Why Change is so Hard and How to Move Past It and Build a Healthy Lifestyle

Share The Love!

Hello Lovelies:

You know what comment I hear tons and tons? “I love the way you take such good care of yourself. I wish I could create an awesome healthy lifestyle too, but it’s just too hard…” And oh goodness, I get it. Change is hard. And the idea of eating and living differently can be overwhelming at best and down right terrifying at worst… even if the changes are ultimately amazing for your well-being.

But it’s not impossible. And it’s not even as difficult as you might imagine.

Let’s take a peak into why we’re often so resistant to change and how we can work around that. Because you can create that awesome healthy lifestyle. And it doesn’t have to be as hard as you might think. <3

Why Change is so Hard and How to Move Past It and Build a Healthy Lifestyle | How to make lasting healthy lifestyle changes and build a bad ass routine that makes you feel awesome. Whether it be creating a healthy diet, developing a rad exercise routine or anything in between. You've got this! Click through to get started! #healthyeating #healthylifestylechanges #healthyliving

Are we wired to be resistant to change? 

Not to get all bad news bears on you, but our brains are not huge fans of the whole change thing. We’re creatures of habit after all. And even when the change is good we will sometimes stubbornly avoid it at all costs. But why?

Inertia can stop us in our tracks.

And I’m definitely not talking physics! Don’t worry. No textbooks required (and there will not be an exam ;)).

In this case, behavioural inertia is our tendency to do nothing and avoid change. This has to do with our need to maintain our homeostasis (our natural state of healthy equilibrium). Anything that causes physiological changes in our heart rate, metabolism and even respiration disrupts our homeostasis. Which can include changes in diet and exercise. Our bodies aren’t fans of this disruptions and that can sometimes lead to some resistance. (source)

Neurobiology also plays a role.

There’s this awesome part of our brains called the basal ganglia that’s all about routine habits. It loves routine. Change is basically it’s enemy. When we try to incorporate healthy lifestyle changes into our routine our brains don’t always like it. It goes against all of those awesome, pre-set neural pathways. And that often leads to us falling back into old, familiar behaviour (source).

But it’s not all bad news. We can actually use this to our advantage when we want to change things up. While consciously deciding to do something is harder, takes some motivation and doesn’t initially make the basal ganglia a happy camper, if we keep it up it eventually becomes a habit. And you know what that means? That means that it’s pre-set in those wonderful neural pathways and the basal ganglia is on board! It just takes a little time.

So how do we make the best use of that time and work on creating lasting habits? Is there a certain approach that we can take to get past the change bummers and make healthy lifestyle changes that stick?

Here are 5 awesome tips to help you on your way:

Why Change is so Hard and How to Move Past It and Build a Healthy Lifestyle | How to make lasting healthy lifestyle changes and build a bad ass routine that makes you feel awesome. Whether it be creating a healthy diet, developing a rad exercise routine or anything in between. You've got this! Click through to get started! #healthyeating #healthylifestylechanges #healthyliving

How to Approach Change and Create a Lasting Healthy Lifestyle

1. Our Motivations Matter

You know what never fosters long lasting healthy changes? Negative motivations. That idea may seem a little out of place, but it actually makes a ton of sense when you look a little closer.

How often are we motivated to make major lifestyle changes out of feelings like guilt, fear or regret?

I can certainly vouch for this one. When I first started to change things up after my Graves Disease diagnosis fear was my main motivation. All of my self care and dietary changes were fueled by fear. Did that feel good? Uhm… heck no. No matter what I did, feeling fearful all the time felt pretty crumby.

It didn’t take long for me to re-examine my motivations. And when I instead moved my focus to self love and made all of my changes from a place of a deep love and respect for myself it was a heck of a lot easier. And a ton more fulfilling. Six years later, I’m still eating and living well (and feeling pretty happy and excited about it every day!) My mindset adjustment was a key factor.

Why does mindset matter? 

According to the awesome brains over at Harvard Medical School, long lasting change is more likely to stick when it’s fueled by a positive mindset and is self-motivated (source). This is because you are far more likely to stick to something if you’re doing it for you and you feel damn good about it.

Mindset is so important that a meta analysis of 129 different studies on behaviour change by the Economic and Social Research Council found that attitude has an incredibly meaningful impact on our ability to make lasting healthy changes (source). It’s more often than not a factor in our success. 

Rethinking our motivations and making sure that they’re positive is key. Don’t let guilt, fear or regret be your guide – they’re not going to lead you to a healthy place. 

2. Don’t Bite Off More Than You Can Chew

Total change buzzkill? Too much all at once. When you set out to change everything you basically set yourself up for failure. I know it’s really temping to totally revamp everything and create the healthy lifestyle you want and deserve tomorrow. But change is a process; it takes time, effort, love and care and to foster long term healthy changes. Be patient with yourself.

Sometimes this can even apply when we’re only making one change. Like wanting to eat healthier or exercise more. Think about it this way – wanting to exercise regularly is pretty broad and can seem a little daunting. But if we break it down into more manageable steps it becomes a heck of a lot easier to achieve. Making walking 30 minutes a day or doing 30 minutes of yoga before bed your daily goal is more bite sized and do-able.

Related: 5 Goal Setting Tips That Will Help You Achieve Your Dreams In A Healthy Way

In the end you’re still making that awesome change. You’ve just changed the way you’re approaching the target (change inception – queue the music!)

When you break things down into smaller, more manageable pieces and take it one step at a time you make it a heck of a lot farther. People don’t just wake up and run marathons, right? They start by learning to run around the block. They work on their breathing and build up their endurance. It takes time. But you’ve got this!

3. Realize that Setbacks aren’t Failures

Any move that you make in the right direction is awesome. But that doesn’t mean that you won’t experience a little backslide. And that’s ok! Making large, life changing adjustments takes a lot of time. It’s not an event, it’s an adventure. And there are bound to be set backs. But we can cripple ourselves if we expect perfection.

Perfection is a schemer that sets you up for failure. It takes away your permission to stumble. And it often stops us from even trying in the first place. So let’s do our best to throw that pesky ideal out the window, shall we?

Remember how important mindset was to achieving change in the first place? That mindset needs to start with how you plan treat yourself. Be kind, be brave and be patient with yourself as you embark on this awesome healthy lifestyle journey. If you miss a workout or forget to buy greens with your groceries that doesn’t mean you failed.

Our friends at Harvard refer to change set backs as relapses. And I adore what they have to say about it:

“Relapse is common, perhaps even inevitable. Experts urge people not to be derailed by it but to think of it as an integral part of the change process. You learn something about yourself each time you relapse. For example, you may find that the strategy you adopted didn’t fit into your life or suit your priorities. Next time, you can use what you learned, adjust, and be a little ahead of the game as you continue on the pathway to change.” (source)

Bottom line: Don’t be afraid to find yourself taking a couple step backwards. It’s ok. Just keep trying. You’ll get there. 

4. Be Open to Change

This one may sound kind of funny. I mean, we clearly need to be open to change if we’re trying to change. That much is obvious. But I want you to go a little deeper than that.

Like those smart cookies at Harvard said – sometimes your strategy just isn’t working. Sometimes you have to change how you change. And since it’s difficult enough to open yourself up to the idea of change, it can be even harder to change your strategy or idea once you get going. 

If you find yourself stuck at an impasse, pause for moment and reflect on your progress. Is this working for you? Is there a better way to approach things? There’s always a ton of wiggle room if you’re open to it.

Need a little real life example? What if your first goal was to add more exercise to your routine and you broke that down by trying out 30 minutes of yoga every day. But it turns out that you hate it. Major setback, right? But does that mean that we give up entirely? Heck no! We just have to change our approach. Screw the yoga – it’s time to look into what other workouts interest you. It’s easier to stick to things when you actually like them after all!

There are always plenty of options out there. And if you’re willing to keep trying you will find a way that works for you. 

Related: How to Create a Sustainable Healthy Lifestyle

5. Comparison is the Thief of Joy

Why Change is so Hard and How to Move Past It and Build a Healthy Lifestyle | How to make lasting healthy lifestyle changes and build a bad ass routine that makes you feel awesome. Whether it be creating a healthy diet, developing a rad exercise routine or anything in between. You've got this! Click through to get started! #healthyeating #healthylifestylechanges #healthyliving

Your changes, your motivations and your progress are yours and yours alone. They will not look the same as mine or anyone else’s. In the end, the healthy lifestyle you create will be unique too. And when you get a case of comparison-itis all you end up doing is hurting yourself. 

It’s great to look to others for advice, inspiration and even motivation. But if you find yourself comparing your progress with others and feeling bummed take a step back and (figuratively) put blinders on for a hot minute. Log off of social media, put your laptop and cell phone away and change your focus.

This is a great opportunity to reflect on your awesome progress again. Look at how far you’ve come, how much awesomeness you’ve accomplished and what you’ve set out to build for yourself in the first place. It’s easy to forget that we’ve come a long way when we’re staring at all of the people that seem to be miles ahead of us. And we don’t tend to see their struggles either, which makes our own setbacks seem so much bigger.

But, newsflash, everyone has setbacks and struggles. We just don’t tend to advertise them. I promise that you definitely aren’t the only one who’s struggled to make changes (I have). Or even the only one to compare their progress to others and feel like they fall short (totally been there!) We just need to work on realizing that it’s apples and oranges; we really can’t compare two separate journeys.

You’re doing an amazing job, one step at a time.

Feeling better about changing things up? What are your current healthy lifestyle goals? Any tips that you’d add to the list? Let me know in the comments below. Looking forward to hearing about your journey with change.

Health and love,

sara-signature

Thought of the day: Every step that you take in the right direction is a win!

 

Enter Your Info To Get Your Free Self Care Planner and Healthy Dessert Recipe E-Book Instantly. Your healthy lifestyle starter kit 😉

We won't send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time. Powered by ConvertKit

Share The Love!

Sara | Ms. Health-Esteem

Sara Flanagan is a wellness writer and the creator of www.mshealthesteem.com, where she shares her story of being diagnosed with Graves Disease, a chronic autoimmune disease, and empowering herself to do everything she can to thrive in spite of her diagnosis. She writes articles on self-love, acceptance, wellness and nutrition. Join the Health-Esteem Family today and share in the journey.

24 Comments

  1. Reply

    Silvia

    March 2, 2018

    I loved reading this article, I resonated with it so much! Especially the part about setbacks and failure, so much truth. And as Gary Vey also says- mindset is strategy, it’s so important

    • Reply

      Sara

      March 8, 2018

      Such a great quote Sylvia! Thank you so much for sharing. Mindset is so important and can make such a huge difference in our lives if we work on it. I’m so happy this resonated with you too!

  2. Reply

    Brit

    March 2, 2018

    Gosh, if number 5 ain’t the new golden rule, I don’t know what is! But seriously, comparison cannot be the motivation for making a change. It will start out fiery, and then very soon fizzle out to nothing. Good read.

    • Reply

      Sara

      March 8, 2018

      Yass, I love how you described comparison-itis as a fire that simply fizzles out Brit – so well put. It’s always so much better when we do things for ourselves, take our time and appreciate our accomplishments. Everyone’s experience is unique. 🙂 I’m so happy you feel the same way! Wishing you well with any changes or goals you’re currently pursuing <3.

  3. Reply

    Latasha

    March 2, 2018

    Love this post! Full of solid, practical advice. Thanks for sharing!

    • Reply

      Sara

      March 8, 2018

      So glad that you enjoyed it Latasha. Thank you so much for your kind words. Wishing you well <3

  4. Reply

    pocketsfullofdaisies

    March 3, 2018

    This was good to read thanks! I often take on more than I can handle – you have reminded me to slow down x

    • Reply

      Sara

      March 8, 2018

      Oh I’m so happy to hear that! You definitely aren’t alone in that sentiment – I think it’s very easy to take on too many things at once (there are so many exciting possibilities after all!) I’ve been guilty of that too. But I’ve learned that slowing down and taking things one step at a time often takes us much further and makes it a heck of a lot easier. I hope this works well for you too <3.

  5. Reply

    Elisha

    March 3, 2018

    This was so well done. I am a huge fan of Charles Duhigg, and fascinated with the brain. This reminds me of what he has written. Inspiring. Thanks for sharing.

    • Reply

      Sara

      March 8, 2018

      That’s wonderful Elisha! Our brains are absolutely incredible, aren’t they? Do you have any book suggestions by Charles Duhigg? I’d love to check them out. Thank you so much for your kind words! Wishing you a beautiful day!

  6. Reply

    Jamie

    March 4, 2018

    I’ve recently started mini fitness where I will march while brushing teeth, call the kids over for a game of just dance (it gets intense and let me tell you I whoop them haha), or set my timer for 5 minutes and just move until it’s done. I think the key is that my main motivation isn’t weightloss or even being “healthier” but getting my energy out so I don’t feel restless at the end of the day and sleep better. Sleep is such a great motivator. Now to add more structured workouts to my routine. We’ll see. Great run down- I totally agree positivity is everything!

    • Reply

      Sara

      March 8, 2018

      That sounds like an incredible fitness routine Jamie! And I love that it involves having fun with the kids. I actually adore just dancing around as part of my daily exercise. It’s a blast! I love that your mindset is all about self love and kindness. That’s one of the best reasons to do anything <3. Truly an awesome foundation ^^.
      I hope that you continue to have a blast with this. Even if you don't create something structured in the end you're still winning. This is an absolutely wonderful idea! Sending you tons of love <3

  7. Reply

    Rawlings sunday

    March 5, 2018

    That change of mind is very vital to change of lifestyle orelse the person will remain the same. If the person have a change of mind, he/ she will be motivated to change of lifestyle and be able to adapt too.

    https://rawlingsunday.wordpress.com/2018/03/05/13-reasons-you-are-in-debt/

    • Reply

      Sara

      March 8, 2018

      Absolutely! Change is truly the one constant in life yet we often feel resistant to it. You’re so right to bring up the importance of changing your mind before you’re able to change anything else. 🙂 Mindset is everything. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts Rawlings! Wishing you well.

  8. Reply

    Bryce Rae

    March 6, 2018

    If only change was easy. I have one or two habits that I continually think ” that will be my last”.

    • Reply

      Sara

      March 8, 2018

      You’re definitely not alone Bryce! My father struggled with smoking for a long time and I know that he felt the exact same way. It took him a long time to find the help that he needed and create the right mindset to make a change, but he did get there! I know it’s absolutely not easy but you can definitely make it happen. Don’t give up, be gentle with yourself and take your time. You’ve got this <3.

  9. Reply

    midnightmusings

    March 6, 2018

    Nice post! Keep blogging.

    • Reply

      Sara

      March 8, 2018

      You’re so sweet, thank you tons! I definitely don’t plan on stopping any time soon :). I hope you continue to share your goodness as well! Wishing you a wonderful day 🙂

  10. Reply

    Kimberly Clay

    March 6, 2018

    Hi Sara!

    I’ve written about this same subject myself. It’s funny how we can observe changes everyday in nature and the world around us, but yet we’re still so resistant to change in our own lives. Once we learn however, not to resist change, but to embrace it and harness the benefits, our lives are so much better. Thanks for writing a very thoughtful treatment of the subject.

    • Reply

      Sara

      March 8, 2018

      Hiya Kimberly! I’d love to read your post on the subject – would you like to share the link with us?
      And goodness are you ever right. Change is the one true constant in life but we often resist it for as long as possible. It takes so much energy (and can be so stressful) to resist change. But I love that you bring up how powerful and life changing it can be to embrace and harness change instead. It can make a world of difference after all and lead us in directions we never imagined. Wishing you tons of wonderful, exciting changes and new adventures. <3

      • Reply

        Kimberly Clay

        March 8, 2018

        Sara,
        How kind of you! Here’s a link to a post about change in terms of midlife transition, but the fundamentals regarding change still be apply to experiencing life changes even for those who aren’t making a midlife transition. Hope you enjoy reading it. Here’s the link: https://whatshesay.com/moving-on-to-your-next-act-6-simple-steps-for-a-remarkable-midlife-transition/

        • Reply

          Sara

          March 19, 2018

          Thank you tons for sharing your goodness Kimberly! I finally got the chance to dive in and I loved it! Such awesome advice :). And I truly love that you shared the importance of surrounding yourself with a ton of love and support – having a team on your side can make a world of difference. Thank you so much for sharing with me <3

  11. Reply

    hleguilloux

    March 6, 2018

    I love how you share about how the brain plays a major role in the maintenance of our routines, and how hard it can be to break free of habits that feel so comfortable to us (but are probably not the most healthy). I have especially tried to embody the tip about being open to change.. not always easy, but the rewards can be fantastic! Great read as always. 🙂

    • Reply

      Sara

      March 8, 2018

      Oh goodness, it definitely isn’t always easy! That’s so true Heather. And I think that’s something that will pop up for all of us from time to time, no matter what. Change can be scary (even good change). But it can also bring us to the most amazing places and change our lives in the most incredible ways. I think you hit the nail on the head when you bring up the fact that you try to be open to change. That’s all we can do. I think there will always be moments that are more difficult than others, but if we’re trying we’re winning :). I’m so glad you shared your thoughts hun <3. Sending you tons of love!

Share your lovely thoughts

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Related Posts