The start of September is always an interesting time in my job. Not just all the new clients and courses, but also the renewed resolve and new goals from existing clients. So many of us, quite rightly, take a bit of time out of the summer. Time away from the usual routine and hectic schedules, which usually also means a much more ‘informal’ (as Mary Berry would say) approach to exercise and nutrition.

For many that means no exercise at all and a summer feast! Which almost inevitably leads to the autumn famine mentality…all those restrictions and rules that you must now apply to your life in order to make up for the sins of the summer.

It’s like a punishment that must be endured. But the problem is that punishment is normally just that – it’s dull, restrictive and not a lot of fun. At all.

It’s a long list of ‘shoulds’ that don’t necessarily even relate to whatever goal you have in mind. Or, it’s ultimately so overwhelming that it falls flat within the first couple of weeks. Which, in turn makes you feel bad about your ‘lack of willpower’ and convinces you that you’re not really capable of change.

How is anyone likely to succeed under that kind of pressure?!!!

Yet, every time we do it, we convince ourselves this time it will be different. This time, somehow, we will succeed, even though we probably haven’t changed our approach at all. Like Einstein said, doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity.

So, what’s the answer? It’s all about making small, manageable changes. But importantly, ones that relate to whatever goal it is you’re trying to achieve. This isn’t often an attractive option because it means the rate of change will be slower. But when you think about it, would you rather try and change everything at once, get bored, fall of the wagon, do it again, get bored, fall off the wagon, etc. etc. and end up by the new year (after your next feast) feeling exactly the same as you did at the start?

OR would you rather make one small change, create a habit out of it, then make another small change a couple of weeks later and make a habit out of it, so that by the time you get to the new year you have some brilliant new, healthy habits and can enjoy Christmas and everything that comes with it at the same time?

So, if you’re a feast of famine type, stop being lured by the magical promise of the quick fix, and this time really take matters under your control. Our brains are fantastic things, but when it comes to change, they really don’t like to be overwhelmed. This week, choose just one thing and work on it until its a habit, then move onto the next.

For example, some of the homework I’ve given my clients and groups this week includes:

  • Eat 4 meals a day (because we needed to work on her picking at sugary things throughout the day)
  • Eat protein for breakfast (one of my absolute favourite bits of homework!)
  • Do one exercise session before I see you again
  • Choose one thing that you can do to look after yourself over the next week, and do it, and choose one thing that is causing you stress and work out a way of reducing that load, getting rid of it altogether or delegating it.
  • Make half an hour to plan your meals for the next week

It’s all totally manageable stuff, but by my reckoning, by focusing on just one or two things, you will end up doing more or better than you did the week before. And if you can keep doing that consistently, I can absolutely promise that by the end of the year you’ll feel like a new woman!