If you’ve ever tried to make a change to your diet, you know it’s hard, very hard, and sometimes it even seems impossible…Even though the lady in the stock image above makes it seem wonderful..Seriously, that blissful gaze? That better be ice cream she’s holding 😉
The truth is that in the quest for better health, often times we can be our own worst enemy. We simply try to do too much too fast! In today’s technology age we’re conditioned to immediate rewards. If I order a limited edition star wars light saber from amazon prime, I’m fully engaged in galactic warfare with my new toy by the next day! That’s incredible, but what we know about changing our bodies tells us that this will never be the case with fitness and health (at least in my lifetime). Yes, the sad truth is getting healthier is a long process. All I can do as a fitness professional is hopefully help my clients enjoy the ride. Follow my 3 “S’s” if you’ve gotten burned out on the shortcuts and you’re looking for something more realistic.
Our lives are stressful, yet no one seems to appreciate the affect this stress has on changing dietary habits. Most (if not all) days you wake up and you’re on the run the second you get out of bed. Kids, commute, work, deadlines, social commitments, school, and the list can go on. Needless to say, inserting a major dietary change into that already packed and stressful day can be very difficult. Instead of ignoring the fact our lives are stressful, let’s account for it. By accounting for the stressful life we all lead, quickly you realize that in order to be successful, your changes must be subtle and incremental enough to not add additional stress to your life (because if it does, you won’t do it for long). Ask yourself this question when considering a dietary change: “Is this going to stress me out?” If the answer is yes, you might want to start smaller.
In an effort to not add stress to your life, your diet changes must be simple. Whenever I say simple, people seem to cringe, thinking that a simple change cannot possibly produce the result they’re looking. Indeed, one simple (and small) dietary change might not make a huge difference. Saying that, if you can stack one simple change on top of another simple change, and then another your series of simple changes add up to quite a major change.
To accomplish simplicity you need to think in terms of habit formation, and forming one small and simple dietary habit at a time (remember your life is too stressful to tackle more than one thing). Implement the simplest healthy diet change you can think of (I recommend starting with drinking 64oz of water per day, for most people). Once you’ve done it so consistently that you’re doing it without even realizing it, you’ve formed habit. Once that first habit is formed and locked in, you can move to the next simple health change. Repeat this pattern over and over again, building habits and you’ll find that a bunch of simple changes added up to a complete dietary makeover.
Just as acknowledging stress leads you to realize the need for simplicity, simplicity leads to sustainability. Ultimately any dietary change you make is only valuable if you can sustain it forever (if not, you end up right back where you started). Sustainability is dependent on habit formation, not rule following. When most people attempt to “diet” they follow a bunch of strict and fairly rigid rules, which normally cause more stress. When the stress of life meets the stress of following the rules, guess what – you drop the rules (I mean, who needs one more thing to be stressed about?).
Since building simple habits transition into the subconscious mind, they’re not stressful. In fact, they’re just there – running in the back ground without you even having to think of them. In effect they become automatically sustainable because they are a habit.
Give this a try, find one thing in your diet you feel could be improved on, maybe it’s eliminating something, maybe it’s adding something. Whatever it is, make it small and simple (like drinking more water). Implement it until you do it so well you forget you’re even doing it. Then move onto the next simple, small improvement. If you commit to this process for even 3 months you’ll see some spectacular change to your diet, your body, and your health!
I hope this helps, now if you’ll excuse me I have to check the mail 😉
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