I’m constantly being asked questions like…
“Where do you get your motivation?”
“Where do you get your energy from?”
Or being posed with statements like….
“You must have great determination?!”
“I’d love to have your willpower…”
As I’ve started seeing clients as a health and nutrition coach the most common hurdle people seem to face (at least that I’ve come across to date!) is sticking with the healthy changes they make. They’ve had great success here and there in the past but over the long term they went back to their no exercising, sugar laden, take away dialling ways of life. The vicious roller-coaster cycle of binging (to various different extents), addictions, restrictions and the one we most commonly here “dieting”. When I hear of people on “diets” it actually gives me a little shiver up my spine. My torturous relationship with food and my body began with a “diet” for which I got praise initially until it started to affect every aspect of my mental and physical health and had clearly become a serious problem.
I’m by no means saying everyone that starts a “diet” is going to end up with an eating disorder, at least not in the medically defined sense but it’s a sure fire way to strap yourself in to the never ending twisting turning stomach churning ride that will be your life.
The vast majority of people want to improve their health, would rather be eating healthy food, feeling energised and enthused about life, exercise and everything in between as well as improving their prospects of avoiding pain and disease in later life. It’s just how to achieve it and stick with in the long term that acts as a little blockade. My job is to help people climb over it!
A big part of it is changing your mindset…instead of focusing on weight and image, calories and calorie burning, low fat and no fat, ready meals and packaged foods and a short term fix you simply need to have one single focus….improving your health! It’s that easy…those here’s a few of my top tips for breaking that down in to more practical actions!
Top 10 Tips for Creating and Sticking to a Healthier Lifestyle!
1. Simplify…. Rather than focusing on calories, portion sizes, “good and bad foods” simply focus on eating more fresh foods, plants, and a wonderful rainbow of colours. Avoid foods from a packet as much as possible!
2. Whole rather than empty….More often than not people make the leap (most of the time in the wrong direction) from eating monumental amounts of calorie dense food, to equally processed severely restricted low calorie food… They’re body and minds go in to shock, with even less nutritional goodness than before, less energy overall and a feeling of pure deprivation, of course you’re going to crave everything you’ve cut out! In truth you can actually eat a lot more food, nutritionally dense, energising and truly satisfying. Another way to look at simplifying your approach is to think “whole”…foods that offer an array of vitamins and minerals that have minimally processed and ideally for the most part not at all!
3. Ditch that scales….this post says it all!
4. Set realistic goals…Whatever changes you choose to make they should fit in with your lifestyle or you have to realistically be willing to change it, and not just in the short term.
5. Baby steps…every step in the right direction is a positive one. You might decide you want to go vegan/plant based but simply waking up tomorrow morning and doing it is another story all together. It’s ok to ease in to the new way of life. You want to create lasting habits, changing your tastebuds as you do so! Change one thing at at time, be it one a day, one a week, or make it two…whatever you think you can handle…REALISTICALLY!
6. Take pen to paper….Writing down your goals, creating the steps to achieve them over a given period of time, and having it set not only in your mind but on paper will help put everything in to perspective. It’s a quick way to check back on your progress, ensure you’re continually moving in the right direction and can act as a means of encouragement by having it somewhere you’ll see it every day.
7. Go easy on yourself…if you have a little “slip up” not matter how big or small don’t give up. If you have lots of slips ups don’t give up either! No one said it was going to be easy to change your diet, your life, your mindset..if it was everyone would do it, but it will be worth it in the long term. Indulging in a slice of your favourite cake, a frothy cappucino, whatever your “tipple” you need to either find realistic replacements which will get easier as your palate changes, or find ways to incorporate them in to your new way of life without them causing you to go too far in the wrong direction. It really is all about balance, it’s just about ensuring that balance is defined correctly.
8. Be open and stand your ground…tell your friends and family what your doing, ask them not to try and tempt you back in to your old habits and if at all possible avoid spending too much time with people that you know will until you’ve properly established your healthier habits and feel stronger saying no.
9. A new way of life not a destination… be it in relation to fitness, health or what you choose to eat..although they are all important and intertwined, try not to make your goals final. Just like happiness, health and fitness are ways of life, a lifelong journey rather than something that you can achieve. You can always be healthier, always be fitter, and always be happier; it’s something to be embraced, a means to constantly challenge yourself and ensure you never loose your fighting spirit. Many people ask me what I’m training for…
Although a little blunt it’s perfectly true!
10. Throw away the rule book…everything you ever learned about so called healthy eating is likely to have fuelled and funded by some corporation trying to sell you a product to help you achieve “health success” at a rate of knots. From no fat, low carb, high protein, meal replacement options, low fat, sugar free, eating your five a day, milk being the key to healthy bones…not eating after a certain time of day, no snacks, mini meals….we’re all individuals, what works for one person might not work for another. Trust yourself, your body, your mind and let your healthy habits become your own rather than something you’ve been pressurised directly or subconsciously to feel you have to do in order to truly be or feel healthy.
When you create new healthy eating and living habits you will honestly feel more energised. Give it a few weeks, preserver and you’ll hopefully feel so incredible it will be your motivation for sticking with it. It’s this lack of feeling and looking better in your body and mind that typical “dieters” tend to lack. You feel elated at having lost pounds but lack of variety, empty calories (highly processed, fat free, sugar free, chemically laden foods) will eventually lead you feeling depleted and on a fast road to slipping in to old habits.
What are some of your top tips for sticking to and creating healthier habits that have worked for you? I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas!