Updated: Apr 19, 2020
I used to be the queen of "until". You know, "I'll wait until Monday to clean up my diet" or "I'll wait until after the holidays."
Well, "until" never arrived for me UNTIL I realized that today actually counts. I look back over aaaaallll those years of "Just one more day" and "But it's the weekend" and, my favorite, "The Monday after next will be the beginning of the month. That'll be a perfect day to change everything."
Today counts. Period.
If you do just one thing different today and you do it again tomorrow, and the day after that, then 30 days from now you've got a month under your belt. The first day of a lifestyle change isn't some magical day where you suddenly wake up and no longer love sugar or crave healthy foods you've never craved before or do some eye-of-the-tiger workout for an hour when you can't ever motivate yourself to go for a walk.
Let me say it again: TOMORROW IS NOT SPECIAL.
What is special is this moment now. The present moment. Because, when you make the tiniest little change, it sets into motion big change. You can't see it from here so don't even try. Instead, trust that one little change will turn into a whole new life one day.
Need proof? How about me? It's been ten years since I lost over 100 pounds and kept it off. Unfortunately, it took a lot of wasted years where I would skip another workout to go home and binge on junk food and television and then put myself to sleep at night fantasizing about being some perfect, hard-bodied athlete. Yes sir, tomorrow was gonna be MY DAY! The day everything changed. Then I'd wake up the next day and do the same damn thing again.
It took a lot of years of wasted Today's. When I finally got so big and so miserable that I couldn't NOT change, is when I dedicated myself to REAL SUSTAINABLE lifestyle changes. I resolved to never do anything again that I couldn't do for the rest of my life. All the fad diets, the pills, the injections. All. The. Wasted. Time.
I look back twenty years ago and think "I could've done this then." But I didn't know. I couldn't. Heck, maybe it took feeling like I was dying and being responsible for a small, helpless human to finally wake me up and maybe I couldn't have done it a day sooner.
But maybe, JUST MAYBE you're at the brink of an awakening and I can share the knowledge I've gained and draw you out of tomorrow and into today. This moment. Right now.
"But it's the middle of the day, I can't start now."....yes, you can.
"But, it's a Wednesday, I can't start in the middle of the week."...yes, you can.
"But, it's my birthday and I can't start when I'm about to have birthday cake.".....errrmmmm, yes you can!
That's the cool thing about all of this. You can ditch the notion of you waking up tomorrow as a warrior who loves exercise and hates birthday cake. I promise you, this coming Monday is not your day, my friend. Today is. You are who you are and this is the youngest you will ever be! Your twenty-years-from-now self will look back on this moment and think, "That's when things started to change, I remember." Or, your twenty-years-from-now self will look back and think, "Why couldn't I have just done SOMETHING then? Where would I be by now?"
So, if I've managed to inspire you, please do me a favorite...don't start thinking about your friend Judy on Facebook who lost 25 pounds drinking those shakes she's always selling now....I promise you, Judy will almost definitely NOT be touting the miracle benefits of said shake a year from now.
Instead, do something different RIGHT NOW. Anything. Drink 4 ounces of water, stand up and do ten jumping jacks. Cause here's a secret about change: the more things you change, the easier it becomes to change!
There's really interesting science behind this as well. In one of my favorite books on change titled The Power of Habit, they discuss how anything that breaks you out of the loops that are your habits, starts to break up the very foundation on which ALL of your habits are built.
Let's look at an example: Every day when you get off of work, you grab some cookies and sit down in front of the television. One day you decide you're not going to eat cookies and you're doing totally fine until....you sit down in front of the t.v. Suddenly all you can think about are those dang cookies. The problem is that we are creatures of habits. We like loops. A recovering drug addict will often be advised to avoid old haunts, friends they did drugs with, and they'll sometimes even be advised to start over in a new town. Why? Because there are so many potential triggers in their old life that will cause their mind and even their body to crave that familiar loop.
So, no, you don't have to leave town to stop eating cookies. But maybe stop sitting down in front of the t.v. Or maybe even just rearranging the furniture in the room in which you watch t.v. will help to disrupt that loop. Or if you just can't resist t.v. time, switch to some other habit you do when you watch t.v. Or if you absolutely can't live without your cookie routine...switch to a cookie you don't like as much and therefore, you won't eat as many.
Preferably cookies with cleaner, less processed ingredients, but not necessary at this point.
Surprised that a weight loss coach just suggested you keep eating the cookies?
Don't be. If you haven't figured it out, I'm not the screaming, militant trainer who is trying to give you chiseled...chiseled anything. I am trying to give you a better life. Period. I'm looking long haul here.
And we can take tiny little baby steps to get there. In fact, we SHOULD take tiny steps. Because, the flip side of humans liking the soothing loop of habits, we comfort-seeking-creatures often violently recoil from big, drastic change. Why? Well, from an evolutionary standpoint, change would have often meant death. We ate a berry we've never eaten before and the berry is poisonous and kills us. We ventured into a terrain to which we'd never been and we got eaten by a predator. You get the idea. When you don't sit down in front of the t.v. and eat those cookies, your primordial brain gets reeeallly uncomfortable.
So sneak up on it. Switch out little things when it's not looking. More than likely, if you haven't been exercising at all, your brain is going to absolutely recoil from a hardcore daily routine. But maybe your brain would be okay with a ten minute, easy walk where you soak in the sunshine and take deep breaths. If you're in your 40's and still eating the diet of a toddler, you're probably not going to eat all those vegetables you just bought at the grocery store. You know, the ones you were planning to eat when you woke up Monday morning a completely different animal. You'll still be you. But maybe you could sneak in a single serving of veggies in just one meal a day. Maybe slide it into a sandwich or literally stuff a couple pieces of broccoli into your mouth and chase it down with some chicken nuggets.
The extremist in us wants to instantly reject this notion of making such tiny changes. But I challenge you to challenge yourself. How many times did you think that you were about to have some big movie montage moment and change everything? And how many times did that work out? I'm guessing none. If I'm wrong, call me. I need to pick your brain...truth be known, I'm still holding out hope for my own montage moment.
In the meantime, for the rest of us, sprinkling in tiny change today will slowly and gently begin to shake up the foundation of our habits. We will discover new things that we love. We will create new, healthier loops that our bodies and brains crave. Little changes today creates the primer for tomorrow's bigger changes.
And one day, you'll realize you're different and you'll think back to today and realize that, while it didn't happen in some immediate, dramatic way, that TODAY was the day you changed.