I asked my mamas what they wanted to know about nutrition. One of the gals asked “How do you start eating healthier? Like, if you have a wedding in a month, what is the best thing to do to get ready for it?” Great question!
Now, if you know me or have read any of my blog posts or watched any of the live videos, you would know I am anti-quick-fix-diet. In fact, I wrote an entire article on it (you can find that here). So, I’m not going to spew out some formula to help you get wedding/beach/reunion-ready in 30 days. But, I do get where my friend is coming from when she gave me her thoughts. If you’ve fallen off the wagon, how do you get back on? Isn’t there some sort of formula to get me back in the saddle where I can then focus on all these healthy habits this RD keeps throwing at me?
Yes. I do have a few tips to help you get back on the wagon and back on the trail. I promise to get there, just hang with me for one sec while we do a little digging so I can maybe help you stay in the wagon and not fall off! No matter how bumpy the road!
One of the main reasons I detest “diets” is because they do not last. You turn your health routine upside down for a season, and maybe even see results. But – the results don’t last because the diet regimen cannot be maintained when regular life creeps back in. In addition to not maintaining results, dieters lose the ability to eat intelligently because the old diet rules still linger. This is my other issue with “diets.” Now, I get wanting to jump into a new challenge and have some nutrition excitement in life. The promises of increased energy, weight loss, disease-cures, belly fat disappearance, better hair, and even well behaved kids (doesn’t low-carb promise this?) are alluring. But is this approach sustainable after the promised time-frame and expectant results?
Before you throw caution to the wind and implement these kick-starters, I challenge you to reflect and possibly discover a few reasons that keep you from fully adopting healthy habits. You don’t need to dwell on this too much. The answers are generally right at the surface.
- Does your schedule restrict nutritious meal prep? Is convenience your top reason for choosing the foods you do?
- Do you lack support at home with either your husband or kiddos refusing to try different foods?
- Do you find it difficult to enjoy different food choices?
- Do you lack patience for long-term change and trend toward quick fixes? I need the hand-raised emoji for this one. This is me to a tee!
- Do you have deeply ingrained unhealthy habits that need to change in order to see results? Examples of this include smoking, soda-drinking, large portions, clean-your-plate-club, clean-your-kid’s-plate-club, untamable sweet tooth (read more about this here), and heavy alcohol consumption.
This list can seem overwhelming. But, starting from an honest place can be refreshing! This list is not exhaustive, by any means. It is a good starting point to identify any stumbling blocks that may keep from achieving your goals.
Now, on to that list!
- Institute a regular exercise habit. Exercise is great for you, blah, blah, blah. You’ve heard all the benefits of exercise, I’m sure. It does help with weight loss and weight management along with helping your mindset in adopting healthier lifestyle habits, such as good nutrition. So, when you exercise, you’re a little more motivated to make healthier choices with food. It’s the chicken. Or the egg. Whichever comes first. Whatever your exercise frequency is now, try adding one day a week for a month. Then, add another day a week each month until you are working out 5-6 days a week. Hitting SLAM class every weekday with a weekend bike ride, family hike, or local race sounds like a great schedule to me!
- Eliminate liquid calories and increase your water intake. Most of us drink way too much sugar and far too less water. For a time – 10 days, 21 days, 30 days – nix the flavored coffee creamer, sodas, juice, energy drinks, and alcohol (oh no she didn’t…) and replace those calories with plain ol’ water. Set a water goal of at least 64 ounces of water each day and keep at it. Hydrating your body will make you feel amazing, help increase your fortitude at workouts, and can decrease hunger since our bodies will trigger hunger signals when thirst signals are unanswered. Enjoy flavored fizzy water like LaCroix, that does not have real or fake sugar or water steeped with cucumber and mint for a refreshing take on delicious H2O.
- Try to keep your dinner meal the same size or smaller than breakfast. This does not mean skip dinner. This RD does not recommend skipping meals at all. When your dinner meals are smaller, it helps to create hunger in the morning and daytime when you are generally more active. You’ll start to fuel accordingly – more nutrition in the morning and afternoon when you’re active and less at night when you’re moving at a slower pace. You may need to beef up your breakfast in order to achieve this reverse pyramid effect. You can find more about breakfast here.
- Commit to a 30-day healthy nutrition challenge with a supportive spouse or friend. A great way to immediately implement healthier food habits is to follow the 100 Days of Real Food guidelines. Check it out here. My husband and I did this challenge a few years ago and really improved our already semi-healthy habits. Basically, all foods are acceptable except junk food, real and fake sugar, fried food, and fast food. There’s no calorie counting or carb-hating. It’s just clean eating. There are tons of recipes on her site that help you make delicious food within the guidelines. Having “rules,” commitment, and a time frame help to reset healthy eating habits and set boundaries where you feel confident to decline the office donut or the kiddo’s fruit roll-up.
Getting back in the wagon is doable! While you’re up there, make sure to look out for those stumbling blocks that knocked you off before. Addressing those first may keep you from falling off again!