It’s about time we start setting realistic health goals. Ones in which are sustainable, forgiving, and fun. At the start of the New Year, people tend to hit the ground running so hard on their ambitions that they quickly lose steam and give up on them. Every January I witness packed fitness studios and intense diet cleanses but by February, I a huge slow down. While hitting the gym and eating clean is a big thumbs up, (seriously, I’m not hating) I notice they don’t become sustainable activities because people really don’t want to do them. My goal is to help people reframe the way they make their health goals.
So let’s refashion how you see health. Taking an inventory of your diet and lifestyle can give you clarity.
Here are some helpful questions.
What do you eat and how do you eat daily?
Do you have 3 meals and 2 snacks?
Do you graze all day and have a heavy dinner?
Are you chewing thoroughly or do you eat quickly?
Are your meals typically take-out?
How do you get your vegetables in?
Do you exercise daily?
What kind of exercise do you do?
Do you enjoy it? How does it make you feel?
What is your main goal when you exercise?
Community, Connection & Self-Care:
Do you have a support crew (friends, family, partner)?
How connected are you to a community? Do you want to be?
What do you do for fun? Hobbies? Interests?
What kinds of activities make you feel good/calm/confident/inspired/motivated?
Once you get clear on what you see is feeding you life and energy, you will be able to see what desires you can bring forth that align with you.
This helps you to choose fulfilling and joyful actions. For example, choosing your favorite vegetable and making different meals that contain it. For example, carrots… you can make carrot juice, carrot soup, carrot and zucchini breakfast muffins, or add them to a sauté.
1. 80% Rule:
Let’s look at the big picture for a moment…if 80% of the time you’re eating whole plant-based foods including pasture-raised meats and eggs, then allowing yourself to “let loose” 20% of the time becomes a healthy balance. Eating healthy foods doesn’t have to feel boring. Fruits and vegetables can be eaten hundreds of ways. At times they too can feel like an indulgence – not only are they delicious, and potently nutritious but best of all, you can eat them all the time. I mean, spirulina truffles, cashew cheesecake?…c’mon.
2. Things you enjoy
Follow what feels good. Being on an exercise and nutrition regimen that works for you is likely to stay. Mixing it up between strengthening, conditioning, yoga, swimming, dancing, sports, etc., will be more enjoyable then doing one type of exercise 5-7x a week, plus it’ll be more effective. If your New Years resolution is to run a full marathon but you dislike running, why do it? Similarly with food, eat health foods in a way that feels good for you. A vegetable and fruit smoothie sometimes sounds more enticing than a salad, right?
3. How to stay on top of it?
Plan and organize your new health goals by creating lists and penciling them into your calendar. Invite your friends and family to partake in meal plans and workout activities to establish accountability. Studies show that it takes 21 days for a new action to become a habit. So, the more you make these actions a part of your daily routine, the most likely they will become second nature.
4. What to do when you fall off?
Forgive yourself and let it go. We’re all human beings with urges and tendencies. Self-love and acceptance is the most sustainable way to live. Balance is about making decisions based on what makes you feel good. If you feel like you’re “falling off the wagon” from diet or exercise, consider whether you feel mentally, physically, and/or emotionally imbalanced by what you’re eating/lack of exercise or if you’re honoring your body’s needs (example: eating heavier foods and resting for recovery/recharging).
Being present and conscious of your health gets you closer to truly enjoying your life NOW and in the FUTURE.