I just submitted a new word to the Urban Dictionary. (I love making up words or redefining existing ones!)
If anyone were to ask me "how are you doing this whole life makeover?" I'd answer with one word: incrementally. I have implemented one small change at a time until it became a habit, and then I incorporated another new behavior. It's been a total evolutionary process that has spanned a few years. It wasn't exactly intentional initially but it has evolved into the way I keep my forward momentum in pretty much all areas of my life now.
I used to be an "all or nothing" kind of gal. Going on a "diet" involved emptying my house of all evil foods and buying a ton of "diet" foods: Lean Cuisine, Smart Ones, Splenda, Sugar Free this and Fat Free that and Diet Sodas, Baked Lays, and any other "diet" product I could get my hands on. I wouldn't allow myself to eat anything that wasn't "diet food" or low or no calories. And this diet would last anywhere from a couple of hours to a couple of days (maybe even a couple of weeks) and I'd fall "off" the diet, and soon the "diet foods" were replaced once again with high fat, high sugar or highly processed foods of the worst kind, officially ending the diet.
A few years ago I started learning a bit more about nutrition (in large part from a friend who's really knowledgeable about this subject) and started making (and used this phrase at the time) "incremental changes." For instance, I switched from regular whole milk to organic lowfat milk consistently. I also started drinking a little more water each day. Once those became truly habitual, I tried making sure I ate at least one vegetable (or a salad) each day. Just one veggie per day. And I did that for a few weeks until it became habit. Prior to that, there were seldom even veggies in the house, let alone being consumed daily!
After that I tried eating one healthy thing along with each meal. If I went to McDonald's and got a Big Mac, that was fine. But I had to also have a side salad. I could eat an entire box of sweet sugary cereal for breakfast, but I had to also have a yogurt or a piece of fruit, etc. Over time, I really had something healthy with every meal, but what also started to happen was I started eating less of the junk in favor of the healthier choices. I think my body just started to get happy and wanting the healthy food since I was choosing it more and more often.
This time around, there is no "all or nothing." I don't get "on" and then fall "off" a diet. I really don't. I am making choices each day, each meal, each snack. Mostly I choose healthy because it feels good. Sometimes I choose cheesecake because that feels good, too. Until I'm done and then I remember it doesn't feel as good as I thought it might. :-) But at any rate, I'm not "off the diet." I just choose something super healthy at the very next meal or snack time. I don't wait until Monday morning because the week's shot anyway. That's all or nothing thinking and it sabotages my forward momentum!
Try making an incremental change today. One small thing. Commit to drinking a couple of glasses of water and keep at it for a couple of weeks until you realize you always have your water with you or nearby. It won't take long for this to become your new normal. Once you've done that, try adding one extra veggie per day. No matter what else you eat, make sure you add a healthy vegetable (dark leafy greens, or broccoli, maybe carrots that are easy to pack and take along?) Do that for a few weeks and you'll see it really does become habit!
Make today's Word Of The Day "Incrementality." Get rid of that all or nothing mindset and replace it with the thought that doing one small thing is better than doing nothing. It really is!