Don’t start a radical new diet/exercise plan – just change one thing

by Ali on January 2, 2008

Like many office workers, I was back at my desk today after a ten-day break. For me, the first day back after a holiday is filled with firm resolve: I will finally get through my backlog of work, I will keep those lurching piles of paper from engulfing my desk.

It’s often the same with diets. Monday morning, or the designated “first day” of the diet is marked by grim enthusiasm. “This time, I’ll stick to the diet; this time, I’ll radically overhaul all my eating habits; this time, I’ll go for a jog every morning before work…”

Unfortunately, my resolutions tend to last about three days before the enormity (and impracticality) of the attempted changes becomes all too much.

So this year, if you’re not sure where to get started, if the thought of “going on a diet” or “starting an exercise plan” makes you shudder, find just one thing that you can change :

  • Cutting out sugar in your tea/coffee
  • Going for a twenty minute brisk walk at lunchtimes
  • Taking a packed lunch every day instead of buying sandwiches
  • Keeping fruit on your desk, and eating two pieces each day
  • Drinking six-eight glasses of water a day

None of these changes involve a huge overhaul of your current life. Decide on one (feel free to make up your own – mine’s “No chocolate after dinner-time”!) and write a reminder somewhere that you’ll see regularly: maybe your screensaver, a post-it note on your monitor, or a message on your fridge door.

Then stick to it. If you slip up, don’t agonise over “failing”, just get straight back onto it – one day lost doesn’t matter, a “bad week” can be easily put behind you, but giving up entirely will just undo all your good work.

Once the change has become a firm habit – which might well take several weeks – introduce one more small change, then another. By the end of the year, you may have completely overhauled your life without realising.

Decide on that first change now (don’t worry about finding the best change to make, roll a dice or pick one out of a hat if you have to), write it somewhere visible, and get started!

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