For instance, slimming down or creating peace with food usually involves a lot more than throwing out the junk food, and it typically involves some bumps, hurdles, and challenges. It’s not about getting it perfect, it’s about continuing to imperfectly move forward. Creating any new behavior or routine is something we do over and over again. It becomes more solidified each time we do it and each time we surmount a challenge or a difficulty in sticking with it. Every time we get back on the horse we've fallen off of, the change becomes that much more solid.
Many of my clients come to me after significant periods in their lives when they've walked on the road they want to be on. They may have had periods when they've started to make the change they crave. They were working out regularly or they were losing weight. They had started the novel they wanted to write. They felt in charge of their life and they were on the road to pursuing their particular dream.
And then something happened.
Their focus became less intense. Their routine became less consistent. Something (it's always something) came up. And one day they woke up and realized that the new behavior or routine or change wasn't in place anymore. They were back to doing things the "old way." And now they are feeling defeated and tired and they have a bit (or a lot) less hope then they did before. They may even be feeling guilty and mad at themselves which makes things even harder.
Change is not a one shot deal.
You probably know how it works. You've made a successful change. You feel proud. You feel like celebrating. You've worked really hard and maybe you decide you really don't need to be quite so disciplined anymore. You start to slack off or you loosen the reins a bit. Is this a bad thing? Haven't you earned it? How do you know?
Maintenance is not something that happens automatically–AND maintenance is the stage where all the hard work can pay off, or can start to unravel.
Working at maintenance isn't as dramatic or visibly rewarding as starting something new. Because "maintaining" is the goal, you may not be seeing the motivating external changes or smaller numbers on the scale in the same way you saw them when you began to make a change. You may get so comfortable with the new change that you forget the state that motivated you to change in the first place. It's easy to lose momentum.