An odd title you might think for someone who is trying to promote a healthy lifestyle, but that’s just it! For the first time this isn’t about trying to lose weight, it’s about becoming fit and healthy and the other results are sure to follow.
In the past how many of you have been stuck on the yo-yo dieting train? I’m guilty of eating salads all week and then binging on wine and chocolate at the weekend because ‘I’ve been good all week and deserve a treat’, then proceed to polish off an entire family-size bar of galaxy, bottle of Blossom Hill and carry on throughout Sunday as ‘I’ve ruined it now and might as well start again on Monday’. I was stuck in the all-or-nothing mindset and it wasn’t getting me anywhere.
Since then I have realised that healthy eating and lifestyle is all about mindset and psychology. I follow former fitness model turned moderation-guru Jill Coleman and I have found some of her tips (shared below in my own, less expert, words) to be so useful:
Start to become mindful of your body: be aware of when you are hungry, what you are craving, and what you are actually putting in your mouth. Countless times I have polished off the kids manky, soggy fish fingers from their abandoned plates without even thinking. Or scoffed down my lunch in between feeding my toddler (who often refuses to use her own spoon) and then wondering where my lunch went before seeking out the next thing to eat. Or having a biscuit with a cuppa in front of the TV that soon turns into 5 or 6, leaving me feeling sick and fed up. Just practice becoming more aware of what you are eating and making sure it is a conscious choice.
Learn to be ok with moderation and drop the all-or-nothing attitude. Jill talks about practicing willpower, for example having a taste of the cake, or one chocolate so that you are not completely depriving yourself. This really does help with mindset if practiced over time! Initially I didn’t think that it would work, I thought I would be like an alcoholic who got the taste for it again, but actually I have been to a few family birthday parties recently and it has helped having a very small slice of cake. Previously I would have been saying ‘stay strong, stay strong’ on the inside and then probably eaten twice as much at the weekend so completely defeating the point. Sometimes I don’t even want a piece any more, which is a huge breakthrough for me! Maybe it’s because I am no longer depriving myself? Think about it this way: seven days at 90% tight will always beat the 5 strict days and 2 days binging at the weekend. Having one piece of cake will not make you unhealthy in the same way that eating one salad won’t make you healthy!
Another practical tip that I’m sure you have all heard before is drinking plenty of water. I aim for 3 litres per day, and it is much easier to hit this target when I’m at work as I keep a 1 litre water bottle on my desk and refill it regularly. When I’m at home with the kids I have to consciously remind myself to drink, and to track it. Eating a balanced breakfast is also extremely important (not Coco Pops), as you begin the day well and balance your blood sugar from the start. Always include a source of protein, and yes I agree that’s not always easy when you are trying to get everyone out the door in the morning, but seriously make it a priority and see how much more energy you have throughout the day. Also, make sure you have healthy protein based snacks on hand so that you don’t reach for the biscuits mid morning and mid afternoon.
My main message is this: NO MORE DIETS! Instead, change your mindset and change your habits. Don’t beat yourself up if you eat something ‘bad’, nourish your body with plenty of fresh foods, exercise and have fun. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not perfect. I still struggle with my mindset after years and years of being on and off a diet, but having a healthy balanced mindset is something that I am working towards.