It’s that time of year again. After a busy holiday season filled with food and holidays, many of us come in January wanting to “cleanse ourselves” and recreate ourselves into a better and healthier version.
Of course it is a time when we want a fresh start and want to reflect and consider the changes or things we would like to improve in relation to our health and well-being.
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Having a desire to make changes and improve our health is a good thing.
After all, extreme diets and plans this time of year do not deliver what they promise and instead of making us healthier, they actually do the opposite.
Here are some things that will help you approach this time of year a little differently and help you set goals and objectives that are more meaningful and sustainable.
1. Think about self-care, not self-control
When we make decisions or set goals about food, movement or other habits, they often come from a place of self-control, often including restrictions. I hear from clients all the time that they want to lose weight because they do not feel good in their body. This place of dissatisfaction with our body makes us feel the need to control our food intake and try to exhibit control over our weight, shape or size.
Neither our body nor our mind likes to be controlled and as a result they rebel and work against us. Your body simply switches to the primary survival mode. It does this in many ways: by slowing down your metabolism, by increasing fat reserves, by increasing the hormones that make you feel hungrier, and by increasing your thoughts and cravings for food. These are all ways your body is working against control attempts.
Biologically, your body experiences diets and restrictions as a form of hunger. With each attempt to control through diet, the body learns and adapts, resulting in weight gain. As a result, many people feel like they have failed – but it is the diet that has failed them and contributed to the process of losing weight and regaining yo-yo.
There are many factors that contribute to our weight, shape and size, such as genes, hormones and natural changes that occur with age that are completely out of our control. After all, diet detaches us from our innate signs of hunger and satiety, and makes it easier to eat in the absence of hunger and develop a distrust of our body and the messages they send us.
What to do instead:
Think about self-care, not self-control. The alternative to control is care. Think of ways you can take better care of yourself in this New Year. This may mean:
- Move more in the ways you like
- By putting more effort and planning into your meals and meals
- Cooking more often at home
- Reduce time in front of the screen
- Get more sleep
- Becoming more conscious
2. Focus on behaviors and additions versus removal
I work with clients to change and improve behaviors, helping them set workable goals and objectives that make them feel good about their body and improve their overall health. Research reveals that most health indicators can be improved by focusing on health behaviors, regardless of whether weight is lost.
Only behavioral changes have been shown to reduce blood pressure, lower blood lipids – like triglycerides and cholesterol, and improve insulin sensitivity, despite changes in body weight. In a culture obsessed with our weight and scale, this may be difficult to fully understand, but it is true.
Whether your goal is to improve your health or feel better about your body, the behaviors we do every day are where they are. When you focus only on losing weight, you can use risky methods to get there; starvation, very low calorie diets, discontinuation of special food groups, extreme exercises, pills, supplements, drinks, powders, etc. None of these things are health-improving or long-lasting.
What to do instead:
Change your focus. Shift the focus away from scale and instead toward increasing behaviors and actions that we know are beneficial to health.
Switch to a more abundant and pleasant state by considering what to add to take better care of yourself. We can focus on small positive changes in the way we eat, which can result in big positive changes in overall health.
This idea of abundance and care, psychologically, is a better alternative. The science on this topic is clear, people who follow healthy habits for pleasure and well-being instead of losing weight are more likely to stick to lifestyle changes.
Changing our focus on the things we can do to improve our health, as opposed to trying to control the number on the scale, is empowering. We know there are some habits that positively affect our health and mortality. Things like moving our body regularly, including fruits and vegetables several times a day, moderate drinking, good quality sleep, eating regularly, and reducing stress.
Consider creating a list of actions you can add to:
- Take a 10 minute walk every day
- Start the day with a balanced breakfast – some fiber-rich carbohydrates, some protein and maybe a fruit or vegetable
- Take a few minutes each day to take a few deep breaths and notice how you feel
- Lie down for five minutes before going to bed
- Go to bed at 22:00 (or at a time that allows you 7-8 hours of sleep)
3. Check your goals
Many of us approach the New Year goals and objectives from a very self-critical place full of guilt, shame and disgust for ourselves. Coming instead from a place of self-respect is a more effective approach to achieving goals.
Ultimately what we do know is that our harsh inner voices are not motivating. Study after study has shown that if you are looking to stick to long-term goals, you are more likely to succeed if you have a more polite and compassionate approach to yourself compared to an in-house training sergeant who is destroying you. constantly.
What to do instead:
Stay away from harsh self-criticism towards evaluation. For most of us, our self-critical voice is loud and clear. While changing this voice does not happen overnight, it is possible to change it into a more polite and supportive trainer who can help you feel better and achieve better health.
Here are some ways to do this:
- Be aware of how you talk to yourself – the language we use on ourselves matters, can help or break you. Begin to notice your critical self-talk and, as you notice, reformulate it with something more useful.
- Celebrate and keep track of the positive things you do for yourself and your health – we focus a lot on the “not good enough”, but celebrating small wins is important.
- Practice gratitude for your single amazing body that does so much for you every day.
True change and self-improvement do not happen overnight. My hope for you this season is for you to choose to create goals and objectives that bring about lasting positive change rather than added suffering.
It comes from a place of self-care, instead of self-control; adding instead of removing; and moving away from criticism and toward evaluation can result in more meaningful and lasting change as we begin what we hope will be a better year for all of us.
Anna Jones is a registered nutritionist. Visit her site at annajonesrd.com.
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