by Ryan Carsia

You’ve tried everything — crash dieting, the Tough Mudder challenge, working out for 60 days straight — but nothing has worked. It’s not your fault. After all, change is difficult …or so you thought. A major mistake people make when embarking on a distinctive lifestyle change is starting too big. Although you may do well with this immediately, it fails to offer the long-term solution you’re looking for. So how can you make monumental changes in your exercise, nutrition, or general lifestyle habits that will last not only this month, but every month following? It’s unbelievably simple, and I’ll tell you exactly how.

First we must choose an area of our life we would like to change, whether it’s our physical activity, nutrition, or sleep habits. From there we’ll focus on one aspect of that area that will be the easiest to accomplish while giving us the greatest benefit. Sounds pretty good, right?

We want to pick something we know 100 percent we can do for two weeks straight, and again, make it as simple as possible. Some possible examples include:

• Going to the gym every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, no matter what

• Making a balanced breakfast every morning before work

• Drinking 64 ounces of water every day

• Getting 7+ hours of sleep each night

You can certainly make your goals even easier than this because the body is smart, and your brain responds best to success. The most difficult part of change is the possibility of failure, so starting small and setting your mind up for success creates great momentum for making monumental, lasting changes in your life. Once you’ve completed that goal for two weeks, attempt something one notch higher and focus solely on that goal for the next two weeks. Make sense?

Making changes in this way is the easiest and least resistant path to success. If you were unable to complete your goal, then pick something easier and try again. I strongly recommend picking something you may initially think is too easy, because hey, this is the real world, and things get in our way on a daily basis that can throw us off track.

To recap, do these things in the following order:

1. Pick an area of your life that needs the most attention right now, and make the decision to change it.

2. Decide what habit you can change that will give you the greatest return on your investment, your time. (If you’re not sure how to decide this, our staff of elite, nationally certified trainers can easily do this for you in a Complimentary Body Diagnostics session.)

3. Do it for two weeks straight, no matter what.

4. Pick something a little more difficult and continue making those small changes that will have a lasting, monumental impact on your life!

Ryan Carsia is a personal trainer, performance coach and team leader at New Jersey Athletic Club. He has worked alongside some of the industry’s most sought after fitness professionals, such as Brett Klika and Todd Durkin, trainer of Super Bowl MVP Drew Brees. In addition to his bachelor’s degree, he is NASM CPT, CES, IYCA YFS, and HSSCS-certified.

New Jersey Athletic Club, 4152 Quakerbridge Road, Lawrenceville. 609-336-4141. www.njac.com.

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