so that once all this goodness kicks in, you get the body of your dreams and feel healthier than a 20 year old you (or a bit slimmer and able to run for the bus without sweating all day!).  

But there is often a difference in how we prioritise, and it is because there is a difference in consequences. With your health, if you have a bad day and binge… both food-wise and binge-watching shows when you said you would be active and get stuff done, you may end up at the what the hell effect, with your whole plan to get healthy going out of the window, or you may get back on the horse. If you have a bad day and spend that months rent in a spending spree, it is more difficult to recover from. The consequences are more immediate and felt more acutely. 

So is the solution to our health plans similar to our financial plans? Yes! What do you do to make sure you don’t end up in the position where you have blown the rent or mortgage payment and missed all your bills? You set your payment dates to just after you get paid. Or maybe you have other ways of dealing with that. But because the consequences are serious and immediate, you make plans to seriously limit your ability for a bad day or a spending spree to mess this up. 

The answer for your health is the same, we just call it ‘the habit before the Habit’. Making changes to your physical or social environment that eliminates or severely limits future choices you can make ‘in the moment’ that ruin your plans. So what can you do right now that is the equivalent of moving your payment dates to after you get paid? 

There are endless ways to do this, but they have to be based around your real life. You need to think about the people around you and how to structure your life so that you trip over, sometimes quite literally, your goals. Put them in your way.  

Making a plan to start running? You might do something right now that improves chances of success: 

  • Know what to do – immediately download ‘Couch to 5K 
  • Make it fun – choose your favourite narrator  
  • Build commitment and accountability – text a friend to agree a time you will both do this together, or at least hold eachother to account 
  • Plan – be clear about when running works for you and book it into your diary like any other meeting or event that is important enough to remember 
  • Make it possible – You need some (but not loads – don’t let this be a barrier!) gear. Treat yourself to a fancy bit of kit and some decent trainers. 
  • Create triggers – Put the trainers in your way so they act as a trigger at the right moment and make getting going easy. 

 This is a really simple set of things you could do to maximise the chance of running. This is thinking ahead and taking steps to limit future choices and eliminate future barriers. But it doesn’t mean it will work straight away! 

 Switch your mindset 

 Having a growth mindset means that you don’t expect all this stuff to work first time. If you know that going in, it can lessen the chance of reaching the what the hell effect and giving up. All the good and useful information is in the failure points. What didn’t work and what could you do differently next time to improve your chances of success. This isn’t rocket science. It is accepting that it would be very surprising to write a plan that immediately worked with no hiccups, and committing to investing in the failures as a great way to better understand your real life. 

 Give it a go. And if you want help, get in touch. My book, the Habit before the Habit, will be out next summer, but until then we are looking for willing participants to trial a new experiment getting fitter and healthier in 2021. If you are keen let us know at…….. 

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