I’ve had a lot of people as of late ask me about good nutrition habits, staying consistent and finding motivation. Most the time, people assume to hear the typical: meal prep, keep healthy snacks on hand, drink plenty of water and eat your protein. All of which are great tips. However, I firmly believe that one of the MAJOR components in our path to nutritional success is sometimes, always. forgotten. It has nothing to do with food, and everything to do with your mind.
1. Be conscious — food and eating, by nature, is a habit. When things become a habit, we often times don’t even think about them anymore. If 8 o’clock rolls around, we eat breakfast. But do we ever give our mind a chance to really think about it?
I’ve found it to be extremely helpful to be more conscious and mindful of my eating habits. I ask myself a series of questions..Am I bored?Have I had enough water?Is this going to make me feel better/worse after eating it?Eat the treat and be happy you ate it!
Asking these thoughts and questions allow us to prepare and really be mindful of why and what we’re eating. It gives us a chance to slow down and make a better decision for our bodies AND our mind.
2. Sleep. I don’t know about you, but when I don’t get enough sleep, shit’s going down. And I mean doooown. I’m cranky, grumpy and irritable. My focus is off, my patience is non-existent and I tend to fill that tired, unfocused feeling with choices I wouldn’t normally go for. Cue: comfort foods.
I’ve learned (and it’s taken me a long time) to know that when I’m tired I crave things like pies and cookies and entire loaves of freshly made bread. I’ve realized that it isn’t that I’m needing it or really even wanting it. It’s my body being exhausted and reaching for some kind of relief — aka: comfort food.
Maybe you experience this, too? Maybe your body is exhausted so it craves things like: candy, coffee, pop or greasy fast food? Your body is telling you something. Put it to bed.
3. Pick a de-stress activity. Stress eating. It’s a real thing. And often times, when this happens, we’re on auto-pilot. Have you ever gotten home from a long day at work, headed to the gym, got home, ate a pretty good dinner and then 9 PM hits and you’re neck deep in a pint of ice cream? Either two things have happened — you’re bored, or your body’s stressed. This can happen at ANY time of the day (that 3 PM craving?)
Always remember that your mental health is just as important as your physical health. Sure you go to the gym 6 days a week, but what do you do to strengthen your mind? I’m guilty of this. Rarely do I spend time working out my mind muscles.
By figuring out an activity that de-stresses you (be it meditation, yoga, therapy, reading or walking), you’re allowing your mind to release it’s stress and find another outlet other than food. [Read more here on stress eating…]
4. Plan in the morning. I recently read a really cool article on “10-minute mornings” and it describes how setting aside 5-10 minutes in the morning to visualize your day can bring you more calm, more energy and more productiveness.
By doing this simple exercise of sitting quietly and visualizing your day, writing down things you need to accomplish, thoughts you’re having and things you’re grateful for allows you to take control of your day how YOU see it. Then at any moment throughout the day, you can go back to that visualization or those writings and remind yourself.
For example, a visualization may look like:Visualizing your day — walking into work confident, voicing your opinion during the meeting, Rx-ing your workout and sitting down relaxed, eating a filling meal.Things I need to accomplish — I need to complete my work project A today, mail a letter, call and schedule and appointment, workout and make sure to stay consistent to my meal planThings I’m grateful for — waking up, the beautiful weather, a job I enjoy and a functioning body
Then, any time you may think I should really just hit up the drive-thru – you’ve already visualized yourself eating according to plan. You’ve already committed to it. The choice has already been made. Or maybe a coworker pisses you off and you’re ready to go full on grump – but you can quickly reach back to the things you’re grateful for and switch that mood around more quickly.
5. Find joy in the process. There’s nothing worse than doing something you hate and trying to convince yourself you’ll eventually enjoy it. I’m going to be realistic here and say don’t do crap you don’t like. I tell my clients that all the time. Sure, sometimes I get the raised eyebrow and the, but I know sometimes we have to do the things we don’t like to see the success we want. Well, yes, in a sense. But I’ve found that clients almost always have more success when they find JOY in the things they do. Sure, it may be a little uncomfortable on days or even a little difficult — but after the fact, I want them to feel pride and joy in the process and more so importantly, in themselves.
The awesome thing about nutrition and fitness is that it can be TOTALLY personalized to the person and their lifestyle. And when it is, that’s when you get the best results – physically AND mentally. So find something you enjoy and challenge yourself, your trainer, your nutritionist to find that sweet spot.
6. Educate yourself (and others) This has to be one of the most important steps to staying consistent. By educating yourself and others you begin to see the WHY. Which is thee absolute most important question we get to ask ourselves on our health journey.
Once we know the WHY we can no longer act ignorant. We have the knowledge to make the better decision. And even when we don’t, which is going to (and should) happen from time to time, we at least can understand the potential effects of that decision. Knowledge is always power. Power to choose and know the importance of our decisions – nutritionally, physically and mentally.
So if you’re struggling with staying consistent to a nutritional (or fitness) plan but feel like you’re doing everything correct physically … make sure that your mental game is just as strong.