Five easy steps to make a positive change in your life

By Rachel Rowney on 4th Mar 2019

Personal Trainer Lynda Ratcliff suggest five easy ways you can make those changes to your lifestyle work – and stick…

How many times have you started a healthier lifestyle – tried dieting and exercising just to find yourself back to where you started, or worse yet, in worse condition?

Have you heard the phrase “Thoughts determine feelings determine actions”? As humans with emotions, we tend to let them control us, instead of us controlling our emotions. That, coupled with mindless action, is a recipe for disaster. There is extensive research that supports this. Psychologists and Psychotherapists agree that your thoughts control your behavior, but they pass through the human filter of emotions.

So, armed with the knowledge (because knowledge is power) that you can control your thoughts, which do control your feelings and subsequently your actions, you have the power to make positive change in your life.

Here’s the meat of the matter.
Figure out who in your life is supportive and encouraging. Let them know about your decision to start this journey. If you cannot think of anyone, go ahead and hire a health coach. A good health coach will guide you through this process while being supportive and encouraging. Even if you do have a good support network, you may still want to hire a health coach to help guide you.

Once you’ve done that the next step should be to journal for a few days. This is a great way to not just guess what you’re doing, but actually document it. You have to have a starting point.

So, journal for a few days; a few days during the week and both Saturday and Sunday typically to get a good baseline. Yes, it’s time consuming, but planning any trip is somewhat tedious on the front end but that makes the journey so much more enjoyable and productive.

Journal in 15-minute increments what makes you tick during those moments. If you’re eating breakfast at 7:30 then again at 10:00, why are you eating twice? Are you hungry, angry, what emotion is driving you? How do you feel after? Journal it.

Now you have a better idea of what you’re doing and why. From here, you take one to three things you’d like to change and focus on them. One diet-oriented change, one exercise-oriented change and one mindful thing to change. What do I mean?

An exercise-oriented change may be to walk five minutes after dinner, or if you’re already walking, it may be to do 10 squats every morning when you get up, or even start by stretching each morning. The point here is to make small sustainable changes that you can build from. Does this make sense? The snowball effect is one small change that rolls into another and another until you have a great big ball of successes that lead to a healthy lifestyle.

Another large part of this transformation is goal setting. Setting goals that are SMARTER – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-bound, then Evaluate, and Readjust.

There are product and process goals, long-term and short-term goals. For our purposes, we are going to focus on short-term, process goals. If you make a SMARTER, short-term, process goal, it might look like this: I’m going to walk in my neighborhood every night for five minutes after dinner for the next two weeks.

Another thing about setting goals is there should be a reward. Whether it’s a gold star on a chart or a new pair of socks for your two weeks of walking, again the reward should be specific to you.

Now let’s talk about one more thing when setting goals. There has got to be some flexibility. Life happens and just because you got an emergency call to help a friend and couldn’t walk one night doesn’t mean you’ve failed. It’s just one day. You put the past behind you, learn from it and move on.

Success is not doing everything right 100% of the time. Success comes for consistent steps in the right direction. You can be that person, but it starts in the mind. You’ve got to understand that your self-talk must be positive and encouraging and occasionally tough, but always compassionate.

About the author: Lynda Ratliff BA, ACE CPT, ACE Health Coach B.S., Sports Management, Florida Southern College. Certifications: American Council on Exercise (ACE), Certified Personal Trainer; ACE-Health Coach. Lynda specializes in: Strength training, HIIT training, functional movement, and lifestyle management. For more information or to contact Lynda:

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