As a registered dietitian, Carrie Walder, knows a thing or two (or hundred!) about living a healthy, balanced lifestyle. It’s not about diets or every day workouts, but shifting your mindset to something more positive. Read on for her tips on feeling your best for 2019. For more advice, follow Carrie @walderwellness or go to her blog: www.walderwellness.com
Millions of people set New Year’s resolutions. Of these individuals, it’s estimated that roughly 50% set goals related to nutrition, exercise and weight loss—and about 80% fail. Why are these diet goals so hard to achieve? As a dietitian, I have witnessed clients, friends, and acquaintances engage in patterns that only set them up for failure: fixating on a number on the scale and setting unrealistic goals that revolve around restriction and deprivation.
This year, I want to help you meet your goals by sharing six ways to shift your health and nutrition mindset. Instead of punishing ourselves in the gym and restricting what we eat, let’s shift that focus on ways to make you feel your best.
1) Ditch The Diet. Paleo, Keto, Whole30—if diets really worked, why are there so many? Most likely, it’s because dieting is a multi-billion dollar industry that capitalizes on your feelings of failure. I want you to know that you do not have to be on ANY diet to reach your health goals. Our bodies are unique, and there is no one way of eating that will work for everyone.
Put it into practice: Ask yourself, “Can I eat this way for the rest of my life?” If you feel deprived just thinking about it, then it’s likely unsustainable. Give yourself the permission to not be on a diet, and instead, let’s get back to basics when it comes to nutrition (see point 5).
2) Embrace Your Uniqueness. We are all different shapes, sizes, and body types. Forcing our bodies to be something else makes us miserable. Instead, we should appreciate our bodies for everything they do for us. When we learn to accept ourselves, we open up the doors for real change. Put it into practice: Try a daily gratitude practice. Write down three non-aesthetic things that you love about your body (e.g. “I love how strong my legs are, and get me everywhere I need to be.”) There is research to support that a gratitude journaling can improve body image.
3) Take Your Focus OFF The Scale. Fixating on reaching an arbitrary number can lead to feelings of failure. While weight and BMI may be health markers, they aren’t the only ones. Instead of focusing on weight, focus on increasing healthy behaviors (e.g. exercise, cooking at home) and on how good and healthy you FEEL. Put it into practice: Ask yourself why you’re trying to lose weight—is it to simply lose weight or to reduce your risk for chronic disease? Finding intrinsic sources of motivation unrelated to a societal ideal makes it more likely to form healthy, long-term habit.
4) Progress, Not Perfection. It’s 100% normal to not eat or exercise “perfectly” all the time—part of being healthy is indulging in the foods you love and taking days to rest. Being able to enjoy life while also practicing healthier habits most of the time, is a big factor in making those habits stick.
Put it into practice: Try keeping a progress journal of your successes, no matter how big or small. Writing down 1-3 things you did for your health each day can show you how far you’ve come, and keep you motivated to keep going.
5) Bring It Back To Basics. Good nutrition comes down to eating a variety of whole food ingredients and creating colorful meals that are balanced in macronutrients. Switch the mindset from what foods you need to cut out, to all the foods that you can add in. Put it into practice: Build your plates by making them half non-starchy vegetables, a quarter complex carb, a quarter protein, plus a source of healthy fat. This “Plate Method” approach isn’t about counting calories, but about getting the nutrients you need to function optimally.
6) Make Movement Fun. Movement and exercise can improve our strength, energy, mental health, and reduce our risk for chronic diseases. And remember — ALL movement counts! You don’t have to run five miles or do an hour-long boxing class; simply walking to and from work or doing a gentle yoga video at home can provide the same health benefits.
Put it into practice: Choose something that’s enjoyable to YOU. The more you like what you’re doing, the more likely you will stick to it. Oh, and cute new workout gear from Fabletics help, too. 😉