Great musicians, athletes and artists didn't start that way.
They were normal people like the rest of us, but they honed in on a goal, practiced their craft consistently and improved.
We've all heard the saying "Practice makes perfect."
I'm not here to tell you about perfection. I'm here to tell you about progress.
Specifically, setting goals and getting closer to reaching them through taking small, consistent, progressive steps.
Just like you, WE ALL struggle with something. You're not alone
Maybe you're a pro at low carb meal-planning and need no help with that... BUT you forget to pre-bolus your insulin or log your foods.
Maybe you consistently remember to pre-bolus....BUT you don't always eat the types and amounts of food that you should.
Maybe food choices are no problem at all... BUT you're having a hard time fitting exercise into your daily routine.
First of all, celebrate your successes.
You are amazing and you have come so far already.
Please try not to let those things that you need to work on get you down. There's always SOMETHING to work on. That's what makes us human.
The key component is that you want to improve and problem solve and reach for more.
So How do you make a permanent change in your life?
For most of us, it pays to start small. Smaller than you think is even useful. You need to trick your brain into believing that this new goal is achievable.
(*This is crucial for people with retinopathy. Please read the note at the bottom of this post.)
Maybe you need focus more on your food intake. When setting goals, many of us would say something like this:
"I'm going to eat better this year, and lose weight,
and I'm going to prep all my foods on Sunday night,
and pack my meals for the week, and stop eating dairy,
and stop picking up a fast-food dinner on my way home from work, and ...."
First of all, the initial "I'm going to eat better this year and lose weight" is vague. What does that even mean?
Are you going work every day to hit your ideal macros of 100g protein/25g carbs and 60g fat??
Are you going to reduce and/or control snacking between meals?
Are you going to lose 20 lbs this year? Or 20 lbs in the next 4 months?
The rest of the statement above is just TOO much. Give yourself some grace when you inevitably are overwhelmed and can't make all those various changes all a one time.
Break it down and make it specific.
If you re-visited that vague, pie-in-the-sky goal of "I'm going to eat better this year and lose weight" - and were to break it down, you might decide on,
"I'm going to lose 20 lbs in the next 6 months." - and then choose the exact date, 6 months from now.
It's specific and with a deadline. Now break it down and start small.
Forget about tomorrow or next week or the next 6 months. Start with one day.
How about this as the first step:
"Today I'm going to bring a low carb lunch to work that fits my lunchtime macros. "
Then afterward, evaluate how it went. Maybe it's something like this:
"I really liked how easy it was to have my lunch with me. I didn't waste time going to buy it (plus I saved the $10 it usually costs) and I was able to spend 15 minutes of my lunch break reading outside in the sunshine. That really worked well for me. I'm going to bring my lunch to work again tomorrow."
This is perfect because it also incorporates rewards (cost saving and free time). The key is to build on your successes until you have consistency.
If bringing your lunch DIDN'T work for you, then you need to evaluate why:
"I was too rushed in the morning and didn't pay attention to serving sizes so I didn't pack enough and was hungry by 3 PM. Then I was tempted to grab a snack. I'll make sure that I have enough protein next time to keep me full "
"I didn't have many groceries at home to pack for lunch so I spent too much time trying to figure out what to pack and was almost late to work (or getting the kids to school). I'll plan this and pack my food the night before."
TIP: You can even pack your food for the next day as you're putting away any leftovers from dinner. Grab a small container, measure out your portion sizes and store in the refrigerator until morning. No sense in using one large container for leftovers when you can do a 5-minute meal-prep for the week's lunches!
Maybe food isn't an issue for you but you need to exercise more. Set yourself up for success by starting small and consistently.
"I'm going to spend 10 minutes every day playing with the dog in the backyard when I get home from work." Then after a week of this, take the dog for a 10-minute walk around the block at the same time in the afternoon. Then build up to a 20 minute walk and keep building on your successes.
"I'm going to sign up for that exercise class that meets once per week at my community center." Then after 6 weeks, you can sign up for one that meets 2x per week or join a more challenging class, or hire that personal trainer.
DON'T go for the dramatic life-altering change that will require multiple behavioral modifications at one time. Think small, incremental steps so your brain doesn't go into overload and fall back into it's comfort zone.
You'll get there but you have to start small.
Yes, I know that this goes against much of the "cold turkey" advice, especially that of jumping right into low carb eating. If that dramatic jump-right-in approach works for you, great. If not, start small.
Most of us tried a low carb meal first, then saw the successful blood sugar levels as a result, then tried another, and progressively worked towards low carb eating all the time. Success breeds success.
Right now, I have an exercise for each of you.
1.) Set a specific goal (what it is & a realistic timeframe to achieve it). Write it down and put it in a place where you will see it every day.
2.) Create one small, specific step to get you closer to that goal
3.) Practice that one small, specific step every day for 2 weeks
4.) Evaluate that that one small step and tweak it if necessary like the examples above. This evaluation does not mean changing that step, but modifying how you implement that step so it works consistently for you.
5.) After 2 weeks, build off of your successes and make that one small step BIGGER or more intense, all with your goal from #1 in mind.
I would love to learn how you are implementing this in your life. Please leave a comment below and tell us all about your goal and the specific step to will be taking to get you closer to that goal!
You can do it and we'll all be here to cheer you on!
*Warning For people with retinopathy:
This SLOW and small rate of improvement is most important for ANYONE with retinopathy.
Start small. Go slow.
Retinopathy can get substantially WORSE with rapid blood sugar improvement. The good news is that retinopathy can get substantially better if you make a slow and consistent improvement in your blood sugar levels and A1c. Please read here for more information about retinopathy and the dangers of fast, dramatic blood sugar/A1c reduction