Happy New Year and welcome to 2020!
If you resolved to lose weight or improve your heath this year, congratulations!
So, what is your plan? Do you have one?
In 10+ years of working with clients on health and nutrition, I have often found that when January 1st rolls around people decide to make dramatic changes to their eating habits: cutting out all sugar, eliminating all carbohydrates, avoiding alcohol, or eating only chicken and steamed vegetables.
While this may seem like the best way to lose weight and clean up your eating, there are a few flaws with this type of plan.
First of all, if you have spent the past 2 months indulging in cookies, mashed potatoes, wine, and pumpkin spice lattes it will be difficult for your body to give them up cold turkey. You have conditioned your mind, as well as your body, to expect these delicious, comforting treats.
When you say, “Sorry, no more fat, sugary goodness for you!”
Your body replies, “Oh yeah, I’ll just see about that!”
The next thing you know, you are in the midst of some serious carbohydrate and/or alcohol cravings. And we all know that eventually you will cave in and go off the rails vowing to start again tomorrow or next Monday. Even worse, you may quit trying altogether.
Secondly, our bodies need all of the food groups to heal, grow, stay healthy, and function on a daily basis. Eliminating an entire group of foods, such as carbohydrates or fats, restricts the amount of vital nutrients our bodies receive. We may not need processed carbohydrates and saturated fats to fuel our body but we do need to include fruits, vegetables, whole grains and healthy fats from nuts, seeds, or avocados to insure our body functions at its best.
Rather than adopting a drastic “all or nothing” approach, I encourage my clients to make small, manageable changes over a period of time. A kind of “ back to basics” approach that introduces easy to apply lifestyle habits as opposed to diets and deprivation.
- Eat slowly and mindfully – Rather than scarfing down dinner in front of the tv, sit at the kitchen table and make an effort to experience and enjoy the food you are eating. If you normally finish dinner in 15 minutes, set a timer for 20-25 minutes and allow the act of eating to fill the time.
- Eat less by reducing your normal meal size by 20% – Rather than cutting out, start by cutting back. If you normally get a medium latte, try a small. If you grab a bag of potato chips from the vending machine each day, start cutting back by only eating 1/2 the bag (save the other half for the next day or throw it away if you simply can’t put it down). At lunch, eat your normal foods but order a smaller portion, put some in a to-go box, or share with a friend.
- If you managed to maintain a fairly healthy diet through the holidays, perhaps you focus on adding 15-20 minutes of physical activity to your day 4-5 times per week.
Pick 1 new lifestyle habit and focus on doing it everyday for 2-3 weeks. Strive to do a little bit better each day. Once you have gotten a firm grasp on the habit you can choose to expand on it, such as increasing your physical activity to 30 minutes 4-5 days per week, OR you can add a new habit to your healthy habits repertoire.
Yes, it will take longer to lose weight or improve your eating pattern, however in the long run this slow steady approach will lead to greater success and better long-term results.
Give it a try, be patient, and keep an open mind. If you do, you will see yourself making the progress you want while still enjoying your life.
If you are unsure of where or how to start, my nutritional coaching program will help you get on track and stay on track. Learn more now!