Health lies along a spectrum.
It's not black and white - healthy or unhealthy. It's also not just physical health. Health is holistic - it includes physical, mental, social, spiritual, and whatever other areas you want to include. You can be physically fit and eat a nutrient-dense diet but remain socially isolated or depressed. Using the terms "good" or "bad" foods, or "I've been bad with eating lately," just puts a negative spin on food. Foods like ice cream that are high in sugar may deplete some nutrient stores, but enjoying a cup of ice cream in the summer in a stress-free environment may be just what your mental and social health needs.Yes, it is a daily commitment, but don't let your health goals overwhelm you.
Who's familiar with this story? You decide to "get healthy" and do everything all at once - start a new diet and promise to go to the gym everyday. Then, your co-worker brings in cupcakes for her birthday. You've been "so good" that you indulge in just one cupcake. Within minutes, you feel guilty, and then, you eat another one, followed by Chinese food take-out that night. After work, you go to the gym for hours to "work off the calories," and you go to bed promising that your diet starts again tomorrow.
Change Your Mindset
Switch from "All or nothing."
To start on the road of health, you have to stop the all-or-nothing mindset! No matter what your weight or BMI is, how many medications you're on, or the state of your health conditions, you can be healthy. It all starts with your thoughts. Don't make things overwhelming. Take the first step, and let momentum drive you forward.
Change your mindset from "need" to "want."
Rather than, "I NEED to lose 50 pounds", tell yourself that "I WANT to get healthier, so I have energy to go to yoga afterwork and hangout with friends." Write down your overarching health goals and all the reasons you want to achieve them. Then, write down all the pros of achieving them, such as more energy, and the barriers to achieving them, such as the time to prepare and cook fresh food. Finally, write down an action plan with specific goals to get there, and how you will overcome your barriers. Focus on 1-2 of these specific goals at a time. For example, if time is a barrier, you may find it's easier to prep food on a Sunday for weekday meals, so you have healthy meals ready for you.
If you have weight to lose, you may still be healthier than someone at a normal BMI that eats junk food and doesn't exercise. Your weight does not determine your health. Focus on building health habits wherever you are along the spectrum of health. Be happy with your progress. You don't have to wait until you're goal weight to flaunt a new outfit. You can tell people how excited you are that you've lost 20 pounds, even if you still have a ways to go. Set goals along the way, and celebrate each one.
Focus on how you FEEL.
Remember - weight is just a number, and the predetermined "goal" weight in your mind may not be the weight you body wants to be at. If your goal weight is 130 pounds, and you feel awesome at 150, and that weight is easy to maintain, then, don't force your body to lose 20 pounds. You may feel tired, fatigued, and depressed at 130 pounds. Weight and jean size are all just numbers. Don't let them determine your happiness or mood for the day. Focus on health instead!
Be flexible during times of change.
If you change jobs, start a family, move, or something else changes in your life, it will affect other parts of your life. Don't postpone your health habits during these times - instead, make changes to keep going. Your habits and priorities may change during these times - they should! If you're busy moving across the country, focus on getting enough sleep rather than worrying about exercise. If you're starting a new job and exhausted after work, try working in a few short walks during the day instead of missing out on sleep to wake up early for the gym.
View it as a Journey.
When you prioritize your health and view it as a journey, you begin to make small changes. These changes become habits, and over time, you'll be amazed how far you've come. Maybe you start by adding a salad to your lunch everyday - pretty soon, this may turn into eating a huge variety of vegetables with each meal everyday. Figure out what works for you, and go for it! Stay positive, and focus on how you feel, especially your energy levels. Most importantly, encourage others in their health journey. Not only will this motivate others (and you!), but it will empower you to take charge of your health.
What tips & tricks do you use on your health journey? Share below!