Recently, I have gotten back on the wagon of health. I have spent a lot of my life highly addicted to sugar, and in the not so distant past, found myself 20 lbs overweight. I had never felt so tired, and so sluggish in my life. Currently, I am working out at least 5 days/week, and am eating a much healthier diet. I know what they say about diets: it can't just be a diet, it has to be a lifestyle change. That's absolutely true. Diets come and go, but changing the way you think, changing the way you accomplish your goals, is what is truly going to change your life forever.
Below, I wrote about the 5 things you must have to stick to your diet and exercise:
Have a big enough why
This is really important. Your why, is the underlying reason you are doing any of this in the first place. Do you want to look and feel better? Do you want to be able to wear your favorite dress again, or have more energy? You have to have a reason WHY you're doing it all (in any situation, really). I'll give you an example of my own why. In my family, women don't live very long. I have a blood related aunt and grandmother who only made it to 41, and some of the other women in my family passed away far before their life expectancy. With that knowledge, I feel as though I have to be on top of my health. I can't take my health for granted because, I really don't have the best genetics when it comes to life expectancy. I have to figure out a way to make that better for myself if I want to live a nice, long life. That is my biggest why. But I also want to feel better about myself, have more energy. When you eat badly, you don't even realize how often you have stomach aches. I truly believe that eating well and exercising help cure things like: anxiety, depression, illness, skin issues, and more. Eating well and exercise are the best medicine. So, what is your why? Maybe you have good genes, and the people in your family live long lives. But I'm sure there is some other big why for you. There must be a very good reason to eat well and exercise, I can think of several.
It is so important to prepare for eating well. You aren't going to eat well, if all you have at home are cookies, cakes, ice cream. It's so easy, especially when you're really hungry, sad, tired, to just grab a quick sweet treat, and suddenly all is well (for a minute). You have to prepare by going to the store, and buying things you really love to eat that are good for you. For example, one of my favorite things to eat is pineapple and raspberries. It's so good! I know there are things like that for you that you can really enjoy, you just have to make sure they're in your house. I used to try to convince myself that I had to do all or nothing. So for example, dessert, or no dessert. But what if dessert came in the form of an RX bar. I love those because they are sweetened with dates, and taste delicious. The chocolate, and raspberry are my two favs :)
It can be hard to get started. You might say, well, I'll start next week. Then next week comes, and there's some excuse-well, it's so and so's B-day, and I want to be able to eat cake. I'm making a joke, but not really, because these are some of the things I have done myself. You have to get started. When should you start? I would say immediately after you are done preparing-preparing by going grocery shopping and picking out all of the healthy things you love to eat. Then, when so and sos B-day comes around, you can decide not to have any cake, or you can decide to have a little tiny piece of cake. Portion control also helps. After all, do you want to enjoy the cake for 2 mins or 3 mins? You know what I'm saying? That you can get a smaller piece and still enjoy it, really, for just as long, if you savor it.
Don't overdo at first
Especially if you're a type A person, you may try to start by overdoing. “Well, I've got 50 lbs to lose, so I'm going to fast for 10 days.” I don't have anything against fasting, I think it can be great in certain situations, but my point here is that there's this tendency to think that you have to overdo to make up for all the time you were off track a little. Instead, what is much more effective, is to do what IS doable for you, right now, and get started. Instead of saying, well, I just can't afford a gym membership, or I want to get onto one of those meal programs, but I just can't afford it. Or saying, I need to get to the gym for one hour, 7 days a week, or else it's not even worth it. These are over dos, and they're also excuses. Isn't 15minutes of walking/day better than not doing anything at all? Isn't eating smaller portions or much healthier foods all year, better than 10 days of fasting? Yes, slow and steady wins the race. I'm not saying DON'T go to the gym for an hour, I think that's great if you do. However what I'm saying is don't let it be an excuse that you have to do everything now, all at once, or it just won't work, and you don't have the time, the money, or the energy. Okay, then start small. Everyone has 15 minutes a day. After all, that 15 minutes will allow you to have more energy to be awake, be present, and healthy. You will find your days feel like they are longer, in a good way. Suddenly there's more time to do the things you want to accomplish because you have the energy to do them.
This is a very important part of eating healthy and exercising. What you say to yourself. If I say things like, “I'm too fat, and it would be embarrassing to go to the gym.” or “I just can't seem to stop eating sweets. I'll just have a few more.” These are not empowering statements. You have to talk yourself into doing the right thing for yourself. Even saying, “Great, I just ate a big piece of cake. I feel awful, but I might as well go off my diet and start again next time.” That's not helpful. It doesn't work to beat yourself up for “doing something wrong.” What I would advise, is in that moment, stop for a second and think to yourself, “Did I really enjoy that? Did it hurt my stomach? How do I feel right now?” Because that is stopping to just take inventory. The answers may be very telling. “No, I didn't enjoy that, I just wolfed it down. I barely tasted it.” Or “Yes, now my stomach hurts, I feel bloated, and a little icky.” Or “I don't feel great because I feel like I broke a commitment to myself.” And it is okay to allow yourself the wiggle room to be able to enjoy life a little bit more. But if eating food is a constant go to, if you're eating to feel comforted, to give you something to do if you're bored, to fill any kind of void, that's where it's going to cause challenges. So, the next time, what may benefit you, if for example you ate a piece of cake even though your new healthy lifestyle says no cake. Instead of saying, “that was stupid. I shouldn't have done that.” Try your hardest to say things to yourself that are helpful. “I did have that piece, but the rest of the day I did really well, and tomorrow will be even better.” When you are successful at something, it is because you are telling yourself that you will be successful. I love the analogy of a baby learning how to walk. The baby doesn't fall down once and then say, “Well, I failed, I'll never do that again.” No! Babies learn how to walk, and they do fall down. But they get back up because they know that it's worth it to try.
So I challenge you to start. I challenge you to find your why, prepare, get started, don't overdo, and work on positive self-talk. You got this! You can do it!