Have you ever had the thought, ‘If only I would lose those few extra kilos I’d be happier?’
If you have thought that, you are definitely not alone! I remember thinking that a few years ago before I started my health journey. The world has taught us to judge each other by our looks and especially by our weight. How easy is it to look at someone overweight and instantly think they must be unhappy? Or when you see a fit and healthy looking person and you think they must be so happy.
Your body, your health and the way you look should be important to you but it shouldn’t be what brings you happiness! So many people are waiting to lose those few extra kilos, or save enough money for that house or find the perfect husband or wife before they can be truly happy. Why wait for those things to be happy? Why can’t we be happy with who we are, what we look like and with our life right now?
The world we live in is full of instant gratification and all of us wanting things to happen quickly. We are losing our patience and we are always looking for that quick fix. We used to be ok with dial up internet but if our internet is slow now we want to scream out in frustration and throw our computers out the window. Am I right? We can see this even with dieting. People want to lose weight quickly in the most effective way so they are willing to try shakes, bars, diets, fitness schedules, anything to make it happen as quickly as possible.
For some people this works well for a while. They feel great because they are becoming healthier, they are losing weight and they like the way they look. But what happens when that program finishes, or you go on holidays and are not following that diet anymore? Diets can cause you to put the weight on again slowly over time and sometimes without noticing it. This is because you have not formed a ‘healthy lifestyle’ and so you go back to how you did things before you started the diet.
My advice? The non-diet approach. This is all about eating healthy and not thinking about calories or restrictions or feeling guilty about what you are eating. Part of this is mindful or intuitive eating. Asking yourself if you are really hungry or just bored, or if you really want that piece of cake or you just want to eat it because it is there. It helps you understand your body cues and it shifts the focus from weight management to health promotion.
It’s also about having a positive mindset around food. How many of us label food as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ food? This already sets our minds up for failure when we eat ‘bad’ food because we feel guilty when we eat it. We need to make sure we feel the freedom to eat more in tune with our appetite and to let go of the rules we have created around food. Some people worry that if we let go of the diets, we will eat whatever we want because we have no restrictions, but that is not necessarily the case.
I have been on a health journey for a few years now and I have completed a health and nutrition coaching course through Cadence Health Coaching. I have discovered quite a few things that have helped me on my journey, and I want to share these with you in the hope they will set you free from living under the ‘diet burden’.
1 – Ditch the diets and find out what type of healthy food you actually enjoy eating and eat them! I have a lot of recipes that I use often because they are full of healthy nutritious food, fill me up and taste amazing! There is no use eating food that you don’t even enjoy. Food is meant to be enjoyed!
2 – Exercise for the way it makes you feel and not for the way it makes you look. I love exercising now, I used to dread having to exercise but because I have found ways to exercise that I enjoy it makes me want to do it. It increases my self-esteem and reduces my feelings of stress and anxiety. You might enjoy exercising with friends, a team or by yourself, you have to find what works for you because you are not going to be motivated to exercise unless you are going to enjoy it.
3 – Plan your meals ahead of time. I am always cooking up extra for dinner so I can use it for lunches and making healthy snacks on the weekends. This way we are not going to buy our lunch when we are hungry which can lead to unhealthy food choices. Find quick and easy healthy recipes so you don’t feel like you are always in the kitchen! And don’t go to the shops hungry!
4 – Stop labelling food as ‘good’ or ‘bad’, instead label them as ‘healthy’ or ‘not as healthy’. It’s better to put a positive spin on it.
5 – Eat until you are no longer hungry instead of full. Intuitive and mindful eating is really helpful with this. Ask yourself if you are still hungry. Remember, you don’t start to feel full until after 20 minutes of eating your food.
6 – If you are over at a friend’s house and they have specifically made dessert for you, eat it and enjoy it! Food is better enjoyed with company. Don’t feel guilty about it. If you eat healthy and nutritious food most of the time then enjoying some delicious treats is not a bad thing, it actually is good for us to not always restrict our eating. Enjoying some ‘not as healthy’ food is part of the non-diet approach and a healthy lifestyle.
7 – Enjoy your body in whatever stage you are in. It’s your body and it is strong and capable so be grateful for it! Enjoy fuelling it with delicious healthy food and exercising so you feel good.
Our health is always a journey so it’s not something that is supposed to be done perfectly. There is no perfect way to live, eat or exercise you have to find what works for you. Be happy with your body and look after it well. Below are some links for some of the resources I have found so helpful on this journey and I hope they will help you to!
POST ORGINALLY FROM EAST WEST AND CO
We all have a role to play in community health, the only question is how do we play this role? Through intelligent, evidence-based inquiry we can understand how to health coach to support others in taking on positive behaviour change.