Here we are, 11 days into the New Year. I hope 2017 is shaping up to be a good one for you. Thinking back to when the clock struck 12, a short eleven days ago did you have any resolutions in mind? If so how are they going? Are you still on the bandwagon going strong, or has that bandwagon crashed into a ditch and you are now one step away from getting a match and setting the whole damn thing alight? If you are in the latter situation… I'd say drop the match. Watch that bandwagon burn. Enjoy the fire. Maybe even toast a few marshmallows. If that bandwagon has already crashed, then it had a dodgy wheel from the start.
Nearly half of us make New Year resolutions - whether it be to eat better, exercise more, lose weight, give up smoking, so on and so forth. But here's the thing - according to some researchers it’s estimated that only about eight percent of us keep those resolutions. So why do so many of us fail? I’ve talked previously about the importance of setting SMART goals and I'd recommend checking that post out if you've never heard this term before. Often times our resolutions are too big, too vague, too unrealistic - so we're not making the right kind of resolutions in the first place, and then when we do fail we tend to beat ourselves up about it, and reach for the closest cookie.
Which brings me to the four resolutions this dietitian wishes you'd make this year when it comes to your health.
#1 - DON'T BEAT YOURSELF UP, QUIT THE GUILT, QUIT THE SELF HATE.
Lets be real - life gets hard sometimes, life gets busy, and its not always smooth sailing when it comes to healthy living. But think about it this way; when you were younger and learning how to ride a bike don't try and tell me you never took a tumble?! Did you give up then and there? No! You picked yourself up, brushed yourself off and got back on the bike. Maybe you kept your training wheels on for a little longer, but thats 100% ok, because those training wheels were just tools to help you get to where you needed to go, and you damn well got there. Failure (falling off) was just part of the process, and you know what? It always will be, it has to be, otherwise how can we learn and grow?
Same goes for healthy eating and exercising. The moment you stumble and have that cookie, or reach for that piece of cake DO NOT criticize yourself for it, and don’t write off the rest of the day, week, month or year. What good will this actually do? That is not a rhetorical question - go on and actually answer that for yourself; 'what good will it do me if I beat myself up over my slip ups'? Eat it, enjoy it, savour the moment, learn from it, and move on. Self hate, self loathing, and feelings of guilt will get you nowhere but backwards.
#2 MAKE HEALTHY EATING A PRIORITY
I’m going to be honest with you now - although it would be really nice to have some kind of quick fix that allows you to drop 10kg in 2 days so you can continue on your merry way... its just not going to happen (unless you lose an arm or get very severe disentery) . Although it is not a sexy sell compared to the latest ‘cure-all’ wonder shake, jam packing your diet with vegetables, fruits, legumes and whole grains is the sure fire way to good health and a trimmer figure. There ain't no wriggle room here folks. You can try the various fad diets like eating nothing but bacon and butter for a month and sure you might lose some weight, but eventually it catches up with you, and in the mean time you are not doing your overall health any favours.
You brush your teeth every day right? Because if you didn't they would rot and eventually fall out. Consistency is crucial - you can't just brush your teeth once a week to protect yourself against cavities. Same goes for your insides - just because you can't see the rot doesn't mean its not happening. Eat whole, unprocessed foods EVERY DAY to maintain your health. Eating a salad once a week but burgers and chips every other day just wont cut it.
Don't like certain vegetables? Thats fine, start off by eating the ones you do. Over time taste buds do change. After about three weeks you'll start noticing the difference and start enjoying foods you once disliked. Case in point - I grew up eating cheese sandwiches, hated the sight of most vegetables and would actually vomit if forced to eat pumpkin. Now I eat about seven serves of vegetables a day and love every second of it. I also make a mean pumpkin curry.
#3 STOP DIETING
Stop with the fads and stop starving yourself. If you've tried a bunch of different diets before and they didn't work for you then why would you want to try another one now? Diets are not sustainable, you should DEFINITELY not be starving yourself, and honestly weight should not be lost too quickly! If you are on one of these types of diets right now ask yourself, in all honesty, how long do you think you can keep this up? Stop thinking in the short term, and start thinking about the benefits to your health in the long run, your actual health, not just your waistline. You've got two options here you can either rip the bandaid off and dive right in to a lifestyle overhaul, or you can make small changes over time that you know you will be able to stick to - It will depend on how you're wired as to which strategy works best for you. Some people find a lot of change all at once a bit overwhelming, whereas others get bored and lose interest if there are only small changes being made. Either way get off the dieting merry-go-round and commit to changes that can be sustained for life.
#4. GET REAL
Its time to be honest with yourself, and often times this means being more mindful of your habits. It might help you to track your eating and exercise habits, and while you’re are at it, your emotions too. People eat for maaaany other reasons than simply because they are hungry.
Sometimes people think they have the perfect diet until they start writing it all down. Then they realise they do actually eat one too many biscuits here or an extra serving of dinner there. (Check out my previous posts on mindful eating here and here for more details, and for a downloadable food/mood diary check out our homepage for a free template). People who hold themselves accountable and track their actions and behaviours are more likely to have success. Once you bring awareness to your habits it is then you can begin to understand them and make meaningful and effective changes. Be absolutely honest with yourself about the changes you are actually making too. Simply turning up to your dietetic appointment doesn't quantify change - its the work you put in at home that will get you there. In the words of Henry Ford 'If you do what you always did, you'll get what you always got'. Change is necessary. So change.
And finally - back yourself on this! You are important. Your health is important. You are good enough and strong enough to make changes in your life that will lead to a happier healthier you. This year make time for you. If you do find yourself struggling with your health goals don't just let it slide. You're health is really important remember? Remind yourself of this regularly. Reach out to someone that can help, whether it be a Doctor, Dietitian, Exercise Physiologist or Psychologist who can provide you with some helpful tools, or even if its just a friend who is happy to go for a walk with you or lend an ear. Get out there, kick some ass and eat some broccoli. You got this.