If you are in the process of starting a health and fitness journey, this blog is for you.
I was answering questions on Instagram recently, and I came across this one which says,
“I want to get my health together. I’ve tried and tried to clean up my nutrition and start an exercise routine, but I always fall off the wagon. Can you help?”
First of all, such a relatable question.
I’m sure we’ve all been at a point with our lives where we’re feeling a little frustrated. Maybe we’re feeling a little puffy, and not super great about our health. Yet, we want to take action.
And second of all, yes, I can absolutely help.
Prefer to learn on video? Watch here:
My name is Dr. Karin Nordine and I have a PhD focused on behavior change. I started Body Brain Alliance, as a way to bring the science I learned, the stuff that’s really working for people, to bring it to the masses and to people like you.
I’m not just an expert. I’ve also been where you are. Six or seven years ago, I was in grad school. I had never set foot in the gym. I didn’t understand basic nutrition, and I was just feeling really, really rough about my current body fitness and health in general.
This blog is going to be three pieces of advice I would give to myself now six years into a health and fitness journey later.
Having gained a ton of muscle, totally changing my habits and learning the science of behavior change…
This is what I would tell myself, and this is the advice I’m going to give you too.
Tip #1: Start Small and Focus on One Thing at a Time
I wouldn’t try to start everything at once. The advice given about how to change your health and fitness seems really simple at first, “Oh, just move more and eat better.”
But when you actually look at that piece of advice from a science-based behavior change perspective, you’ll quickly notice that this advice requires hundreds of behaviors that need to change in your life.
It requires disruptions in your routine, shifts in your identity, and all of that stuff is not simple or easy. Your brain is designed to keep you safe and hold the status quo.
So if you try to change too much at one time, your brain is going to think something’s going wrong. Your brain is going to think you are in danger, and so then it will just drive you back to those previous behaviors. (Poof off the wagon)
Instead, I’d encourage you to think about 2-3 tiny things you can focus on.
Tip #2: Choose Behaviors that Offer Immediate Satisfaction
Focus on behaviors that will lead you to an immediate sense of satisfaction or some sense of progress. Now, don’t get me wrong, it’s true that progress takes time…
If you want to lose weight, you’re not going to drop 15 pounds overnight. But when choosing habits, I would really recommend you focus on something that is super simple.
Something that is going to immediately make you feel just that much healthier just by doing the one single action.
Two of the behaviors I recommend starting with if you need something concrete:
1. Drink more water.
2. Incorporate more walks in your day.
Walking and drinking water are easy, free, and are some of the most accessible health behaviors out there. When you’re doing these health behaviors, I want you to approach them a little differently than you normally would.
What I want you to do is start focusing on noticing, naming, and even increasing the enjoyment or sense of satisfaction you feel from doing those specific things.
For example, get some fancy ice and put it in your water. Or when you go for a walk, listen to that favorite comedy podcast that you love.
Research indicates that people who keep behaviors going most of the time are able to keep those behaviors going because they have a sense of intrinsic motivation.
They actually have enjoyment and satisfaction from doing those behaviors.
What people get wrong though is they think, “Oh, well, I don’t enjoy drinking water or I don’t enjoy going for walks.”
Enjoyment is something that can be cultivated.
If you even notice 1% enjoyment and you focus on that, that feeling will amplify over and over again. Especially in the beginning, it’s so important to notice and amplify that joy so you become not only a person who goes for walks, but a person who loves going for walks.
A person who craves walks, a person who naturally incorporates walks throughout their day because it’s just who they are.
Now, you might’ve noticed I’ve been using the word behavior instead of the word habit, and that is intentional.
The third tip I have for you today that I would tell my former self is to not get so hyper-focused on the idea of consistency.
This advice is going to be contradictory to most of the stuff you’ve probably heard on the internet before, which is going to tell you to….
Pick 1-2 things and just focus on being consistent with those things.
Here’s why I don’t encourage you to focus on consistency.
For the past couple of years, I’ve worked one-on-one with a ton of people who want to actually start a health and fitness journey and stick to it. There’s a pattern that I’ve noticed for a lot of my clients who are focusing on getting consistent, or building habits.
It results in an all or nothing mentality where they think they have to do that behavior every single day.
And if that behavior doesn’t happen every single day, that equals failure.
Now, we obviously want to address that all or nothing thinking eventually, but in the beginning when you’re just getting started…
One of the things that we found works for a ton of our clients is focusing on increasing frequency.
Instead, you’re just going to focus on doing that behavior more often than you did it before. Not making a huge deal of whether or not you’re going to do it every single day.
I’d love for you to try this out if you are on a health and fitness journey for the next two weeks.
I just want you to focus on two tiny things:
1. Drink more water.
2. Go for more walks.
Join The Discussion:
If you’re in for this challenge, let me know in the comments below! Also, if there’s one other thing that you want to add to your roster, something that feels personal, healthy and gives you an immediate sense of satisfaction…
I’d love to hear that in the comments too.
And if you’re telling me, “Okay, Karin, this is great, but I’m not starting a health and fitness journey for the first time. I’ve kind of been in a funk and I’m trying to get back into it.”
Make sure to check out my previous blog HERE, which is all about how to get out of a funk and reset yourself to get back on track.
And as always, if you’re interested in working one-on-one with a behavior change expert, someone who can help you actually make changes in your life that are sustainable and hold you accountable to sticking to them…
We work with tons of people who are on health and fitness journeys. We actually have two coaches who are certified nutrition coaches and can really help you with that aspect of it. And so I’d highly encourage you to at least peek at the sales page and check it out.
That’s all I’ve got for today, see you in the next blog!
COACHING & MEMBERSHIPS:
BODY BRAIN ALLIANCE: Compassion-First Change Education
🌐 Website: https://bodybrainalliance.com