Updated: May 12, 2019
Too much change in one hit is overwhelming. Success is more likely if you introduce a series of small changes frequently.
Early 2018 our son joined a gym and coaxed, cajoled and wrapped me around his little finger to change our diet. I learned about macro diet and proteins, carbs and fats. I downloaded a whole heap of new recipes and discovered food isles in the supermarket I didn't know existed. We have never been 'foodies' so learning to cook all these new foods was a huge learning curve.
Somewhere around March 2018 I decided it was ridiculous to do a round trip from home to gym to drop him off, only to do the same 45mins later (the gym is 15mins drive). I took a bold move and decided I would stay and do a workout too. I decided I would join the gym.
I confirmed with Sebastian that we were to be strangers in the gym. I would be completely mortified if we were associated! He, the fit, confident young man; me, the middle age (can I be that generous?) woman who has no idea what she is doing. It was shear humiliation and I was having nothing to do with him. As part of the membership deal I was introduced to a personal trainer (Tracey Defferard is lovely by the way - would highly recommend) and asked my fitness goals. I didn't have any, so I just said I wanted to slow down my aging.
Fast forward a year. Except December when things got a little chaotic and then we went on holidays, I have been going to the gym at least 3 times a week. My target is 5 sessions; sometimes I can get on a roll of 6-7 for a couple of weeks, so I'm quite pleased. Our eating has changed significantly. Rudolf is not so keen but bless him, he always says he wants to eat my cooking even when I know he doesn't. I am no cook, believe me!
A little while ago I read a book about improving health (James Atkinson, Health and Fitness: tips that will change your life) I liked the way he organised his thinking. He argues the three things that need to change to become healthier revolve around mind, diet and exercise and then goes on to argue that too much change at the same time leads to failure. He sets out a plan with one small change per fortnight so the change can be incorporated into routine.
When I look back on the incremental and progressive changes that have happened in our family, I think I accidentally followed these principles. His well thought out model is a lot more logical than what I was doing, so I definitely think now I can do better.
I heard a quote from Tom Ziglar (son of Zig Ziglar) that went something along the lines of 'the fastest way to success is to replace bad habits with good habits'. In this interview he says a good habit is just a series of good choices back to back to back. I was so relieved to hear him clarify that this is the simplest way, not the easiest way.
I can apply this to my life, but as I write, I am conscious of all those families out there that have to change so much in their routines to fit around their child's needs. It's a huge life style change when a child arrives; it's quite another when the child has a disability. All those appointments to get to, all the home programs to follow and all the research and learning that needs to be done. I smile as I remember my pre-kid therapy days, giving out home programs to parents that I estimated would only take 10mins per day, and then not understanding when they came back saying they couldn't fit it in. What you couldn't find 10mins? How naive I was!
To all those parents out there who are juggling and balancing these life demands, breath out. Remember. Your time is yours. Your child is yours. Your family is yours. You receive advice from others, but your decisions are yours.
Your decisions are yours, so decide what 'success' means for you and your family. When I use the term success, I'm talking along the lines of the qualities in your life you want. Maybe more time with the kids, less time at work, more regular sleep, dinner at a reasonable time, fitting in 'space' in your day, the list goes on. Success might be bigger or different for you. It's all very individual and personal, and ultimately goes back to the dreams, aspirations and goals you share in your family.
All I know is that too much change in one hit is usually overwhelming. To get to where you want to go, it might be easier to stop for a minute. In your pause, define what success means to you and be purposeful rather than reactive. Think about the small changes you can make that will bring what you need and want just a little closer.
Would be really interested to hear thoughts on what others think. Drop a comment, I'm really keen to hear from you.