This Is Just the Beginning
I have enjoyed putting together these little bites of nutrition information over these several weeks. You now have some good information to draw from as you make your food choices. Remember, progress, not perfection. When experts say you just need to eat right and move more, I feel they minimize the true nature of what it is like to change your lifestyle. You are not “just” changing your food and exercise, you are changing your culture and lifestyle. As a society, we center so many of our traditions and social activities around food. Sometimes it’s been healthy traditions, but for a lot of us it was not. When I work with my clients, we talk about the simple yet powerful permission to say no. When you are making a choice to avoid sugar or processed foods, there will come a time when you will need to politely decline something a host offers. This is hard. There are certain expectations, and we don’t want to come across ungrateful. It is helpful to acknowledge that the struggle is real.
Speaking of struggle, we do wrestle with ourselves. If you have relied too heavily on quick carbs for energy or an emotional boost, it is indeed a struggle to let that go. Our brains are wired to survive. If it has been used to quick energy, it will produce intense cravings for it if you attempt to switch to unprocessed foods. It is hard. I write this to acknowledge and own this story. I have found that I end up having much more power over my choices when I acknowledge that the struggle is real and hard. Instead of minimizing a good choice, I realize just how much there is to celebrate when I am successful at that simple, “No, thank you”. I meet myself with compassion when I make a food choice that does not serve me well because I know there will soon be another food choice and I can choose more wisely and continue in my journey.
Here are some strategies to help integrate this new lifestyle:
Remove, Replace, Modify one thing at a time. Focus on this one thing for a few weeks. It’s ok not to cut everything all at once. You are working towards changing your lifestyle. It’s better to go slow and steady than to get overwhelmed and quit altogether.
Replace salty chips with a handful of nuts.
Modify your dessert choice to a few pieces of high quality dark chocolate
For those of you that like to dive in completely, go for it! Try a 21-day or 30-day challenge as a catalyst into the new lifestyle. But plan ahead. Carry snacks like beef jerky and some dark chocolate for those situations you may feel deprived if you need to decline something offered. Plan out your meals and snacks for the week ahead. I encourage you to remember the challenge as a catalyst. You are changing your lifestyle. That’s where you are going to see the lasting results.
Find an accountability partner that will support you and encourage you in those moments when you are struggling and who will also celebrate with you in your victories. Maybe a health coach would be helpful for a couple months? You are worth it. The struggle is real, but there is a way. Own your story so that you can write your own ending. Don’t go it alone. We’re all in this together.