The decision to become healthy, in particular to eat healthier (what I refer to as "Clean Eating", must be a conscious one, one that you make every day. There is some effort and willpower involved! In order to keep your commitment to this self-care decision, you need to do some self-analysis to identify what your weaknesses are and what the underlying causes are of any not-so-healthy behaviors. Doing so will help you understand why you do what you do—and when you do it—and can help you avoid those pitfalls as you journey toward better health. There is an undeniable connection between how you feel mentally/emotionally and how your body feels. Understanding your unique link may be the difference between a successful move to healthy living and another version of yo-yo dieting.
Here are a few things to help prepare your mind and body for the commitment to a healthy lifestyle.
Food is not your enemy, but food should not be a reward either; food is at it's core just fuel, but it is also an undeniable source of pleasure too. So, treating food as a reward is easy to do, but it's a slippery slope... When you start on your journey of healthier eating (i.e. clean eating), you have certain dreams and goals of what you want to achieve. Before binging on a treat for “being good,” ask yourself if the food will help you reach where you want to be or keep you stuck where you do not want to be.
You may be engaging in destructive behaviors and not even know it. I know I have! Many of us make it through life not even recognizing the root cause of our problems. The thing is, you cannot change your bad habits unless you are aware of them. Analyze your day and your routines and try to understand if you are creating habits that will keep you from attaining your wellness goal. Do you stay awake late binging TV shows? Do you eat when you are bored or stressed? Do you lie in bed scrolling on your phone instead of turning in early? Understand what it is that triggers these behaviours... and what makes you feel the way you do when you turn to them so that you can avoid it in the future. Try keeping a written account of your patterns to understand them better. When you take a look at how you spend your day, you may be able to figure out what it is that you like about it and what it is that you do not.
At times, we all have instincts that tell us one thing while we may be feeling another. (Like when I know I should go for a walk, but I feel like I want the cookie instead.) These mixed up signals confuse what we really want with a substitute that seems more achievable, or convenient. Common behaviours I see in my patients are avoiding our emotions or relaxing in ways that have short-term benefits, but hold them back in the long term. Maybe this is you too? Before you give into that next impulse that may not be completely in line with your new goals, try asking yourself if the cookie (or whatever it may be) is what you really want right now, or if the unhealthy behavior you are motivated to do will actually help you be who you want to be.
As someone who works hard and takes a lot of pride and satisfaction in the quality of my work, I admit, this one is hard for me too... Here's the thing though - perfection is a pipedream. It only results in disappointment and self-doubt, because you can never "get there". Perfection is not what matters - progress is! What matters is the little victories. If we ignore all the little times in which we do manage to succeed, we will always be dissatisfied with ourselves. Give yourself the gift of celebrating each milestone, no matter how little it may seem!
This does not mean meal planning for weeks and weeks ahead; on any given day you just need to know what your next meal will be. This will help you plan for what you want to have instead of grabbing a meal of convenience that you will regret later.
As always, I hope this article has served/helped you... but information without action is not helping you achieve your goals. Now it's time to take action. This Thursday, (October 11, 2018) I will be delivering a webinar entitled "How Clean Eating Will Change Your Life". It's from 7-8pm NST (5:30pm EST). If healthier, cleaner eating is a change you want to make for yourself, sign up! I'll be sharing all kinds of tips and tricks on how to achieve this goal and sharing some new tools I've created to help you make it happen.
I hope you will join us!
Laura Nurse, BBA, ND
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This self-assessment quiz will help you give yourself a quick, but thorough check-up on your health habits in 8 key health performance areas.