Healthy eating can be hard.
It doesn’t have to be. But it often is.
Part of that is due to our environment.
Our human nature is that we are creatures of our environment and these days the environment is not well-suited for healthy eating.
Between the temptations and our busy, stressful lives, making healthy choices can become overwhelming and even seem impossible.
There are two important tools I would like to offer you to help you make better choices.
- One is commitment.
- And the other is awareness.
Let’s talk about commitment.
Without your commitment to making better choices, it is not going to happen consistently enough for you to see improvements in your health or weight.
And remember, it is all about your CHOICES.
Every time you eat something, you are making a choice.
Every time you go shopping you are making choices.
But those choices are going to be dictated by your commitments.
If you are committed to losing weight in a healthy, sustainable way you’ll make choices aligned with that commitment.
If you are committed to doing all you can to age in a healthy way you’ll make choices aligned with that commitment.
If you are NOT committed then you may make some good choices but you probably won’t take the time and effort to establish those choices as HABITS.
Once you have developed the habits, the commitment becomes second nature, and therefore, much easier.
The most pleasurable and successful way to start with commitments is to commit overall to “healthy eating” or “taking loving care of my body” or “losing weight in a healthy way”.
Once you make that larger, overarching commitment the next step is to commit to ONE SMALL ACTION STEP.
Such as, “This week I commit to walking for 10 minutes every day.”
“This week I commit to eating 2 additional servings of vegetables at lunch.”
“This week I commit to measuring out the rice I eat to only 1/2 cup per day.”
Once you have committed and you start to see a habit forming you can move to a new small action step.
This builds confidence and it builds momentum.
Confidence and momentum are two powerful allies to help you remain committed to your larger goal and to see long-term success.
If you try to commit to too many things all at once it becomes much harder to carry through that commitment.
What drives commitment?
In order to fully commit, you must be inspired (or “motivated”).
Inspiration comes from things that feel good.
“I am inspired to eat healthy because I love myself and I want to care for my body.”
“I am inspired to commit because I feel good about healthy eating.”
Desire can translate to inspiration. “I want to feel better MORE than I want to eat that food.”
Negative feelings can motivate you.
Feeling tired or sluggish can motivate. A diagnosis from the doctor can motivate.
In that case, you might think, “The pain of staying this way is harder or scarier than making a commitment to change.”
I have found that commitment borne out of inspiration (rather than motivation) is more powerful and lasting.
So I encourage you to find inspiration even if you are now being motivated by some kind of pain or fear.
As mentioned above, once you commit to overall better-eating choices from there it’s a good idea to get specific and set up your goals.
“I commit to healthy eating.” is great but it is pretty vague.
Rather, I recommend saying it more like, “I commit to healthy eating therefore I am going to work on increasing my vegetable intake to 8 servings per day.”
This makes the process more manageable and realistic.
Once you find your inspiration and declare your commitment you are on your way to an easier and more pleasurable road to more healthy choices.
And remember that if you can commit long enough to make those choices over and over again, they will develop into habits. And then, oh boy, things are even easier!
Let’s talk about awareness.
The first step in making a change is being aware.
I often ask clients, “How did you feel when you made that choice?”
I invite you to bring awareness to all of your choices throughout the day.
Your body is sending you love letters all day every day.
The question is, “are you listening?”
The simple act of being aware of your physical sensations and emotions throughout the day can dramatically improve your life.
The moment we stop suppressing our feelings with food, alcohol, drugs, TV, social media, and the like we start to learn all kinds of things.
One thing I have learned from practicing awareness is that I often eat out of boredom.
Now when I get the urge to snack when I am not physically hungry I pause and see what is going on inside.
If I feel a general sense of restlessness or boredom I get up and do a little cleaning or walk up some stairs or go outside and throw the frisbee to my dog.
This is not always easy to do.
BUT, I am inspired to live a long healthy life and therefore I am committed to making healthier choices. This gives me the oomph I need to resist the temptation to take the easy path of just sitting on the couch munching on something.
But this all starts with awareness.
If you are eating to alleviate stress, sadness, boredom, anger, pain, worry, or any other emotion, you are not addressing that emotion.
You are only pushing it down.
And what goes down must come up.
And it will come up in mostly unpleasant ways.
I recommend using awareness as a tool to get in touch with the emotions and physical sensations going on moment by moment so that you can make better choices.
I hope these questions and suggestions are helpful for you.
If you are committed to improving your health and you would like some guidance on this, I invite you to get on a free clarity call with me. We can explore if either of these scenarios applies to you and what your next best steps might be.