What About the How?

Knowledge Is Power, But What About The How? We have all heard the saying, “KNOWLEDGE IS POWER.” Personal trainers will typically interpret this to mean; Once I give a client the workout(s), the nutritional plan, the sleep guide, and the time management model, and have enlightened them with the KNOWLEDGE why these things will change their life, I expect that they now have the POWER to make those lifestyle changes. And they stop there. So why are the vast majority of people failing at living a healthy lifestyle? We all know that we should be eating our veggies each day. That we should exercise on a regular basis. That we should get 7-8 hours of sleep each night. That we should avoid eating processed foods. That we should avoid sugar. That we should, we should, and we should. ENOUGH with the shoulds! Knowledge is only part of the power. The knowledge gives us the why, but you need to know the how in order to implement these lifestyle changes. The information is actually quite simple, but it’s not easy. I believe that is the reason so many people either fail, or never even attempt to make changes. This is something that breaks my heart. I see too many absolutely beautiful people out there never experience the vitality and happiness they deserve because they have only been given half the equation to succeed. So let’s tackle the second half of the equation…the HOW.

When I am facing an overwhelming task (such as a lifestyle overhaul), the first thing I do is break it down into smaller parts. I literally sit down and write down all of the elements. At State of Fitness, I sit down with our members and write their S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely) goals first. These goals are then are broken down into the necessary components to reach that goal. I then ask the client, which component they are ready and willing to work on at the moment. At this point, an adherence grid can be a helpful tool. On the adherence grid, write one behavior you are going to change for the month and then mark each day you are successful. By focusing on one thing at a time, you reduce the risk of becoming overwhelmed and increase your chance successfully changing that behavior. Research has shown that it takes 21 days to create a new habit. I like to add a few more days to instill confidence. I look for my clients to have an 80% for a given behavior before I add another behavior. Continue this step-by-step approach until you reach your goals.

Let’s look at an example:

  • S.M.A.R.T. Goal: Lose 10 pounds by December 31, 2012
  • Components: Exercise 3-4 days/week, eat 5 servings of vegetables/day, drink 64 ounces of water/day, sleep 7-8 hours each day, avoid processed foods, etc.
  • Adherence Grid Behavior: Drink 64 ounces of water/day
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
1     X 2     X 3     X 4 5     X 6     X 7     X
8 9     X 10     X 11     X 12     X 13     X 14
15     X 16     X 17     X 18     X 19 20     X 21     X
22     X 23     X 24     X 25     X 26     X 27     X 28     X
29     X 30 31     X        

In this example, the client was successful in drinking 64 ounces of water/day for 26 out of the 31 days. This results in a 83.87% success rate with this behavior modification. Because this is a greater than 80% success rate, I would then ask the client what they wanted to accomplish next.

Give yourself the opportunity to be successful. Celebrate that success and feel the sense of accomplishment. This begins to remove the self-defeating tape you have been playing over and over in your head, and changes it to a positive, self-motivating, and intrinsic message that becomes a part of the new you.

The key is breaking your goals down into manageable components that you can then single out specific behaviors you are willing to change one by one. I hope you find this idea for the “how” to be helpful. If you are still feeling unsure, and a bit overwhelmed, incorporate the help of a qualified personal trainer. A qualified personal trainer can help guide you through the process of goal setting, assisting you in determining what behavior to modify first, and support you through the journey of obtaining the vitality and happiness you have always wanted from your life.

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