This blog is for you if you know you need to make some changes and take some action to help you through menopause but you feel overwhelmed, can’t seem to get motivated to do it or have tried to make change and failed.
The life overhaul trap
At the end of my most recent coaching session my client said to me, ‘Gosh, I feel I can actually do that. I thought you were going to give me a long list of things I needed to do to change my life.’ And that’s the trap we often fall into, thinking that there is so much we need to change that it feels impossible. We don’t know where to start. It feels hard and unachievable. Ultimately we end up frozen and not doing any of it!
Change is important
Menopause is known as ‘the change’ and I do think it is a time when we have to make changes. We’re entering a new phase of life. We can feel different, mentally and physically. For around 75 per cent of women there are menopause symptoms that are interfering with daily life, addressing and minimising these requires action and change. When you’re struggling with all life and menopause is throwing you, whether it’s family issues, career, relationships, fatigue, your identity and more, a life overhaul feels particularly unachievable. How can you find the mental and physical capacity, time and energy to do that? Yet, this is a time when it’s so important to make changes to help you through the menopause and to set yourself up for a healthy future.
Different ways to change
Perhaps when you’ve made changes before, you’ve approached them with an ‘all or nothing’ mentality and literally woken up the next day and changed everything. Maybe you were really successful. There are some people this will work for but for the majority that’s too hard to sustain for any length of time. You give up, feel like a failure and are reluctant to begin again.
What’s the alternative? Choosing something very small that you know you can do. Something that won’t take too much time, effort or energy. And doing it over and over again.
The power of small actions
It’s crucial to know that even the smallest of steps can make a big difference to your long term health. Take a moment to consider what can result from small actions:
• If you save £1 per day you will have £365 by the end of the year (more if you can find somewhere with any kind of interest rate!)
• If you do ten squats a day you will have done 3650 by the end of the year.
• If you stand for one hour a day at work, for five days a week ,you will have stood for an extra 260 hours in a year which is almost 11 days.
• If you can walk for an extra 5 minutes each day you will have covered over 100 miles in a year.
At the time it may feel like nothing. I mean, what’s the point in doing five squats every time I boil the kettle or standing on one leg while I brush my teeth every night? The truth is, that one action doesn’t in itself do much but the act of making it a habit means that you do it over and over again and those actions combined have a huge impact.
‘Great things are done by a series of small things brought together’Vincent Van Gogh
If you’re beating yourself up at not being able to stick to your new fitness or nutrition regime, then stop. Change is hard. Take a step back. Use my SCA framework. Choose one single thing you could take from your plan. Make it Simple, make it Convenient and Acknowledge it when you’ve done it. Just do that. Every single day.
Change that’s failing: You’ve set yourself a twenty-minute home weights work out twice a week and haven’t done it for weeks.
Simple: Decide that you’re going to do ten biceps curls and ten triceps dips (which will take approximately one minute) once a day.
Convenient: Where can you leave the weights that means all you have to do is pick them up? By your bed? Near your toothbrush?
Acknowledge it: Praise yourself. That’s twenty arm exercises you wouldn’t otherwise have done. Put a tick on a piece of paper, carve a notch into the door frame, whatever works for you but note your progress somewhere so you can see all your actions adding up.
Building on a habit
When that habit is established, it’s easy to see how you can extend it. You could do it twice a day or add an extra exercise to it. Or not, if it’s working, you could leave it as it is and pick another small action.
These are changes for life. There is time to build on them. The most important thing is that what you do fits with your life and is sustainable. Don’t be overwhelmed by the idea of a life overhaul, just make one tiny change and do it over and over again.