We’re all aware that poor eating habits wreak havoc on our bodies and lead to health problems, yet it’s difficult to escape. Our society promotes indulgent, mindless eating with ads on TV, magazines and the internet telling us to treat ourselves and “open happiness”. We begin thinking that there’s something wrong with us if we don’t bow to our cravings. Not to mention the looks we get from our peers if we pass on the chips or bread basket.
Adding insult to injury, we’re barraged with ads to “eat more” than chastised for being “too fat”! Then, here we go again, we are overwhelmed with ads for magic powders, pills and exercise equipment that will cure us of our obesity and laziness in no time! Well, aren’t we lucky.
Building on my previous posts about willpower and positive behavior change I’d like to offer some more thoughts on how to escape this cycle.
- Find support and build your confidence. By learning the basics of nutrition and physical activity and how to apply them to your specific needs you are empowering yourself to succeed. Keep growing your body of knowledge!
- Nothing happens right away! It takes time and determination to phase out bad habits and relearn new. But as incentive – losing just 10 pounds can make an enormous difference in your health if you are overweight. Don’t give up if you don’t see results right away – and you won’t. Certainly not right away. These things take time, more for some than others.
- Go slow. Transitioning from highly processed foods to whole foods is difficult, as is transitioning from a sedentary life to an active lifestyle. If you’re like most people when it comes to food, your palette has adapted to the unbelievable high sodium levels in modern food and the artificial flavors that go with them. Guess what – you may not love real food right away! Seriously, it took my husband and I a few goes with the good stuff before we realized how distorted our taste buds had become. Now when we eat, on rare occasion, processed food we feel like we’ve just licked the salt shaker. It’s just plain disgusting. You’ll see, I promise. I suggest ridding yourself of just one offending item per week. That way the change just sneaks up on you and you don’t feel you’ve altered your lifestyle in any radical way. When you do it that slow, honestly, you don’t even miss it.
- Plan on changing for a lifetime. Not just for a diet or some “program” but for good. This is your life we are talking about. Do your want to just “fit into your bathing suit” or be around to wear a bathing suit when your older. You decide.
- Keep a food diary. This way you can keep track of your calories and specific food consumption. At the end of the day, most people tend to under-estimate calories and over-estimate their activities. Bad news for the waistline. Keep a small notebook and pencil in your purse or, better yet, download one of the many great free apps that do it all for you, track your food AND calories. In this log it may be helpful to include a log of activities as well. As stated above, most people overestimate their activity level.
Having a plan and recording your progress helps you to know what you are doing rather than just what you think you are doing – which is in most cases inaccurate.