Have you ever stared at yourself in the mirror, maybe even pointed, and said, “You will not pig out at the party tonight. Control yourself.” only to crash and burn at the first site of unlimited nachos and free drinks?
Why does forming a new habit seem like one of the hardest things to do? After all, you’ve been doing x, y, and z for so long already, and you haven’t died yet, so is it really worth it?
Yes, it is worth it. You may just need to alter your mindset to break that old habit and form that new habit.
Whenever I hear a friend, client, or coworker talk about “eating healthier,” they almost always relate it to not being able to do something. “I can’t eat this” or “I shouldn’t be eating that.” There’s no pleasure, no reward, no eating tasty foods, and no reason to live (okay, that was extreme). There’s a huge problem with this mindset, and people of all ages and lifestyles suffer from this very thinking.
I only have to laugh to myself when someone sees me eating something they wouldn’t consider healthy and says, “hey! you don’t/can’t eat that!” Oh yes, yes I can, and I will.
The main thing they don’t know about my daily diet is that when I eat something like that, it composes about 5-10% of the calories I eat that day. What I’m eating and the amount I’m eating is a conscious thought, not a mindless binge. I’ve pre-planned what I’m going to have. I’ve set limits. I’ve told myself, “if you have some of this, it’s just going to be this much.” And just about every single time I’ve planned for this, I stick to the plan, or I end up changing my mind and not eating it at all.
If you’ve got an issue with self-control or a sweet tooth from time to time (join the club, there’s probably about 7 billion of us!), try adding instead of subtracting next time you feel like going on a “health kick.”
- Instead of completely taking out your afternoon sugar fix, try eating 25g of quality protein and at least 15g of a healthy fat at lunch time. You may end up satisfied and energized until dinner time rolls around.
- Instead of cutting out all sugar until Christmas so you can go hog-wild on Santa cookies, try planning to eat ~150-200 calories of something each day that you wouldn’t consider healthy. The rest of your meals can be filled with something you know is good for you, including meat, fish, eggs, sweet potatoes, beans, fruits, and veggies to name a few.
- Instead of telling yourself you can’t drink pop anymore, try slowly adding to your daily water consumption, and even mixing in something for taste once in a while such as lime/lemon juice or a flavored Crystal Light packet. Hopefully, after a few weeks, you will have easily added 10-20 ounces of water to your daily intake, and the thought of drinking two bottles of pop each day will start to sound unappetizing.
The key to this is adding or changing an existing habit so slowly that you find it almost too easy. It’s at this point that your confidence will build, you’ll feel like you can tackle a more difficult habit, and you’ll keep the momentum moving forward.