Strategies for changeOver the past couple years I have been making lots of changes in my life.  I started eating differently, working out more, engaging in more self-reflection, and even got married, plus started a business and a whole bunch of other things.  It has been quite an incredible process/journey to experience.  I still experience lots of challenges and some days I am a complete failure (i.e. don’t workout, turn into my moody old unhappy self loathing self and eat like crap all day long).  Those days are far in few between, but now when they happen I can see them and I recover much quicker from them.    I share this with you for two reasons, 1) so you realize that just like you, I struggle too, and 2) to share some things that I have learned that will hopefully help you.

First, I want to say that making changes is our lives is difficult and creates several potential outcomes, some that we may enjoy and others that we might be so excited about. However, there is no easy way around it, when you start to make changes, transitions and transform things cannot stay the same.  As I have started to get healthy some of my friends have been completely supportive however I have also lost a few.  It may have been difficult for them or I realized that they were not who I wanted to surrounded myself with.  It is hard because I love all my friends and I care about them.  And at the same time I have to make the choices about who I want to spend time with by asking myself, are they adding value to my life. In asking this question, I had let go of the relationships that caused me extra stress and drama.

Second, as you start making changes it can oddly make other people feel very uncomfortable and they may unintentionally try to sabotage you, heck, you might intentionally sabotage yourself.  Believe me, your friends typically do not try to do it to be mean or spiteful but the truth is that when you start making changes, it can make others feel uncomfortable with their choices. Maybe you have experienced this before, a friend/co-worker might say “it’s only one bite, it wont hurt you.”  Only one bite might not hurt you physically but it could potentially cause you to feel bad about your choice and use negative self talk against yourself and that to me is worse and not worth the bite.

Third, when I was young I liked watching Magnum P.I. and for those of you who don’t know the show, the main character would start the beginning of every episode with a monologue as they panned over the Hawaiian Ocean.  One particular episode stuck with me since I was probably 12 years old (OMG can’t believe is more than 25 years ago, yikes – I don’t feel 38).  Anyways, he said this “Its not the change that is hard for people, it is the transition of the change.” Or something to that effect.

Let’s think about that for a minute, where do you struggle most when you start to make changes?  For me it is while I am in the process of making the change.  Once it becomes natural and normal for me I don’t struggle, as much.  Also think about your friends, when do they struggle with you making changes, typically in the beginning when you are doing something they aren’t used too.  I noticed this with my husband, 24+ months ago when I started making changes and preparing for my competition, he wouldn’t have thought about whether I could eat at a certain place or not because I was making changes to my diet, in fact it was hard for him to remember that I wasn’t eating certain things no matter how many times I reminded him. Now, he asks if I can eat somewhere, which is really awesome but it took some time for both of us.  Him to get used to asking and me for learning that I can eat almost anywhere and still feel good.  It is much easier for me to make a choice that follows the way I want to eat now than it was 24+months ago.  However this process took over a year for both of us, I had to be patient not only with myself but with him and understand that this was different and not his choice.  We still to this day eat different food for some meals and you know what it’s okay.

So how can this help you when you start to make changes, well here are 4 strategies to help you navigate the process of change:

1) Remember it takes time and you have to be patient with yourself and with your friends and family.  You might have to frequently remind them that you are changing your eating habits (they will likely forget).  Work on not getting frustrated with them, they are not the ones changing you are.  So just breathe and remain calm.

2) Understand that you will sabotage yourself in the beginning and your friends/family may also unintentionally do this as well.  Remember when I talked about transition being difficult, well as humans we prefer to stay where we are comfortable and when we go too far outside our comfort zone we frequently get scared and our subconscious mind tries to get us back in a place of homeostasis.  If you know that you will do this and you expect it will happen, than you can better prepare yourself for when it does.  You won’t be as harsh on yourself or with others because honestly they want you to stay like they know you as well.

3) Learn to let go. Some things just are worth worrying or stressing about when you are trying to make changes.  That added stress can potentially be causing you to sabotage yourself.  So figure out what and who is important in your life and focus on those things.  Ask yourself, is this helping me with the transition or making it more stressful?  If it’s not helping you, let it go.

4) Focus on one change at time.  Many times we want to overall our whole life at once and that creates major panic in our brain and subconscious.  Focus on changing just one thing at a time.  Right now I am focusing on giving up grains, not dairy and sweets or even alcohol, just grains.  This helps me because I can still go out with friends, I can still enjoy dinner with my husband pretty much anywhere we want, I just have to remember one thing – swap grains for extra veggies. Easy enough right?

butterfly transformationRemember don’t overload yourself with expectations.  Know that you will sabotage yourself and others may as well (though not on purpose) and it is okay because this is a process, a journey and patience is the key.  Having patience and knowing it takes time to make changes will ease the stress a little bit. You may also find that you don’t beat yourself up as much and are more compassionate to yourself and towards others.  Remember, you are going through a transformation much in the same way a Caterpillar turns into a butterfly, it will be painful and may even take you to a dark, lonely place, but once you reach the other side you will be able to spread your wings and fly to places you never even know existed.

I can’t wait to see you spread your wings and fly!

Much love and support ~ Amanda