Sustainable Habits – Lasting ChangeBy: Emily Parsons, Pn1
I know you’ve heard the phrase ‘It’s not a diet- it’s a lifestyle.’ Or, ‘It’s not a diet, it’s not a phase, it’s a permanent change.’ At a whole, I agree with these sayings and know the importance of a healthy lifestyle for myself, and the clients I work with. However, while I know that true health doesn’t come in phases or yo-yo up and down, it’s intimidating to think that in order to create lasting change I have to uproot my whole current lifestyle in exchange for this new, ‘healthy’ way. So does that mean I need to change everything today-, right this very minute? No more sugar. Cut down those carbs. See ya later evil processed foods. Any drink other than water? Forget it. This is the ‘new, healthy me’ and this is here to STAY.
That sounds simple enough- just avoid the ‘bad’ things and only opt for the ‘good’ things. Because this is my ‘healthy lifestyle’ and I will L-O-V-E it no matter what. But what happens when Friday rolls around and my co-workers want to go out for happy hour? Or, it’s a holiday weekend and my dad is bringing over my favorite homemade ice cream to our family gathering on the lake? Or, it’s my best friends birthday and she wants to celebrate at the best pizza place in town? The truth is, trying to simply switch your whole lifestyle, pumping yourself up to deny your taste buds, convincing yourself you really like that trendy organic vegan restaurant, or cutting out an entire macronutrient group (carbs, fats, proteins) all at once simply doesn’t work for the long-term ‘healthy lifestyle’ game plan. In order to create true, lasting change we have to work on building new habits, one at a time. I get it- this isn’t a process that’s really glamorous, and rarely touts incredibly rapid results. However, I also know that this is the main missing link between ‘temporary diet’ and ‘healthy lifestyle.’
When I meet with clients for the first time we always address their goals. Whether it’s a college football player looking to put on lean mass, or a mom in her 50s looking to ‘get rid of this belly’, they almost always have a number in mind they are looking to hit—and they can’t wait for the magical plan I’m going to give them to get there. Which is why they are usually surprised when I tell them not to worry about the numbers this week and just focus on simply swapping out their snack for something higher in protein, or getting in a full serving of veggies at every meal. I’ll get a response like ‘Wait, so I still have to cut carbs, eliminate sugar and avoid everything that comes out of a box, right?’ It’s hard to feel like we are actually going to make progress without a massive change. But through a little coaching on my part and a little trust on their part somehow those goals that seemed like they were up on a mountain begin to come within reach- and, more importantly, are actually here to STAY.
So, are you ready to step away from the numbers and start focusing on habits one at a time to create true, lasting change? Then check out some of my top habits I have clients start with below. And if you’re really ready to take it to the next level with guidance and accountability, consider setting up a free nutrition consultation.
1. DRINK MORE WATER– Up to 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated. No surprise, that throws off our hunger cues and never allows our body to perform optimally. Invest in a water bottle you like and aim for getting half of your body weight in ounces of water (i.e. 150lb person should drink 75 oz. water)
2. SLOW DOWN YOUR EATING– It takes at least 15 minutes for your stomach and brain to connect on your level of satiety. Sit down, thoroughly chew, drink water in between bites and give it some time before you go for round two.
3. AIM TO HAVE A VEGGIE ON EVERY PLATE– Veggies are not only full of vitamins, minerals and all kinds of goodness-,but they are also naturally more filling- so maybe you’ll need a little less of that mac n’ cheese.
4. PREP FOR SUCCESS– Creating a new habit or switching up a meal doesn’t start when you go in the pantry; it starts when you’re at the grocery store the day before. Try writing a list before you go so when it’s breakfast time your ready to roll with something new instead of grabbing the same box of cereal.
5. IDENTIFY THE BALANCE– Make sure you know what a quality meal looks like for you and ask yourself ‘Do I have a protein, veggie and quality carb on my plate?’