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Why you can’t seem to sustain your changes

Sustaining change

When it comes to health, many people declare that they are finally going to make their own health a priority and make some changes. And things usually start off so well. But, despite the best of intentions and great knowledge, it doesn’t always last and many people return to some of their less supportive habits. Have you ever wondered why?

Something that I love to explore is why we do what we do, even though we know what we know. There is so much gold in understanding what is really driving our choices because, with such insight, it becomes much easier for us to make sustainable changes that support our health. So, let’s look at a few common reasons why you might struggle to put your knowledge into practice and what you can do to help.

You haven’t reflected on your ‘why’

It’s natural for change to feel difficult or uncomfortable at first, so connecting the change you want to make with your ‘why’ is so important. Take some time to reflect on this and perhaps use a journal to capture your thoughts. Think about what you are really wanting to achieve and what this change will mean for you. How does this change link with your values? Where will you be in a year’s time if you make this change? Where will you be if you don’t? It can be helpful to revisit this during those extra challenging days.

You’re all in (or all out)

When we’re super motivated to start the year off well, it can be tempting to try to overhaul everything in our life at once. But if we’re not able to sustain it all we can often feel like we’ve failed and have to ‘start again’. Commit to one or two small changes first, and then go from there. Small, incremental changes can add up over time to make an enormous difference to our health. One exception to this though is with sugar consumption. Sustained change is more likely when we cut it out thoroughly for six weeks, before contemplating any potential minor reintroductions. 

Your benefits outweigh your drawbacks

Sometimes your benefits for staying the way you are unconsciously outweigh your drawbacks. In other words, somewhere in your brain you have more reasons not to change than you do to change. Or perhaps some reasons carry more weight than others. For example, if your health and wellbeing isn’t high enough on your priority list, you won’t truly value investing your time, energy and resources into bringing about change. So you will more easily fall back into habits that don’t support your health because other things will continue to be of a higher priority for you. Sometimes, your list of drawbacks – or the weight of those drawbacks – needs to grow.

Your measures of success aren’t supportive

When we’re making changes, we tend to want some way of tracking our progress. The problem is, if we only focus on one specific measure – a good example here is total body weight – it can be easy to think that what we’re doing isn’t working if we don’t see this one measure change in the way we were hoping right away. Yet, there could be other changes happening that indicate that what we’re doing is incredibly beneficial, such as improved energy, a clear complexion, a more even mood, clearer thinking, better digestion… the list goes on! Focus on how you are feeling and celebrate all of the wins along the way.


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