Yesterday I met with a couple who were some of my first clients when I started my nutrition counseling practice 2 years ago. In that time, they have transformed their eating and exercise habits, lost a combined 120 pounds and are feeling so much more healthy. What is truly inspiring about this couple is that they have made these changes despite having several major medical setbacks, demanding jobs and children at home. I was thinking about why some people are so successful at making permanent changes and came up with a list of habits that are shared by people who succeed at making long-term changes in their diet and lifestyles.
Having a plan for eating healthfully is vital. When you don’t have your meals and snacks planned out, you will fall into the trap of eating what is convenient, not what is best for your body. Planning meals and snacks, making sure you have the food you need and bringing it with you to work or wherever you are prevents you from relying on high calorie convenience foods. Also, scheduling your exercise as though it is an appointment makes it more likely that you will stick with your plan
No one can do anything alone. Whether you have support from family members, friends, your place of worship, nutritionists, trainers, etc., make sure that you have people you can rely on to give you the support and encouragement you need to make it to your goal.
3. Don’t let setbacks become permanent.
So many of us have this “all or nothing” mentality. If we have a bad day or a bad week, we feel that our efforts are ruined. People who are successful and making permanent changes recognize that this is not the case. Sometimes life happens and despite our best intentions, we let ourselves get away from healthy habits. What is important is that you pick right back up and continue with your previous healthy changes. A day or week or month or year of bad eating is no reason not to pick up where you left off.
4. Reaching Out.
Knowing when you need more help to reach your goals is more difficult than it sounds. We may know, or think we know, what we have to eat or how we have to exercise but just never seem to make it work. Reaching out to a professional, like a Nourish Dietitian Nutritionist, can help to jump start motivation and give you a clear path to follow. If you have already been working with someone, it can be intimidating to go back after you have had a setback. Remember, no one is going to judge you, on the contrary, the ability to reach out for extra support shows strength.
5. Try New Things.
We all get stuck in a rut with the foods we eat or the types of exercise we do. I have found that people who successfully maintain a healthy lifestyle enjoy trying new foods, new recipes, new forms of exercise. This keeps things from becoming stagnant, so you are much more likely to keep doing healthy things. I love the site epicurious.com for trying new recipes. The next time you are at the store pick up a veggie that you have never tried before and give it a shot. Take a new exercise class at the gym.