A scaffold is a structure that elevates and supports workers and materials to repair a building or machine. The term has been borrowed by educators to refer to breaking learning material into manageable chunks and creating a tool or structure to support learning each piece.
When thinking about lifestyle changes and goals, this can be a helpful concept to borrow. Business leaders often refer to SMART goals. The acronym, which stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely, was developed in 1981 by George Doran, Arthur Miller, and James Cunningham to help managers and employees plan and manage projects within the business world. It has proven to be an effective tool when it comes to thinking about goals. If a goal is vague, it can be difficult to find the motivation necessary to achieve it. For example, “I want to lose weight,” is a vague goal. “I want to lose five pounds this month,” however, is a far more specific goal. It has a deadline and a solid, measurable number. It is realistic and attainable—most weight loss experts state that it is reasonable and safe to lose 1-2 pounds per week. It allows for direct action to be measured for its efficiency. If you make a few changes and lose a pound over the course of the week, you have feedback that lets you know you are on track. If you make a few changes but don’t see those results, you have the feedback to know you need to try something different.
This is where scaffolding can help support your goals. Once you have your goals in place, it is time to think about what structures you can create in order to meet those objectives. If it is your goal to lose 5 pounds in one month, you can think about what structures or routines can be changed to facilitate that process. You may choose to focus on getting more sleep, on choosing only water as your beverage, on adding an extra 3000 steps to your day, on building strength with bodyweight exercises, on focusing on nutrition by packing lunches or selecting only one night a week to order takeout, instead of several, or another “first step.” Then you can think about what you need to put in place to make those things happen.
Structures can be patterns or routines (like doing 20 pushups against the bathroom wall after going to the bathroom in the morning), changing the physical location of something (like putting all snacks in a closed cupboard rather than at eye level on an open shelf or like putting your alarm away from the bed so you have to physically get up in order to turn it off), accountability from someone else (making plans to meet for a walk, taking a class, or scheduling a check-in phone call), setting things up for success (like laying out workout clothes the night before or having a full glass of water on the bedside stand to drink upon waking), or any other way that you can change one small thing to make it easier to make a choice that furthers your goals. Breaking a large goal into smaller, more manageable chunks can help you stay motivated and on track.
If you want to get more sleep, you can start by setting a consistent bedtime and wake time for the week. You can use an app to remind you about when that time is approaching, so you begin your wind-down routine.
If you want to increase your step count by 3000 steps per day, perhaps you can choose a new parking spot, farther away, or use the stairs each day instead of the elevator. Perhaps you walk the dog with your child, or take a walk after supper instead of watching something. Or perhaps you put your viewing device in front of your treadmill and walk while you watch. You could go outside and walk during your lunch break. You could get up a half hour earlier and walk.
If you’d like to switch to only water for a beverage, you might buy yourself a good water bottle. You might change your route to lunch to avoid passing the vending machines, or leave your handful of change at home. You might stop buying juice, soda, or other sweetened beverages at the grocery store so they aren’t even in the house. You might buy gas at the pump rather than walk into the gas station. You might give yourself a weekend to deal with caffeine withdrawal rather than starting on a Monday. You might start with replacing your beverages with water one meal at a time—only water at breakfast the first week, breakfast and lunch the second week, all three meals the third week, and only drinking water at all the fourth week.
Scaffolding takes into account where a student begins, what challenges they might face and what structures or tools can help them be successful as they face them, and where they want to end up. It can be helpful with lifestyle changes to take the same approach. Take stock of where you are and where you want to be. Identify some of the challenges and come up with creative structures to help you face them. This is where one-on-one support can be helpful. At TruBalance, our weight loss experts are here to help you be successful. They provide creative solutions, support, and accountability to help you achieve your goals. All of our TruBalance offices are equipped for virtual appointments and our Little Rock office can see you in person. Additionally, Dr. Kiernan’s e-cookbook, Eating on Purpose, is a resource full of delicious recipes and also foundational health tips about sleep, movement, hydration, stress management, and nutrition. When you know better, you can do better. Just as good health is a combination of many factors, there are many areas of health that can be your “first step,” and taking one step in any one of them can lead to the next stage in your journey to health and vitality. Call 501-404-2024 and one of our TruBalance associates will help you.