As a dietitian, a large part of my day is spent talking to people: patients, co-workers, family members, and friends. All different conversations, but when it comes to discussing lifestyle change, they all have one thing in common: No one likes to change. We all have unique food behaviors and habits and we spend years creating our routines as they relate to food. But, often times, those food routines that have brought us positive feelings and happiness, lead us down the path to chronic disease and poor life quality. Small choices we make every day, without our even knowing it, can chip away at our good health.
Half the battle is recognizing when you may need to change. Your body will give you clues that there is a current problem or a problem on the horizon. The key is to listen to what your body has to say and then learn how to give your body what it needs. Listening to your body is no easy task, and despite knowing you'll be better off and feel better every day, permanent change still involves struggle. Sometimes even thinking about what you need to change can usher in a grieving process. We may be sad when thinking of giving up our favorite foods or favorite food habits. It can be scary to find a new normal. We may be afraid to fail, or feel out of control when not in our comfort zone. We may feel the time requirement is too great or too stressful. But, we may also not want to experience the physical or emotional discomfort that can frequently accompany lifestyle change.
Creating a new routine doesn't have to be a negative task. It doesn't have to be stressful or painful or impossible. Improving your quality of life is an exciting adventure and one that should be continuous. I have reversed my autoimmune disease with lifestyle change, but the process continues. There is always more to learn and more to try and more to do. It's not been a breeze and I still struggle, but the results have been life changing and so much has improved for me. If you don't know where to begin, the following tips will help you on your path to creating a new normal and a new healthy lifestyle that will help you lead a life free of disease:
1. Create a list of what would improve your quality of life. For example, do you need more or better quality sleep? Do you need to cut out junk food and/or make more nutritious choices? Do you need to reduce the stress in your life? Do you need to create healthier relationships? Do you need to move your body in mindful ways?
2. From that list, prioritize what would bring about the most immediate relief. For example, creating a healthy sleep routine will likely dramatically improve your life literally over night! Starting with this goal will likely help you be more successful with all other goals.
3. Tackle one goal at a time. For example, once you've gotten comfortable with your new sleep routine, move on to your next goal.
4. Ask an expert. There's so much conflicting information available, especially when it comes to food and nutrition. The key is to find a support person who can help you personally. There is no one size fits all when it comes to lifestyle change.
5. Limit time with people who do not support your goals. Lifestyle change is hard enough as it is. If you spend your valuable time with those who don't respect your choice to change, it will be much more difficult to continue.
6. Document your progress. Keeping track of your progress or of how your overcome challenge is therapeutic and an easy way to monitor yourself. It doesn't need to be a dissertation, just a few words or lines here and there to keep you focused.
And, just like that, you've got a new normal. Life is a learning process, you didn't create your current habits overnight and those habits aren't likely to go away overnight. But, you can chip away at your goals one day at a time, and eventually, you'll have a new outlook and a new disease free life! Lifestyle change is POWERFUL!
For help getting started, contact us today for a free 15 minute phone consultation.