Ready for change: When is the best time to start?
The weekend is finally here, and for some of you, it's a "last hurrah." You're going to eat whatever you want today, celebrate with friends tonight, clean out the fridge and pantry by eating all the junk, because on Monday, things will be different. On Monday, you are going to start a diet, start working out, organize your meal prep, and basically become a fitness goddess. Monday, things are going to change.
But is Monday really the best day to start your new plan for a healthier you?
This morning I stumbled across an NBC News article entitled "The Best (and Most Popular) Days to Start a Diet." The article, which was published on January 1, 2018--a Monday--says, "If you're ready to commit to a new health goal, don't put it off until tomorrow... Monday is the best day to start a new diet."
That is no surprise to us. MOST of us like to start over on Mondays. It's the beginning of the work week, we're back into a routine, and it feels like a fresh start. In fact, according to the article, those are the exact reasons why Monday is a good day to start new healthy habits--or really, and new positive habits at all: saving money, keeping the house clean, flossing . . . . By starting on a Monday, we are giving ourselves a clean slate, which feels like a re-invention or a rebirth. We shed those old selves from last week--the ones who skip morning workouts in favor of another hour of sleep, the ones who are too tired and too busy to hit the gym after work, the ones that let themselves take orders from the doughnuts in the break room--and we start the week with new, powerful, rested selves that set the alarm for early workouts and that bravely stroll past the doughnuts, because we are STRONG. We are RECREATED. We are REBORN on Monday.
For these same reasons, the article states, and momentous day can become a good (or popular) day to start a new diet or wellness plan:
First day of the month
New season (spring - swimsuit season, fall - back-to-school, etc.)
Events (Great American Smokeout, Fitness Challenges, etc.)
If you need a significant event or a certain day to give you that feeling of a clean break with your old habits, then that mental boost can help you stay on track. Just make sure you aren't putting off healthy changes you can make now for some elusive day when all conditions will be perfect for success.
I have had people tell me that they were going to wait until the next month to get back on track because at the end of the month, they were going to have out of town guests for a week, and they knew they wouldn't eat or work out according to their goals until after the visitors left. That left three weeks of the month that they weren't going to work on themselves just because, during one week, they weren't going to choose to give it their all.
To me, this is illogical. Why sacrifice three weeks of getting closer to your goals? There will never be a time when you have a month, two months, six months of nothing getting in your way. Start now and work around the obstacles. Do you have guests coming next week? Then eat well and stick to your workout plan this week. When your guests arrive, cook them healthy meals, make healthy choices as take them to restaurants, plan activities that keep you and your guests moving. Or don't. Enjoy a week off before getting back to your goals. Whichever you choose, remember that your actions are your choices--own them. But either way, sacrificing this week because of next week makes no sense.
Most recently, I renewed my focus on my goals on a Saturday. I went to bed Friday night feeling like I had let so much slide. I didn't feel like myself, and I knew I wasn't at my best physically. Instead of waiting for Monday, I wanted to feel "reborn" right away. I woke up Saturday morning determined. Waiting for Monday would have been a mistake. I would have robbed myself of two days of goal-crushing, and there is also a chance I would have lost some of that drive I was feeling.
So what do I find to be the best day to start a program? Whatever day you want to, as long as it is soon. I've had great successes (and great failures) starting on Monday. Same for Sunday, New Year's Day, my birthday, the first day of the month, the first day of school, the last day of school . . . it isn't about the day you start. It is about the effort you put into achieving your goals.
Yes, Monday is a great day to start something new, but so is today. So is right now. It doesn't matter that you had doughnuts and a mocha-choca-latte with extra whipped cream and sprinkles for breakfast. You can still have a healthy lunch and dinner tonight.
When you are ready to make a change, when you are ready to start working toward your fitness goals, there is no time like the present. What are you waiting for?