The season of diet mania has approached us. The time of year when the latest diet and exercise trends are experimented with. The time when “food experts” come out of the woodwork to tell you what you should and should not be eating. It creates a focus and change in behaviors that at best may last until March, if you’re lucky. You’re often met with good intentions, but with such a shift in schedule and energy it can often be hard to maintain.
A big part of this set-up is the focus on weight loss. People will go on diets that are too restrictive and disruptive to their everyday life. As time goes on, more and more energy and mental strength is required. You get tired of counting the points, eating the same thing, miss carbs and sugar and get to a point where “you just have to have” whatever it was that was banned from your diet. This is the set-up. Even when the diet may not be for the sake weight, but more for “health,” it is still looking at the relationship that can get created. There are still rules and that is the hidden pitfall.
These sorts of plans keep food only about the body. But when you look at what “sabotages” you, it isn’t the body, it’s the mind. You want to rebel against the rules, you get tired of staying in the same box of food choices, the mental energy to prepare every food and condiment gets exhausting. The body isn’t giving out, it’s your mind that just can’t take it anymore.
This is because we are mind-body beings. If the mind isn’t happy, the body isn’t happy, and the changes won’t be long lasting. The perfect example is looking at the difference of how taking out a certain food in your diet can be experienced. Let’s say I go on a diet that says I have to take out gluten. So I follow it, but it’s now a rule that I can’t have gluten. As time goes on, I crave it more and French bread is calling my name. I focus more on the fact that I can’t have it, even though my stomach does feel better. I feel deprived of all the foods that I know can’t have and there is this draw to rebel against the rule.
Now, let’s look at the other side. Let’s say I am frustrated with my stomach issues and curiously take out gluten and see how I feel. It is my doing that I decide to try to decrease my intake of gluten and notice I do feel better. When I have gluten again, my stomach hurts and issues arise. I know I don’t like feeling that way, but now I am the one deciding if I am going to keep gluten in my diet or take it out. In my article, “How A Little Curiosity Can Change The Way You Look At Food,” I discuss how curiosity is the game changer in your relationship with food. You replace judgement with self-care and compassion, which allows you to be more intuitively connected to your body. This shift allows the changes you make to be about feeling good, feeling stronger and more energetic. When this is the focus, then there is a much higher chance of staying with the positive changes you are trying to implement. It creates a sense of well-being and self-care versus a restriction or deprivation.
One of the keys when you’re making resolutions for your health, is to make them realistic. Focus on the little things, the little changes you can make. If you only are active twice a week and want to increase that, start with adding one more day. This can be walking outside, going to an exercise class, having a 20 minute dance party with your kids. It all counts!! Pick something that you enjoy and feels good doing.
If you eat out most nights or lunches a week, try to cook or bring your lunch 2-3 times a week. If you don’t drink enough water, try adding it with two meals a day. If you make drastic changes, then you are less likely to stick with it.
You need to give yourself time to acclimate to the changes you are making. Again, the mind needs to be happy and adjust to the changes in thinking, schedule and the reprioritizing of things. It can do that a lot easier when it’s in small shifts. When you stay in this mindset, along with having curiosity, you break free from the rules that have been set upon you. You find patience and compassion that uncovers the answers to change that you’ve been trying to find. As Matt Bevin said, “While it may seem small, the ripple effect of small things is extraordinary.”