I didn’t really intend this, but I have spent the past month speaking to resolutions. It is January afterall! First I said what not to do (dieting/restriction), then I gave some practical advice on how to achieve a goal (planning, awareness, tools, action) and now I would like to give you some real steps to eating healthier in this wonderful new year.
I always say that achieving a certain body composition or physique is based 90% on your nutrition. You can workout until the cows come home, but if you’re eating like crap or not eating enough, health is always going to feel just outside your grasp. I felt like a real buzzkill a few weeks ago when I preached that diets basically SUCK. I have a feeling this might have felt defeating for some of you out there. I want to be very clear that I absolutely advocate eating healthier. I just don’t believe that is synonymous with dieting.
In fact, I believe the exact opposite...that adding foods, instead of subtracting foods, is what will help you reach your healthiest self. Yes, I want you to eat MORE. Instead of listing “bad foods” for my clients or coming up with strict meal plans or giving certain calories to stay under, I focus on getting those I work with to reach certain nutritional goals. There is something so empowering about helping my clients work to eat 130+ grams of protein per day or help them strive to consume at least 25 grams of fiber. Almost all of my clients start to notice how filling up on lean proteins and fibrous veggies/grains makes them feel so much better. They thrive when working towards achieving better nutrition.
And I want you to THRIVE too!
Here are ten habits you can integrate into your life so that you are stepping out of the cycle of dieting, focus on better nutrition (please note I did not say perfect nutrition...ain’t no such thing) and reaching your goal of a healthier you.
1. Eat slowly.
Sit down. Turn off any distractions. Take a slow bite of food. Close your eyes if you need to be able to focus. Really taste that bite. Slowly repeat.
2. Don’t feel the need to clean your plate.
I always tell my clients to eat until they are 80% full. Sometimes that means leaving your plate 20% full. And that is OKAY. You are not eight and your mom is not going to scold you. Plus, leftovers are like the best ever.
3. Strive for 1/4 plate protein, 1/2 plate veggies, 1/4 starchy carbs.
Don’t complicate things. Protein, veggies, starchy carbs and you can’t go wrong.
4. Slowly remove and replace certain foods.
The main word here is sloooooooowly. If you have a venti Starbucks froo froo latte in the morning. Switch to a grande one week. Then a tall. Then focus on the contents. Maybe switch from two pumps to one. Then start to lessen the sweetener. Maybe, lastly, switch to a regular coffee and you control the cream and sugar. This could be a two month (or more!) process but it is the slow changes that are the most sustainable. Slooooooow and steady wins the race when it comes to nutritional changes!
5. Clean out your pantry.
Get the junk food out of your house. If you can’t control yourself around Doritos, then you need to remove the Doritos from your environment. Period.
6. Don’t do in a day what you wouldn’t do in a week.
And don’t do in a week what you wouldn’t want to do in a month. And don’t do in a month what you wouldn’t want to do in a year. My biggest beef with diets is that they are not sustainable. It isn’t realistic to replace two meals a day with shakes for the rest of your life. Sure, that’s just two shakes in a day, but that’s fourteen shakes in a week and at least sixty in a month... you know where I am going with this. Think long game. What do you consistently want to do for a whole year?
7. Factor in setbacks.
Creating any change involves slip-ups, tough days, mistakes, and setbacks. The real change is in how you get back on track. Life always happens and unforeseen setbacks are a part of the process. How you react to them is probably the most vital part of the process.
8. Prepare meals/snacks in advance.
Have the lean proteins prepped and on-hand. Chop up the veggies when you get them home from the grocery store. Pack your lunches in advance. Make a big batch of brown rice or oatmeal. Make healthy choices as easy and seamless as possible by being prepared!
9. Learn how to cook vegetables
This was a biggy for me. Experiment. Broil. Boil. Roast. Eat em raw. Get friendly with veggies. This can only benefit you. “I really regret eating that veggie.” Said no one ever.
10. Focus on your mindset
This is a toughy, but the most worthwhile. Why are you doing what you are doing? Why are you making these changes? Why do you hold yourself back? Why do you give up before you start? Why? Why? Why? Answering these types of questions is not easy but this process helps you meet your challenges better the next time. Asking “why” with open curiosity and not shame will help you achieve any goal you set for yourself.
Now go get ‘em, tiger!