By Sara Wood, ND, Mar 7 2017 05:40AM
Inertia (n) - The property of matter by which it continues in one state until changed by an outside force. The tendency to do nothing, or to remain unchanged.
Inertia is powerful: It’s what keeps our buts glued to the couch everynight, what continues to stock the pantry with chocolate bars and wine and what prevents us from getting out of bed a few minutes earlier in the morning to exercise. The good news is that inertia can work in our favor too. Believe it or not, once healthy habits are established and become part of a normal routine, there is a momentum gained and it become easier and easier to maintain the lifestyle you desire!
The struggle that most people have is finding the inspiration to initiate change. For some this is a milestone birthday, a number on the scale that they never thought they’d reach or a diagnosis they receive from their physician. When talking to patients who have successfully made substantial shifts in their lives, I have always been interested in hearing what that “final straw” was. As you might expect the answers are as varied as the individuals themselves.
Some important things to keep in mind when altering your lifestyle:
Small victories. Start with small steps and celebrate them. When you feel successful, you’ll be more likely to continue your new healthy ways. Too often people bite off more than they can chew and make big changes that aren’t sustainable. When they are unable to continue, they feel as though they’ve failed and revert back to old, familiar habits.
Create a community. Whether you recruit support from your friends and family members or a group of strangers online, having a support network of people who hold you accountable and are there to encourage you when you're struggling and to cheer you when you’re successful is key.
Shake it off. When you fall down, get up again. Treat everyday like a new day and don’t look back at a minor transgression in the past and let it drag you down.
You don’t need a fancy gym membership or personal chef to start making shifts in your health. Here are a few small things you can start with to get that momentum going!
Water intake. A good goal is half your body weight in oz. (meaning if you weigh 150 lbs, you should shoot for 75 oz of water/day). This does NOT include diuretics like coffee or alcohol, in fact you should replace whatever volume you drink in coffee PLUS your water goal. Many people find this daunting, but if you start with increasing your water by 5-10 oz/day, you’ll be at your goal before you know it! You can set reminders or timers for yourself and drink incrementally throughout the day, organize a company or family water drinking contest to motivate you, or my personal favorite, motivate yourself with a new fancy water bottle that’s just too shiny not to notice!
Move your body. Sitting is one of the worst things we can do for our bodies. Get up and move around. Often. We’ve probably all been told to take the stairs or park far away to increase your steps, but you can also incorporate some muscle building exercises into your routine. Take a 5 minute break every 2 hours and do bodyweight squats. This will build your core muscles, create more stability for your body and boost your metabolism.
Cut out the sugar. Seriously, just stop. If you drink soda or eat candy, then start there. If you don’t eat “sweets” but subsist on bread and pasta, switch that out for more veggies and meat, or at least whole grains. Pick one meal/day and change your habits, then work on the next meal until you’ve re-trained yourself to eat better throughout the entire day.
Stop and breath. Movement is important, but so is down time. Our nervous system wasn’t designed to be constantly stimulated in the way that it is in our current society. Take 15 minutes of your day to sit quietly and focus on your breath. This can be all at once, or several 5 minute increments throughout the day.
Journal. You don’t have to write a complete “Dear Diary” entry every day, but having some record of where you were, can help you see how far you have come! Tracking your workouts, the weight you can lift, the way your body feels, how well you are sleeping etc can really help you see the differences as you improve. It’s difficult to see the small changes that happen day to day, but when you can go back and read a record from weeks or months ago, the improvements are hard to deny!