6 essential first steps you need to take for realistic, sustainable healthy habits

Have you thought about making healthy changes but it seems too overwhelming? Here are the exact first 6 steps you need to take - in order. Click to read the full post.

So you're sick of diets? Tired of yo-yo'ing? Tired of feeling like a failure or getting all psyched just to find out that the program your friends have been raving about didn't work for you? What about the other side of it? Have you tried a program or diet that DID actually work? You got stoked, but as soon as you stopped the program, you stopped exercising and you were back to eating junk food? 

UGH - WHY!?! 

Why me? Why again? Why can't I get the hang of this? I'm just always going to be overweight. That's just how I'm built. 

WRONG, WRONG AND WRONG AGAIN! 

You know why you failed? Because the diet told you what to do, but never equipped you with the knowledge to wean yourself off of it and incorporate aspects of that diet into real life. And in real life, we don't starve ourselves for 30 days and we don't refuse every opportunity to go out to eat. Lunch meetings, hello! And date night? Can't cut that out.

You want to lose weight, you want to be healthy and you want to look and feel great - but you don't want to sacrifice your sanity to do it. 

Learning how to create healthy habits that actually work for your lifestyle is CRUCIAL - absolutely vital! How do you do it? By laying the right groundwork, and getting comfortable with taking just one step at a time. Need a kick in the butt? Register for the live masterclass.

Here are the 6 steps you need to take, in order.

1. Getting comfortable with taking one step at a time

We definitely live in a world and a time when we don't only want things instantaneously, but we expect them - and it's the norm.

  • Directions? Open google maps. 
  • Define abscond? Google it. Or just ask Siri. 
  • Talk to your friend in Australia? Call, text, FaceTime, Skype, Google Hangout, WhatsApp
  • Buy groceries? You can do that online without ever getting out of bed or putting pants on.

So a healthy lifestyle - that should be instantaneous too, right? 

Unfortunately that's just not the case. Healthy habits aren't created overnight. Healthy habits are created by taking one single step at a time, and continuing to take one step at a time for a long period of time. 

Healthy habits aren't the only thing that's created over time though. Think about your schooling, your career, your family, your family relationships, your faith, your friendships - I'm talking your best, closest friends who are almost like family. 

The MOST important parts of life are NOT created overnight. Your health should be included in those most important aspects of life. If you can start thinking of your health as a long-term commitment and one of the most important parts of your life, you should start getting more comfortable with putting your healthy changes in the same category as your family, friends, education, career and faith -- instead of the same category as directions and defining weird words.

Catching my drift? 

A healthy LIFESTYLE is created over time - first by taking one single step, then by continuing to take steps toward a healthier lifestyle. Those single steps will naturally turn into habits and those habits will become your lifestyle - your healthy lifestyle. 

So don't fret when you don't drop 20 lbs overnight. That's unrealistic, unhealthy and would be totally overwhelming if that was the expectation. You would be setting yourself up for failure. Instead, know that you're in this for the long haul - and one step at a time is going to be less overwhelming and more rewarding.

2. Knowing your starting point

I always say that a healthy lifestyle has three parts:

  • If you need to lose weight, that's the first part and in order to lose weight, you need to eat less.
  • Once you're in the weight range you want to be in (you don't necessarily have to be at your exact goal weight, but you should be within a reasonable range of it), then you should really start incorporating a good exercise plan. 
  • Once you've done that, you should start eating better. 

So the three parts - if you want to lose weight, you eat less. And if you want to be healthy, you need to exercise and eat right. 

I totally get the excitement of finally getting motivated and wanting to jump right in head first. But in order to create a healthy lifestyle the right way, you have to know where you're starting. As excited as you are, you aren't going to compete in the Olympics if you haven't been training for the Olympics, right? 

You're also not going to do someone else's workout plan or someone else's meal plan if you're not at the same starting point. 

If you need to lose weight, but you jump straight to trying to eat all the best, healthiest foods, you're probably going to fail. That's too extreme a change to start with. 

And if you do need to lose weight, how do you even know what "eating less" looks like if you don't know how much you're eating right now? 

If you don't know your starting point, you might work hard, but you most likely won't be working effectively. Don't go starving yourself because you think that'll make you lose weight. There's no reason to just taking a running start and make yourself miserable because you're running around like a chicken with your head cut off. 

If you want to create a healthy lifestyle that's not miserable, but is actually realistic and sustainable, you HAVE to start with knowing your starting point. 

Would you ever jump into an executive level position at a Fortune 500 company if you graduated college last month and have less than 6 months of experience? 

No way! 

Not only would it be unlikely that you would get hired for that position in the first place, but you would be in way over your head. You would feel overwhelmed, discouraged, chaotic and it's likely that you would fail. 

The same is true with creating healthy habits. Don't jump into the deep end unless you're actually prepared to be there. If you need to lose 50 lbs, it's impractical to start by meal prepping all your meals with completely "clean" food. Too extreme. Unrealistic. Overwhelming. Discouraging. Chaotic. It's just too much. 

Start the right way by making sure you know your starting point before jumping in. Then, if you realize you're ready for the deep end, go for it. But most likely, you'll realize that instead of jumping into the deep end the first time you try swimming, it would be easier to learn how to swim, start by walking into the pool and then swim down to the deep end. 

3. Finding 3 LAYERS of motivation

Now, when you're ready to make healthy changes, you're going to want to make sure you have LAYERS of motivation before you get too far in. 

Layers? Amanda, what are you talking about? I'm ready, I'm pumped, let's just do this!

I know, I know - I don't want to burst your bubble or ruin your excitement. Keep that excitement! You need that and it's important! 

But what happens after you're a week in and you're tired and you don't want to get up to go to the gym? 

...Or when you're in a rush and don't feel like making anything? 

...Or when you're just really craving an entire chocolate cake?

...Or when you've been super lazy for a week and didn't go to the gym or eat well a single day that week? Will you be able to get yourself to start again?

In those moments, you're going to need something else to rely on. This is where layers come into play. On different days, you're going to be motivated by different things. That's just how life works. Otherwise healthy habits wouldn't be hard and we wouldn't be having this conversation.

Maybe one day you're motivated because you want to look hot in your new dress and it's Valentine's Day Weekend.

Another day you might remember that your mom has a bad back, that your back has been hurting lately too, but as easy as it would be to skip the gym today, you really need to strengthen your core so you don't have to end up having back surgery too. Plus, as much pain as you're in right now, you know deep down that if you strengthen your core, you'll be in less pain. (true story from my life)

There will also be times you see your kids, nieces or nephews running around and want to make sure you're around for them. Or maybe you've noticed that you're a better sister, daughter, girlfriend, wife, friend or employee when you're eating right and exercising - and you don't want to snap at other people. 

Plus, when you're keeping healthy habits, you're just happier and more productive. You also sleep better. 

ALL of these situations are true in my life. 

I get it because I've been there. Life happens.

You and I might be motivated by different things, but the truth is that days will be hard - sometimes weeks and months will be hard. If you're not prepared with layers of motivation, it'll be too easy to give up. 

On the flip side, when you do have layers of motivation, you'll essentially be stepping up to the plate with a full arsenal. That's right - you're the boss. Nobody can mess with you. 

If you're ready to make your motivation work for you, learn how to lose weight without diets or trainers and create a 100% customized meal plan, this masterclass is for you!

4. Have variety

Raise your hand if you want to eat plain chicken and run a mile every day for the rest of your life!!!

....

....

Nobody? 

...

...

Bueller? 

...

...

Ya... nobody wants that. Unless you don't have taste buds and you really like to run. 

But here's the thing.. even if the food was pizza or something you really loved, you would get sick of it if you ate it every. single. day. for the rest of your life. 

I'm also betting that even if you love running, you're not going to want to run the exact same route every day for the rest of your life. You'll probably get sick of it. 

Variety keeps things interesting. It keeps your mind young and it's good for your muscles to mix things up. I feel like this is an obvious one. Even if you start with the same routine because you "don't want to think about it" - you'll still need to mix things up, or you'll get bored, your food will taste like cardboard and you'll probably stop that "healthy" habit. 

Eat a variety of foods and mix up your workouts. It'll keep you sane - and it's good for you. 

5. Be accountable

You need to find a way to be accountable. 

Yup, I said it. 

This is nothing new, but it is important. 

You have to be accountable. (I realize I just repeated myself.)

For those days when your motivation might not be enough? Accountability is like a safe-guard, making sure you stick to those healthy habits you want - even when you think you don't want them in the moment. 

There are TONS of different ways to be accountable. Just like with eating less and eating right - there's tons of different recipes and options out there for you. You don't have to be accountable the same way Suzy is - just find a way to be accountable - a way that works for you - and stick to it. 

Because we're all going to have days when all the motivation and preparation in the world just doesn't seem to be enough to get us off the couch. Remember, this is real life guys. I'm not trying to convince you that your life will be daffodils and daisies if you create healthy habits. 

Instead, I'm trying to help you prepare - so that when you do start making healthy changes - and when you do have hard days - because you're human - that it won't be the end of the world. Instead, you'll have so many layers of motivation and accountability, that the likelihood of you succeeding will skyrocket. 

So be accountable. 

6. Goals + Planning

Would you ever decide to climb Mt. Everest without knowing where the trails were, what the weather would be like or what you needed to pack? 

If you did, you probably wouldn't survive the climb. Literally. You might die if you tried that approach.

You aren't going to die if you don't make your goals and plans for a healthy lifestyle, but you are going to fail. 

And depending on your family history and current health, it's possible that you could die early. 

Sorry - not trying to be dramatic, but that's something I think about all the time - I want to be healthy and fit so I don't die young.

Have you ever gone through a corn maze before? You can get seriously lost in there. It can end up taking you forever to get out. Sometimes you go around in circles and sometimes you just get stuck. You can't see anything around you, you can't see the path and it can get frustrating if it takes too long. 

And you usually have some partial map and flags or clues along the way. 

But if you had a complete map before you started that corn maze, you could draw out your route before you went in, and then follow that route once you entered the maze. 

Sure, maybe it would take an extra ten minutes or so to draw out that route, but if you don't draw out the route first, it could take several additional hours to get through the maze. 

Healthy lifestyles are the same way. 

If you don't make a plan ahead of time, it's likely that you'll end up frustrated, clueless, lost and running around in circles, but not actually making progress on your healthy journey. 

If you'll take the extra time at the beginning to set clear goals and create a personalized, practical plan, you'll see results faster. 

THAT is how you accomplish your healthy goals most effectively and efficiently. 

Motivation, variety, accountability, goals and planning are all going to work together to help you stay focused and disciplined. 

Ready to kick-start your healthy changes? Sign up for the live masterclass.