Focusing on Habits not Fads

Super Bowl weekend may have found many of you going astray from the health goals you set for the new year. And, it’s only February. manasotaKeysunset

What can you do? For starters, you may want to take this week to reflect on your goals, and be sure that they are goals in which good habits can form. My mantra has always been “keep it fad free”. For almost 20 years, I wrote a newspaper column for the Meadville Tribune. My goal has always been to help people learn how to improve their diet and eating habits, without feeling guilty, and eating for both enjoyment and nourishment.

Fad diets infer short term fixes that seem easier than changing and getting to the root of your bad habits or thoughts. Of course the alternative choice is figuring out why you make the choices you make (eating too much, skipping exercise, give in to cravings) and learning to maintain healthy habits over your whole lifetime.

It’s the formation of healthy habits, not the adherence to food rules, or the deprivation of favorite foods, that creates lasting health. After all, “health” isn’t just good blood pressure, normal blood sugar levels, or a BMI between 20 and 24. It’s also about emotional health.

Health: “the condition of being sound in body, mind, or spirit; especially:  freedom from physical disease or pain” ~Merriam Webster

So if you felt you splurged too much during the weekend, or if you feel guilty because you missed your exercise class due to another obligation – lose the guilt and keep moving forward. Do think about the big picture however:

  • Make a list for your grocery shopping. Having a plan when you get to the store is always a good idea. You can only eat well if you have good choices in the refrigerator and pantry at home.
  • Be realistic. Instead of setting up unrealistic rules (“I’m going to quick eating bagels” or ” I’m not going to eat at the party”), allow yourself the foods you crave, but have a plan. Balance out your treat with healthy foods too. An example would be hosting a Make Your Own Pizza Night with homemade pizzas (purchase prepared thin crusts) and adding a tossed salad or fruit platter.
  • Don’t tempt yourself. If the candy bowl or potato chips calls your name too often, then store those treats elsewhere or bring them into the house or office less often.
  • Consider what hunger really is. Hunger is the feeling that your stomach is empty and you need energy. Often times we confuse our “appetite” with true hunger. It’s okay to “be hungry” for a short time before meal time.
  • Enjoy snacks only when you are hungry. We have lost the idea that snack time is nourishment that is used when the next meal is too far off. You may find yourself snacking when you aren’t hungry – those snack calories are likely unneeded to nourish you.
  • Choose exercises that you enjoy. There are many options. Gyms appeal to some people, while getting outdoor exercise appeals to others. Mix things up all through the year, but be sure your choices are a good fit for you so you can sustain them.
  • Stay positive. If you are working on weight loss, understand that the positive changes you make are more important than the scale. It you’ve set goals to do more exercise, choose healthier foods, eat smaller portions, be more mindful – embrace your “wins”. Skip the scale if it sabotages your mood. Making better choices will pay off over time.

Fat Tuesday can lead to Lean Wednesday and beyond, with a healthy body and mind. Reframe your goals, stay positive, move more, and feed yourself well.

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