If there’s one “fitness” cliche that I’ve always tried to avoid, it’s the phrase “change your lifestyle.” I mean, it’s not one that elicits full on eye-rolling from me, but, upon hearing, it does make me peer off into the distance and wonder when the conversation will be over. Not because it’s “not true,” and not because it’s “preachy,” but because people often say “change your lifestyle” and pair it with a shoulder shrug, as if to say “I don’t really know how you can do it, but you’ve got to do it anyway!”
Thanks, buddy. How… helpful.
There’s also the people who ask me “how did you do it?” and, when I go to reply and give them a short but specific answer, they usually cut me off and say “you changed your lifestyle, huh?” How are you gonna trade a specific answer for a vague one? The hell?
If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years, it’s the fact that consistency is vital. The primary reason why people don’t experience success with their efforts isn’t “eating habits” or “they don’t work our enough.” It’s the lack of consistency. Mind you, when I say “efforts,” I’m not referring to simply “losing the weight.” I’m referring to “keeping it off,” too. That’s where “change your lifestyle” comes in.
What a lot of us fail to admit, is that the way we live now not only allows us to maintain the weight we have now, but can also encourage weight gain if we’re not careful. That’s true for a size 6 just like it’s true for a size 36. It’s true for those who want to lose weight just like it’s true for those who want to maintain weight, and even those who want to gain, even if only for a temporary amount of time. The way you live affects the way your body manages your weight.
If the way you live is conducive to weight gain, and you don’t want to gain, then you have to change the way you live. If that means less processed food and more veggies, then go with that. If that means less “protein bars,” then go with that. If that means less soda, then go with that. However, whatever it is you’re giving up, you have to remain consistent with it. You can’t simply change how you live until you lose the weight, then go back to what you were doing before. The lifestyle you lead now is the one conducive to your current weight. Going back and adding in what you’ve cut out results in you taking on your former lifestyle that allowed you to gain the weight from before.
Making something – like better eating habits – a part of your lifestyle is a foolproof way of guaranteeing your consistency. That’s the only way to ensure your success. If you’re vowing to eat well every day, no slip ups, then you need to make that a part of your every day life. If you’re going to run four times a week, then make that a part of how you live. Don’t just do it for the weight effects and then stop once you’re “there.”
This is why dieting – and most diet books – are so ridiculous to me. Yeah, let me do something radical and unique (and only found in this book!) to “kick-start” my weight loss, then go and do all those lifestyle change-y things everyone talks about. Trust me – if you skip the radical nonsense and went straight to the lifestyle change-y things, you’d lose weight just fine without jeopardizing your health or sanity. (There’s nothing worse than depriving yourself, and then crashing and burning because you couldn’t fight it.)
I don’t think consistency ever becomes easy, because life is constantly ever-changing. It’s not a matter of beating yourself up because you “can’t get it together,” it’s a matter of assessing the days when you fell short and learning from them. Think about how you got so backed up that you couldn’t take time out for yourself, and how you can prevent that from happening again. Don’t use the fact that you fell off one day as an excuse to give up. Changing how you live is hard. It takes time. I struggle with it, myself – not at the same level at which I struggled in the beginning, but my struggles are different now. The goal is not “perfection;” the goal, here, is “excellence.”
The reason people always say “change your lifestyle” without telling you “how” is because, quite frankly, everyone’s answers are (and will be… and should be) different. Everyone’s lives are different, so of course their answers would be. Some people need to cut the pop. Some people need to cook more often. Some people need to stop the incessant snacking (and others need to change what they’re snacking on.) Some people need to be more active. Others are plenty active, but simply need to stop binging on certain stuff after an active period. Everyone who has successfully lost weight has had to change how they live in one form or another, and everyone’s answers won’t be the same.
In the end, it’s really not about “the lifestyle” at all. It’s much more about the consistency that comes with making it a part of how you live. It’s about the fact that every day that you wake up, you carry it with you. Every day that you leave your home, you carry it with you. Every day that you set down at a table before a meal, you carry it with you. Consistently. Once it’s really and truly a part of you, you’ll joyfully experience the results of your… wait for it… “lifestyle change!” Ha!