Guidelines are magical.
Making changes is about resilience and being able to bounce back into your goals. Having a rigid structure can be too brittle and have the propensity to break.
Now. Everything has a time and a place. Sometimes it makes perfect sense to be on a really, really, strict program like the the Whole 30 so you can actually FEEL a drastic difference. Having a clear cut program in this scenario can be super beneficial.
Also. Willpower. It is a real thing and we have it in limited supply. If you can make something a habit - i.e. I NEVER EAT BREAD - then it doesn't have to play on your willpower stores and you can use that resource for a more challenging situation later on!
My point is that rigid has a time and place.
Always being rigid often (not always) leads to a bad time. A time of going into completely the opposite direction and then feeling like crap because you did.
They allow you to stay on the rails, but not so strictly on the rails it becomes painful, fragile, and breakable.
What I love is a simple card system.
Take an index card.
Add a grid to it.
Select what you'd like to keep track of - this could be things you either want or don't want to do.
For example: No Grains, No Dairy, or Meditate, Clean, etc.
You choose what makes sense for you. Give yourself a check or an X every time you do or don't do the thing. It is super lightweight - no need to log detailed calories, macro-nutrient ratios, weights, etc. (which all have their time and place) this just serves as an easy accountability system.
Will you have that cookie in the breakroom?
Then you wouldn't get a check on your card. Your choice.
This is a gentle hand to help keep you in check, but not overly consumed by structure.
Don't be there.
When attempting to shift your life patterns/habits/choices - you can't beat the first rule of self defense.
Just don't be there.
I realize that sometimes we don't have full control over our surroundings, but you can always (and only) control what you can control.
Put time into setting up your environment to support success.
Throw things away.
You got this.
The power is in persistence.
I dropped into my very first CrossFit gym over three years ago. CrossFit wasn't as big then as it is now and I wasn't sure what I was walking into. There was a series of "testing" exercises and eventually I was hanging from a pull-up bar with a band slung around the bar and my foot. The trainer was yelling PULLLLL!
So. I did. Nothing happened.
She went and got a bigger, thicker, industrial looking band, and I shoved my foot into it and again PULLLLLLED!
At this point the trainer called over another trainer, pointed at me and said "I think something is wrong with her." She didn't mean it as awful as it sounds. She just didn't get it. I was so very disconnected from everything in my back. I didn't know how to turn-on or "fire" anything.
Fast forward to now, three years later and...
Today I did my first pull-up from a dead hang. And then I did two more.
WTF! I am not BROKEN!
It felt amazing. Ah.Maz.Ing.
The journey to get here... eh... not so amazing. But I want to point out what worked and what didn't and why small consistent things are awesome.
1) You gotta chose the thing you want.
2) You gotta do it.
3) You gotta bare with the frustration.
4) You gotta do it.
5) You gotta do it.
When I say - you gotta chose the thing you want what I mean is there are SO MANY THINGS to get good at or better at or to work toward or to do every day. It can be overwhelming so Step 1 is to be selective. Choose your focus.
The doing it is obvious, but not easy. My trainer in Michigan who I see about three times a year ALWAYS tells me to just "work on it", "hang from the bar", "do negatives" - NEGATIVES for days!!! And I was like YEA I get that and I would do that, but then I'd see him in a few months and not have a ton of progress.
Because I'd get distracted.
Because the gains were small.
Because it was frustrating.
BUT THEN. Something simple happened. My trainer here in Seattle was doing her own pull-up progression a basic ladder designed by Pavel. There is nothing magic in this (well there kinda is, but that isn't the point) there IS magic in me WRITING IT DOWN and putting it near my pull-up bar.
I wrote the whole thing out on stickies and hung a pen. This simple act kept me compliant, focused, and consistent.
And it worked.
What can you break down, write down, and achieve?
You are all gems.
I am a big fan of habits. Small shifts for lasting change = my jam. Time goes by too fast and it is easy to get lost and not accomplish what you set out to do.
This is why a habit is a beautiful thing.
Once it is established it takes no willpower (a valuable resource) to complete.
The most impactful habit I built in 2013 was a practice around gratitude. Gratitude is cool because it helps you look at the world differently. I think it gives me space to be less reactive, to be able to handle stress better, and to enjoy life more.
All it took was a few minutes a day.
I put a journal and pen on my dresser right next to my bed. Every night before I went to bed I wrote down 3 things I was grateful for - they could be big or small, general or specific, it didn't matter. The point was that I did it, that I wrote it down, that I was consistent. I liked doing it at night because even if I had a crappy day I could find something that went right like a beautiful sky - that I was breathing - my internet connection - anything really.
Try it out, see if you notice a change. A habit doesn't need to be big to be effective, it just needs to be consistent.