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How to lose the ‘too hard basket’

Why is it that we feel frustrated and confused by what we should, could or must do when we want to get healthier? We all inherently know the core foundations to improve health – move more, eat better, get quality sleep, reduce stress. 

However, the reality is that the journey to better health requires change and change is hard work. Deep down we're looking for ways to achieve immediate results with minimal effort. But to create the right change, a long-term consistent commitment and the right mindset is everything.

As I see it, we're going in too big, too hard, too soon. I hear things like – “I'm hitting the gym every day and going on a diet” or “I'm going to stop drinking for a year”, or “I'm cutting out carbs”. But long term this will end up in the too hard basket, I can guarantee it. If the bar is set too high, we set ourselves up for failure. This is compounded by guilt as you presume you're failing each time you ‘don't stick to it'.

Turn your big goal into many small goals that get you there over time. You're far more likely to succeed this way.

Here's an example: Goal: get fitter, lose 10kg. Plan: Go to gym five times a week, eat salads. Instead, think of the goal as: get fitter, fit into clothes that are too small at the moment. Plan: do something today that gets me started.

Week 1. Fit in one 10-minute walk for the week. Week 2. Increase the walk to 15 minutes and do it twice a week. Week 3. Now you're walking for 20 minutes, three times a week. Add some hills. Week 4: Add another 25-minute walk or increase the intensity by walking faster, finding steeper hills, or wear a backpack with additional load. And so on. Doing this with a walking buddy adds accountability and a social aspect.

The aim is to keep it small, keep it simple and build on it holistically. Not only will your body have time to adapt but you will make the goals achievable.

One other important factor is to have a support network. This might be a friend, partner, or your chosen pit crew of health professionals. 

Here are some things to reflect on as you plan your journey: Are you ready for change? • Are you ready to commit to what's needed to create that change? • What are your reasons for wanting change? • Make your plan. • Set your goals week by week. • Focus on what's working and don't dwell on what isn't. • Be kind to yourself and trust that you will succeed and each day gets you closer. • Enjoy the journey, it's not a sprint!