Hey friends! Happy 2019!
New Year’s has come and gone and if you’re in the majority, you’ve probably made some New Year’s Resolutions. And also if you’re in the majority, those resolutions may not make it past the next few weeks :( It’s so great to feel anew when you wake up on January 1st, so I hate the idea that those feelings may last through the first few weeks of the year.
I thought I would give you some tips for making maintainable nutrition & wellness changes in your life that can take you all throughout 2019!
What if Weight Loss Wasn’t Your Goal this Year?
We know that the pursuit of losing weight through dieting in and of itself doesn’t really work. Most people who diet end up losing weight and then gaining it all back (and then some), and this process doesn’t improve health. Yo-yo dieting is actually harmful to your health and can increase mortality. If you’ve ever tried a diet and lost weight only to gain it back, take a moment to think about how that process made you feel about yourself. Probably not very good. So if you’ve gained back all the weight anyway and feel poorly about yourself, why not open yourself to another way?
Weight is not a behavior. There is a lot related to weight loss and weight gain that is out of our control. I’m not faulting anyone for the desire to lose weight, but I think it’s important to point out that focusing on the number on the scale instead of our actual behaviors and lifestyle only keeps us running on the hamster wheel of feeling shitty about ourselves.
When I started my private practice, I made a conscious decision to not put a scale in my office. What I have found is that removing the discussion of a mathematical number actually removes the guilt, shame and failure that comes along with setting a goal weight. In return, my clients have become healthier while also creating lifelong habits and feeling better about themselves.
Figure out what works for you
If I could pick the #1 reason why people struggle with healthy eating and exercising, it is because they are looking for someone else to tell them what to do instead of asking themselves what feels right. Whether it is following Whole30 or waking up at 5am to do Bikini Body Guide workouts, society makes us feel like we’re failing if we’re not following a plan.
While it’s great to seek structure or inspiration, relying on anything other than yourself to tell you the “right” and “wrong” way to do things doesn’t really work. If you need proof of that then make a list of all of the diet and workout plans you’ve tried and see how many you’ve stuck with.
We are all individuals who have unique needs. Our food and body movement choices should be centered around this as well as our schedules, satisfaction and feeling our best. This looks different for everyone.
Focus on the Internal, Not the External
Getting in tune with our bodies can be so hard when we are raised in a society that puts so much emphasis on calories and portions sizes. But tuning into your body is key.
Should you decrease your alcohol consumption because it’s making you gain weight, or because it causes you to get crappy sleep and then you can’t concentrate in the morning?
Should you be more concerned with how many calories are in the basked of nachos at the Mexican restaurant, or would it be better to just recognize that you are stuffed to the point of discomfort afterwards and then basically can’t function past sitting on the couch for the rest of the night?
Does eating a ton of fast food or becoming dehydrated make you constipated?
Does a workout make you feel invigorated and help you sleep better?
Our bodies tell us what we need if we would just open ourselves up to listening.
Make a Plan
Planning out meals and exercise seems daunting, especially when have all of these photos on Pinterest and Instagram of a dozen Tupperware containers filled with grilled chicken and broccoli. But I am here to tell you that planning out meals doesn’t have to be that complicated (uh, or boring).
Every weekend, Rich and I sit down and compare schedules for the following week. If we’re both working late then we’ll plan something simple for dinner. If I’m home earlier then I will plan a more involved dinner because I like to cook and have the time. Our meals are planned around foods we like, although I am mindful of throwing in whole grains and veggies to make them more filling and satisfying.
We schedule a date night each week, and we still try new restaurants. I make a note of when I will have free time to get in a workout, and which days I should put Winnie in doggy daycare so that I can be more productive at work. I think this process takes less than 30 minutes, and it’s completely fluid and flexible. Sometimes we change our meal plan and that’s OK too.
Meal planning and fitting in exercise looks different for everyone. I have clients who have completely different routines than I do and those work better for them. I think that’s great!
Just in the way that you would schedule a meeting, plan out a project or make a doctor’s appointment, think of meals and exercise the same way. Just structure your planning method in a way that works for you.
Don’t forget the basics
I didn’t want to publish this post without giving you same tangible nutrition advice, so here’s a little bit of gentle nutrition.
Hydration – be sure you’re drinking enough water and hydrating beverages
Fruits and veggies – the more, the merrier. We all know that eating plant-based diets is so great for our bodies. Produce not only increases the nutrient-density of a meal, but they can also enhance the flavor and texture of foods. Build your meals around produce that you love and don’t forget to eat the rainbow :)
Whole grains > refined grains – I love homemade pasta and rice Krispy treats, but refined grains lack fiber that is heart healthy, helps with satiety, and will keep our GI system in check. So I try to keep that in mind when I’m planning meals.
A-L-C-O-H-O-L – lastly, don’t forget that there are alcohol recommendations to keep your health (and liver) in check. With the growing popularity of breweries and social drinking, excessive alcohol intake has been somewhat normalized lately. The recommendation for alcohol is 1 drink per day for women and 2 drinks per men, or 7/14 drinks per week. There are definitely ways to enjoy alcohol while taking our health into consideration. The CDC has a great article about alcohol intake here.
While this advice may seem repetitive, it is often the most-ignored. I am sometimes astounded at how much society nitpicks apart certain nutrition topics (gluten, dairy, carbs, the sugar in fruit) while completely losing sight of the overall big picture.
Evaluate Your Reasons vs Excuses
Sometimes when a client sits in my office, we have to talk about why they aren’t meeting their nutrition and exercise goals. We collect some bullet points and then go through each one and evaluate whether those are reasons or excuses. There are LOTS of good reasons why we should skip a workout or order a pizza instead of following through with out planned meal. It’s just important to be honest with yourself about when you’re making an excuse instead – and also how to tell the difference between the two :)
In conclusion, I’d like to wish you a Happy 2019! If nutrition is a topic you want to tackle this year and you’re having trouble sifting through the never-ending amount of nutrition information out there, then I’d love to help you! I provide 1-1 nutrition counseling to provide you with customized nutrition and wellness advice, as well as ongoing motivation and support <3
You can access my calendar and schedule a free phone consultation to see if we would be a good fit to work together!