Does September feels like a reset month or a time for reflection for you?
Honestly, I have no idea whether reset September is “a thing” but September really does feel like a time to reflect to me. Perhaps has to do with the change in weather and nature, getting kids back to school, Christmas stock starting to appear in the shops or even whether it lingers from childhood when September bought about a time for back to school and a fresh start. I really do not know!
But, whatever the reason, if you feel the urge to make some positive steps towards your health then it is a great idea to embrace that and reset September is as good a time as any!
When I say “embrace”, I am talking about using that willpower and motivation to move you forward. I am most definitely not talking about going on an extreme faddy diet, almost killing yourself in the gym or cutting out major food groups.
In this blog I share with you my 6 top tips to helping you make positive changes to your health. Here are the tips with more details for each in the sections below. Good luck in using these for reset September!
- Set a realistic target
- Plan ahead
- Start small
- Give yourself a reward or incentive
- Keep yourself accountable
- Do not let one day stop you
Each one of these steps really is something important to remember
#1: SET A REALISTIC TARGET
This is a great place to start. A goal should always be achievable and ideally not be based on a number on the scales. You might be a little (or a lot) overweight…but saying to yourself that you are going to lose ## kilograms by Christmas is madness, demotivating and potentially harmful. Your weight might be stubborn to shift, you might have social engagements that will make a strict diet impossible to follow or you might be emotional eating for good reason. Having weight loss as your target is not the way forward with health. You do also have to evaluate how much effort you are willing and able to put in to making change. If you can put in a lot of effort then things in your health might change more significantly, but if you can only make small changes (and that is perfectly okay!) you cannot expect to make such significant progress. So keep it realistic and also achievable.
An achievable target might look like this:
- “Go to the gym twice a week for the next 2 months”
- “Do some walking every day this month”
- “Fast for 12 hours overnight every night”
- “Eat 5 different vegetables every day for the next 6 weeks”
#2 PLAN AHEAD
Wanting to make change and changing are two very different things. Life often gets in the way, work demands can derail things, you could get a cold or suddenly must look after someone else or finances change etc. We cannot possibly hope to plan for every occasion but doing some planning really might help. The planning can be in terms of meal planning or it can be looking at the things that might derail you and planning around those.
To give an example, you might have the goal to stop snacking but you often meet a friend in a coffee shop for a drink and a cake. It would be unrealistic and frankly unacceptable to not meet the friend so you could plan your day around it. There are always better options:
- Ask to meet the friend for a walk instead of meeting at the café
- Time the meet around a meal time and have a brunch or meal instead of the cake
- Just have the drink and say no to the cake (the hardest option in my opinion!)
#3 START SMALL
Very much in keeping with being realistic it is good to start small. If you are hoping to increase fitness then starting with going consistently once a week, then upping to twice a week after the first few weeks is a much better plan than to say you need to go 6 times a week for 2-hour sessions and then fail within the first week. Not only does keeping it small mean that you are more likely to succeed, it also allows your body to adjust to the new plan in a gentle way. This is especially important when it comes to things like increasing fruits and vegetables or reducing portions. I’ve seen so many clients drop portions and then feel super hungry and give in, or want to increase fibre and go from very little to a lot and then have chronic bloating. Your body needs time to adjust so starting small but with consistency can work well.
#4 REWARDS AND INCENTIVES
Being incentivised or rewarded for making positive steps towards health is a very good thing to do. Building in ways of making ourselves feel good is essential for several reasons:
- It helps to encourage us to keep going with the changes even when things feel a bit tough
- It is a great way to build in more appropriate ways of making ourselves feel better eg. better to sit in the garden for 5 minutes listening to nature, than reaching for a packet of biscuits.
- It helps to replace habits that do not serve us with ones that make us feel great. Making change more achievable in the long term
The main rule with rewards and incentives is that they cannot be food or drink related. By this I mean that you should not have a slab of chocolate for going to the gym or a bottle of wine for not snacking etc. Not only do these things go against a move to health but they also reinforce this theory of good and bad foods. Foods should not have emotion attached to them – no one food is terrible and must be avoided forever. We need to permanently move away from rewarding emotions with food. Instead buy yourself a new book, a bunch of flowers, Facetime a friend or spend time in nature.
#5 KEEP YOURSELF ACCOUNTABLE
One of the main reasons that weight loss groups work for people is the accountability. My thoughts generally on weight loss groups is a discussion for another day but the accountability aspect is something good!
When you set your intention and you let others know about it, you are more likely to achieve. Being “observed” does help encourage us to succeed, it might also help to focus us and stop unproductive or distracting behaviours. It also creates a deadline which we often find helpful.
Family and friends are wonderful to help with accountability but they might not always be the best or you might prefer not to share things with them. Other ways of keeping accountable are with personal diaries, counsellors or you could use my free Facebook group where I put a post every Monday to help with accountability
#6 DON’T LET ONE DAY STOP YOU
I am always talking about “progress and not perfection”. We are not robots and life does sometimes throw us curve balls. I do not believe it is possible to be perfect and certainly not perfect all the time. What makes a difference is how we respond to those little setbacks.
I once had a client email me and said “I’ve fallen off the wagon, dragged it into the woods and set fire to it – please help me!”
She was amazing for reaching out and getting help but she had left it a long time and it was harder for her to refocus and she felt she was starting all over again. If you are following your plan well but you end up having a take away, a bar of chocolate, an indulgent weekend or holiday then remember this. You have not completely undone all the work you had been doing. You possibly had 1 or 2 bad days (or more) out of 14 and that is okay. Just pick yourself up, dust yourself off and get back to your plan as quickly as possible. You do not have to give up, you did not fail…it really was just a blip!
So there you have it. My 6 tips for helping you with reset September or simply just helping with a refocus on your health. None of this is strict, none of this stops you living your best life and all of it is achievable. You are just setting yourself up for success rather than beating yourself up
Please just take that first step and keep taking them one at a time after