Learn to walk before you run!
So, I'd signed up to my coaching program, I'd filled out all of the application forms, given an example food diary, taken my day 1 photos and was ready to go! I was not just ready, I was raring to go! Now that I'd made the decision, all I wanted was to get started, to start seeing the results. So off I went. I went in all guns blazing. Supermarket shop - done. Calorie counting app installed - done, gym gear ready to go - done! I could do this, I was ready!
My coach sent through my exercise and nutrition program, all do-able and a gentle start. And off I went. When making any changes to your life, whether it is lifestyle or behaviours it is easy to get carried away, to get over excited by the prospect of the results and to go at it a little to hard and too fast. For me, I had a tough week of headaches, low energy and some very sore muscles from the gym. This was from making sudden and rather drastic changes in my diet and exercise regime.
Then came check in day. Every Thursday morning, I weigh myself, take my measurements, take progress photos and send them off to my coach along with how I got on, my highs and lows, what was easy, what was hard etc. You know what? I was disappointed. The week had been hard. I hadn't hit my macros (protein, fat and carbohydrates) perfectly, I'd be over or under my calories, not made it to the gym enough, not had enough water...and I was feeling a little deflated.
What I had done, was try and run before I could walk. I had expected the world. My expectation was that I would go into this process and fly! I'd simply type my meals into the tracker app, and instantly be an expert at how much of what I needed to hit my macro goals. That I could walk into the gym, have a good session and feel fit enough to go again the next day. I definitely didn't anticipate being that sore that it took 4 days before I could get back into the gym.
The moral of the story here? Baby steps. Where I went wrong my first week was that I had my big goal. I had an image in my head of where I was heading, and I had my path, do x, y and z and you will hit that goal. However that goal is still way off into the future. And x, y and z, while achievable, were still fairly large steps. What I needed to do, and did eventually do, was break x, y and z down into even smaller steps.
For example, X being tracking my food, eating lots of protein and less carbohydrates. to break that down, I first worked on simply getting into the hang of weighing my food. Then into cutting down on my sugar (1 teaspoon in my tea to 1/2). By giving myself small, and easily achievable goals, meant I could win. And winning means I felt like I was succeeding and would keep going. Each time I reached the end of a day and successfully had made one small, positive change, or even just managed to maintain that change for a second day, my brain rewarded me with a nice dollop of dopamine.
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is a motivator, it encourages us to do the activity again. We get it when we eat, drink or carry out tasks. If we set ourselves too big a task, we are unlikely to accomplish it, get that amazing feeling of 'I did it!', and therefore not get the dopamine, or the motivation to keep going. Which is why it is easy to fall off the wagon, and give up, feeling like it isn't working.
To be able to stick at your new habits, to be able to keep working towards your goals, take small, achievable steps every day. And when you win, bask in it! Pat yourself on the back, and enjoy that dollop of dopamine!