- Susie Csorsz Brown
Get out of your own way
Now is the time.
You have made a decision and this time REALLY you are going to go on a diet and lose some weight. You are going to cut out all of those bad foods, eat only healthy things, and just get.it.done. I can't tell you how many times I have heard these very phrases, and watched people I know go through the motions, and then fall short of their goals.
Now is the time, you just said so yourself. So, what's stopping you? Honestly? You are. Excuses, dragging your feet, complaining, focusing on the challenges instead of the wins... you are getting in your own way. You are the one that is going to gain the most from sticking with it, and seeing your plan through. You are also the one that is going to be hit the hardest if you let excuses take the oomph out of your effort. It's also time to stop setting yourself up for failure. How do I mean? As much as I know, that making big changes to your lifestyle can be daunting, the day-in-day-out of your routine is likely comfortable and easy, and smooth. Sure you may think you want to change things up, and you should, but … change is challenging. But when you are ready to face that challenge, you need to get your feet under you and just make it happen. Otherwise, the reasons ‘why not’ will being to pile up.
A couple of pointers:
Know that excuses are not helping you. In order to get past this point, it is time to stop hearing the excuses that you are so good at coming up with as reasons not to make the change. Excuses are just that, excuses. Think instead of the excuses you have for why you SHOULD do it and focus on that. If you have to, tape these reasons all over your house. I'm serious. Bathroom mirror, by the coffee maker, near your key hook… everywhere you will see these reasons TO DO something, and it will help to reinforce your good intentions.
Redefine what 'healthy' is. Foods aren't 'bad' or 'good' in the sense that most people think. Sure, if you eat mostly potato chips, you're not going to be hitting your weight loss goals, but a handful or two every so often isn't going to hurt anyone. Not everyone has steel-like willpower; being human means have urges and giving in. Now, you can't give in every single time, right, but ... let's be real, there is no such thing as ‘falling off the wagon’ when it comes to eating healthy. So you ate a cheese burger AND your fries. So you had a serving if ice cream. Did you enjoy it? Okay, then. Guilt is not a motivator here, or at least not one that will help you achieve your goals. Just because you ate a food that you feel is a ‘bad’ food does not mean you should give up on the day. It’s not about every little thing you put in your mouth; it’s an over-arching improvement on what you are eating. Healthy foods are those you enjoy eating, that provide a good nutritional wallop and that you will keep eating. If you don't like it, if the taste does not appeal to you, if the cooking method is too cumbersome, or the ingredients are too hard to find, you are not going to continue eating it. Making smart choices about what foods you want to include -- and KEEP including -- is one of the keys to success. If you learn to love 'healthy foods', you'll be less likely to 'need' cheat days.
Further, and incorporating food + emotions, know this: you are trained as a human being to associate emotions with food. I mean, think about it: doesn't every single holiday or big event circulate around food? When you get angry/happy/sad/etc, don't you have a specific food you crave? Humans get pleasure from eating. It is not a bad thing, but if you are going to deprive yourself of said food-associated-with-pleasure, you will not succeed with your nutritional plan. Why? Because it will feel like punishment to not get to enjoy your favorite food. So be sure to include it, and just moderate the amount. Or frequency.
Speaking of keeping at it, a diet should not be a temporary thing. Making the decision to permanently improve your diet is the best way to achieve success. If you see it as a temporary fix, that is all it will end up being; if you choose instead to regard your healthful nutritional choices as a way of life (yes, I know that sounds both hokey and overwhelming at the same time), it will become so. In theory, diets that are designed to help you lose weight (read: think more about the food you put in your mouth) can indeed be a springboard for a permanent diet change, such diets could be a springboard to permanent diet change, but then, why not just make reasonable, permanent diet changes and cut out the middleman?
Speaking of eating healthy, the simplest ‘fix’ you can do to your diet is to eat more foods that are prepared by a human being, and not a corporation. By that I mean, foods that are processed, foods that are ‘fast’, foods that you can buy, nuke and eat within 2 minutes …. Those are not healthy foods. Even if they may contain that one super food somewhere in the ingredient list, processing minimizes the nutritional perks of foods. ‘Processing’ includes fast foods, includes peeled-ready-to-eat foods, includes pre-washed everything. Foods that are prepared by humans are also lower in salt, fat and sugar. A poor person eating a home-cooked diet has a much healthier intake than does a wealthy person who does not cook. So, cook more. Experiment in the kitchen. Learn to cook your favorites. Or discover new favorites. Not everything I make in the kitchen is amazing, but most are pretty darn tasty. This is what my kids are growing up enjoying; I hope I am giving them the gift of knowledge that good-for-you food is tasty, accessible, and doable.
Make sure your goals are actually achievable. Constantly feeling as though you are working really hard but just can't achieve what you want to achieve is not going to give you the motivation to keep at it. In fact, it’ll do just the opposite, right? Bearing that in mind, do your best to make your goals achievable but challenging; something you work for and gain is a prize. Consider your health to be the ultimate prize.
Pair healthy eating with moving more for a better chance at success. If you really do want to achieve weight loss and nutrition goals, the best way to do it is to pair healthy eating with a regular exercise regimen. Do something you love, and change it up. Add weight lifting to your regular cardiovascular routine. Try out a new sport. Just move more. The more you move, the more calories you'll burn. The more muscles you add, the more you’ll benefit. Know this: getting fit, eating well, making your wellness a priority ends up with a better level of health, and that is the perfect reason to start any health program. In the beginning, you might start because you want to look better, and aesthetics are indeed important. But the main reason to stick with a program is because it will make – and keep – you healthier. Being healthy is the BEST reason to make changes, and one of the perks of being healthy is that you’ll look and feel great. Win win.
Set yourself up for success. Fill your cupboards with good-for-you foods that you like and want to eat. If it’s good for you but you don’t/won't eat it, you shouldn’t even buy it. There are so many excellent food choices out there; pick the ones you love and will eat and enjoy them. If you're not into quinoa, or chia or whatever the latest fad is, don't waste your money or your cupboard space. Even the most amazing uber superfood isn’t worth buying if you are not going to eat it. In another 3 to 6 months, they’ll discover another new amazing food thing, and maybe you’ll like that one. Still, don’t just automatically say no; I would recommend trying new foods though, if you can, because you might happen across a new-to-you superfood or a new cooking method, and it will give you another option to enjoy.
Know that you’re not going to come out like a supermodel. Why not? Honestly, because most supermodels are actually genetic freaks (sorry!) that are not replicable, especially not by what you have going on in your gene pool (which is not to say you don't have some spectacular genes yourself). Just because you won’t end up looking like (enter-current-hot-model here) doesn’t mean you don’t look awesome. Keep it realistic, and know what you are working with. Also know that if you are 5'2" a pound is going to look very different on you than it might on a person who is 5'10". The numbers on the scale are not going to tell you 100% of the story, either. Don't worry about that, focus what is going on in your own pants. Literally. Focus on how you are feeling, how your clothes are fitting, and how you are getting stronger and more sure. You focus on you; let others worry about themselves.
Stop with the ‘shoulds’ already. If you should and you want to, you will. If you don't want to, but keep telling yourself you should, you are just giving yourself another reason to beat yourself up. And that is just more emotional baggage that you just don't need. Again, guilt is not an effective motivator.
Listen. It’s not just you. It’s hard to make changes. And this doesn’t just apply to eating healthy. All of these things can be said about starting a fitness regimen, stopping smoking, making health changes. Not that being well is hard; it is easy… once you get the ball rolling in the right direction. I’m probably not sounding very sympathetic and supportive, and believe me, that is not at all the case. Friends, I want you to succeed, and reach your goals. I want you to stop making excuses, and achieve what you want to achieve. If you’re continued excuses and moments of weakness are overly abundant, email me. Seriously. I am more than happy to give you 5 reasons why you should and can do this.