Wednesday, February 10, 2016

4 Tips for Staying Motivated to Eat Right

It's no newsflash that eating a diet rich in vegetables, whole grains, legumes and fruits is good for you.  So, why doesn't everybody choose those foods everyday?  Because, knowledge is not enough to create consistent healthy behavior.  We need more motivation!  And, it doesn't help that the effects of healthy or unhealthy foods are often NOT immediate.

If every time you ate broccoli and beans you felt like you could accomplish anything, your jeans got looser, the dial on your age turned backwards, and you could feel your arteries clearing up, it would be easier to keep choosing those foods.  Similarly, if every time you ate a donut, burger or oversized meal at your favorite restaurant your jeans instantly got too tight and the buttons started popping off of your embarrassingly tight shirt, it would be easier to avoid those "foods!"  But, alas!  It is not so.  Which means we have to find motivators that are not simply immediate consequences of our choices.

So, how do you stay motivated?  How to you keep making choices that are in line with your values and your goals, even when you're craving junk food and a nap on the couch?  How do you reach for water and fruit when you're stressed and reaching for relief in the vending machine?  It's not easy, but there are some strategies that work.  And, the more consistently you endeavor to employ them, the more likely you are going to change the old habits into new health promoting ones.  The steps are simple, though not always easy.
  1. Get in touch with the deepest reasons you want to choose to eat mostly health promoting foods.  Factors that trigger an initial move toward change often have to do with health scares, tight clothes or upcoming social events.  And while those reasons for change are legitimate, you can probably dig deeper for reasons that actually tie in to your core values.  For example, if you value integrity, can you connect that value to your food choices and physical activity level today?  Integrity means getting clear on what really matters to you, and making choices in alignment with them.  I know there are people you love and things you want to do or continue doing in your life.  You want more years in your life and more life in your years, right?  What can you do today to make that happen?  Are those chips, burgers and milkshakes going to help you perform better in any part of your life?  Are they going  to keep you healthy, trim, energetic and lively?  Probably not, at least most of the time.  I challenge you to write down a core value or two that you hold dear.  How can you tie your desire to be healthy, eat health promoting foods and exercise to those values?  Remind yourself often of these motivators.  Create a visual reminder to put in your kitchen or your workspace.  It could be a saying or a photo or a full-on vision board.  It will help keep you on track!
  2. Make a plan about what and when you are going to eat each day or week & make sure you have the right food easily accessible.  Then, make a plan B!  Come up with a few go-to snacks and meals that you can eat even when you're away from home.
  3. Go to bed.  Seriously, go to bed early.  Get enough sleep every night.  Make it a priority!  When the brain and body are well-rested and rejuvenated, good decisions come much more easily.  Tired, sleep-deprived adults turn to food.  And the food they turn to is mostly empty calories of the refined carbohydrate variety.  Eating the empty calorie, high sugar food just keeps the cycle of cravings and poor choices going.
  4. Drink up!  Stay hydrated.  Drink water.  Drink herbal tea.  Have some decaf coffee if you want.  Sparkling or still water infused with whole fruit pieces is fun to drink too.  Make it easy by keeping a drink nearby at all times.  Find a few good drink choices you like and make sure you've got them available.  A few of my personal favorites include iced hibiscus tea, hot masala tea with a splash of vanilla soy milk, and good ole fizzy water with fresh lime and mint.  I'd love to hear what your favorites are too.  Share below or send me a message!

Keep on keepin' on.  Your life is totally worth the effort.  Cheers to you!

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  1. Many people resort to eating out or grabbing fast food for dinner for options that are convenient to eat throughout the day.