I have spent some time of late nattering on about the difficulties of making a change. Because change is hard, my thinking is that you should implement any and every strategy possible to set yourself up for success. One of those strategies is to lower the barriers, to make it easier.
One of the barriers is simply getting overwhelmed. There are so many things we need to make a change; things to do, things to stop doing, that we get overwhelmed with it all and slip back into old habits. To improve your chances of success in implementing change you need to be efficient.
Okay, but how does efficiency apply to a healthy lifestyle? Well, think back to, say, reducing your stress levels. Five of the strategies for reducing stress (socialising, meditation, vigorous exercise, getting more sleep and breathing exercises) are accomplished through yoga. That’s efficiency. Instead of trying to find time for five activities, you find time for one activity which encompasses all five.
One of the things I like to do for inspiration (say, did I write something on getting inspired?) is peruse my regular health and well being sites to see what the hot topics are trending, and then riff on them here. Today I see that livestrong has an article on 9 techniques to keeping up your metabolism. Amongst them:
- Strength training
- Interval training
- Core training
- Drink more water
- Eat more protein
All of it sound advice, all of it advice I’ve given you over the last little while and all of it directly, or indirectly, implemented as a part of my yoga/Pilates practices. In order…
Strength training. There tends to be a perception that yoga and Pilates are more about flexibility than strength. Nothing could be further from the truth. I gained over 20 lbs of muscle as a result of regular Bikram Yoga, and Joseph Pilates designed his exercise program specifically to include strength training.
Interval training. High Intensity Interval Training; short bursts of total work followed by brief periods of rest. Go from a resting heart rate of 60, to a peak heart rate of 170. That’s Bikram Yoga. In the introduction to an Inferno Hot Pilates class, the teacher will tell you, right up front, that it’s a HIIT class.
Core training. Again, something both yoga and Pilates are built around. You cannot perform the yoga postures without building core strength, and one of the principles of Pilates is core strength.
Drink more water. This is indirectly addressed by yoga and Pilates. You do those exercises, you sweat. You sweat, you drink more water.
Eat more protein. Hard exercise destresses you and improves your sleep. Stress and sleep deprivation are both triggers for food cravings. Reduce the triggers, reduce the junk food cravings. Eat less crap and have more room for healthy food. As for me, I have found that heavy exercise increases my desire to eat protein. I assume it’s because the exercise is breaking down muscle fibres, and my body manifests its need to rebuild the muscles through the desire for protein.
So, efficiency. If you need to do several things to accomplish a goal, ask yourself if it’s easier to implement many changes, or few. I think it’s intuitively obvious that the fewer changes you need to make, the easier it is to maintain them.
So before you set out to make a change, ask yourself:
- What change to I want to manifest?
- What tasks must I do in order to manifest it?
- How many of them can be combined into a single activity?
That combining of activities, that efficiency lowers the barriers and increases your chances of success.