Case in point, this entire past year (plus a few months) has wreaked havoc with many of our daily routines, habits and just our daily lives in general. Thankfully rules and restrictions are now minimal and it seems that for the most part things are very close to normal. But what, is normal for people now? Let's take a look from a health perspective.
For some people, having and maintaining healthy routines is and has always been at the top of their list. And come hell or high water, they seem to find a way to stick to the things that work for them. For some people. A very small portion of the population actually. Although I couldn't find any specific numbers on what that might be, I did find that slightly less than one percent of people who start a diet can maintain it for life. Now you all know how I feel about diets being four-letter words, but it just goes to show that the number of people who try to do something healthy, don't tend to stick with it. Honestly, we don't even need numbers. Just jump on social media and see how many people have been complaining of weight gain, mental health issues, stress, anxiety, etc., over this past year and you'll see. So how do we make healthy changes and make them stick. Even through a personal crisis. Even through stressful events. Even through a pandemic. Well, we know that some people can do it. They are doing it. And if one person can do it, anyone can do it.
Creating healthy habits should be seen as something positive. Focusing on all the things you can't or shouldn't have rather than on the things you can and should have is a much healthier outlook, mentally and physically. Humans don't like to be told we can't have/do something. Anyone who has kids can attest to this. Seriously, I don't like to be told I can't do/have something. Realistically though, life can't be a free for all if you want to actually create a healthy body, healthy family, healthy lifestyle. And I think most of us know this. So here's where, knowing how to trick your mind and body into thinking you do have it all, while removing those things that don't align with your health goals, comes in handy.
Experts say good habits can be formed in as little as 18 days, but in some cases, can take over 200 days to stick. Why so long? Simple. Bad habits provide some sort of reward. In the case of health, eating that piece of chocolate cake tastes good. It triggers the pleasure sensors of the brain and makes us feel good. For a moment. And then later we beat ourselves up about not making a healthier choice and the cycle continues. This type of behaviour tends to happen even more when life hits us like a ton of bricks. And I think it's fair to say most of us got hit pretty hard this past year and succumbed to the cake vs the piece of fresh fruit. The trick to avoiding the “let me eat cake” syndrome next time life comes at you – and it will at some point – is to 1. Quit focusing on what you can't/shouldn't have and focus on the options you can/should have to make a good choice. 2. Swap the not-so-healthy options for healthy options that still make you feel good. 3. Prep ahead of time. 4. Take things one percent at a time.
Now that it's summer, focus on all the fresh fruit and veggies and see how many colours you can add to your plate each meal. Food that's visually appealing is naturally more satisfying, makes you smile to look at it, and therefore triggers those same pleasure sensors in the brain. Focus on creating healthy, cool, summer treats – for example pureed berries mixed with a little coconut cream makes a super healthy popsicle that kids or adults love. Sub the berries for frozen banana chunks, a tsp peanut butter and a tsp of cocoa to satisfy that chocolate ice cream craving. Adding in a good quality vanilla protein powder to either flavour makes a balanced meal and you can literally eat popsicles for breakfast if you want. I did that on Wednesday actually. Yum. For bevvies that beat the heat, swap the alcohol and soda for sparkling water a fresh lime, lemon, cucumber and mint or frozen berries. These are just a few examples but the swaps are literally endless.
And then remember as you're looking at what you can have, replacing the bad with the good, making sure you've always got options available, always take it one percent at a time. Because no matter where you are in your health journey, or wherever you want to take your health, anyone can do one percent better today than yesterday. And that will keep you on track and moving towards your goals.
If you're looking for more swap options and a way to reset, restart or even just get started creating healthy habits and healthy weight loss, join the 21 Day Kickstart starting July 15. Just $99 for early bird registration when you register by July 8.
Kelowna Nutritionist STOP dieting, start living! Lose the Bloat, Melt your Belly, Love Your Life!! Last thing, last time, believe it! Sign up to receive my bi-weekly FIT Nutrition blog, and get started today.