Creating Healthy Lifestyle Habits
If there’s anything that the diet industry has taught us, it’s that there are a million ways to lose weight. Often these ways are dangerous, short-lived and the weight loss might not even be largely from fat. Studies like the infamous Biggest Loser study show that weight loss, especially rapid weight loss, without actually changing lifestyle habits is not smart or sustainable.
A healthier, more long-lasting and less miserable way to improve your health & potentially have a side effect of weight loss is to start creating healthy lifestyle habits. These are the not-flashy, difficult to monetize things like:
- Getting adequate sleep
- Being active daily
- Eating fruits & vegetables regularly
- Staying hydrated
- Eating slowly & mindfully
- Managing stress levels
- Getting outside often
- Limiting processed foods
If you do all things on that list well (instead of searching for the next fat-burning tea), you will be well on your way to feeling great, improving many health markers and likely weight loss if you are overweight.
It’s hard to switch the mindset from celebrating success on the scale to celebrating the success of acquiring behaviors — but if you haven’t tried this and you have a history of yo-yo dieting, give it a try!
Improving Body Image & Detaching Self-Worth From Your Body
“I’ll love myself when I weigh _______.”
“I’ll be happy when I’m a size _______.”
No you won’t.
I hear this refrain often from new or potential clients and it’s a sign that there’s a lot of mental work to do and likely in-tandem with a therapist. We think that being 10 or 100 pounds lighter or finally curing our acne or fixing ________ about our appearance will change everything. I’m not saying that it won’t feel good to accomplish those things, but it is not the magic key to happiness and self-love. That’s an internal thing.
The more we can detach our self-worth from what our appearance is — the better. Would you stop being friends with someone because they gained weight, developed acne or had another negatively perceived appearance change? Hopefully not. Yet we can treat ourselves terribly and get so wrapped up in our appearance that we think that is the most important part about us. It’s not.
Journaling can be a great place to start. Start training your brain to look for positives. Write down on paper things you say to yourself in your head and assess if those thoughts are helpful and actually true. Brainstorm who you want to be and what you want to do — those things will fulfill you more than a “bikini ready” body.
Increasing Awareness & Ability to Listen to Hunger Cues
This is a life skill you NEED.
Your body wants to keep you living, breathing and reproducing. It will let you know if you are eating too little or too much fuel do to so. Listen to those signals. (Hint: It’s harder to do if your diet is low in whole foods.)
Counting calories can be a helpful education tool. For most people, though, life-long calorie counting probably isn’t what they’re looking for (I happen to enjoy calorie counting & don’t find it obtrusive to my life, but it’s all about HOW you calorie count and your mindset around it). If increasing your hunger awareness teaches you that you tend to under eat, then calorie counting could be useful.
I tell my clients that your hunger & fullness cues won’t led you astray. Sometimes we confuse cravings with hunger, but if you spend time building awareness and practice honing in how you respond to hunger and fullness cues you’ll have a healthy, lifestyle habit. A key place to start improving your ability to ‘listen to hunger/fullness’ cues is to eat slowly and mindfully. That might sound too simple — but try it.
Having More Energy, Better Digestion & Feeling Good Overall
Of course, you’d say you want more energy, better digestion and to feel good. But would you choose weight loss over them? Is your crash diet really worth how it’s making you feel?
The weight loss at any expense is a dangerous, but not uncommon trap. You CAN change your lifestyle habits, feel good and get closer to your weight loss goals. It’s just going to be slow.
It’s important to question what we value and adjust our perspective if needed. You probably won’t notice those 3 lbs you’re worried about seeing on the scale. But you will notice if you’re an energy zombie and feel like crap every single day.
Maybe I’m a little biased or strange, but there is no better feeling than getting freaking stronger. Hitting a PR, doing more weight or reps than you’ve been able to do in a while — it’s simply the best.
Growth (mentally, physically, emotionally) feels good. For myself, it’s really boosted my confidence and self-assuredness over the years. Before I started lifting I was super shy and didn’t really feel like I was a go-getter or a resilient person. Now I would say resilience is one of my best qualities. I show up in a number of ways and am incredibly consistent. I learned and honed that skill by continually showing up in the gym.
Maybe for you it’s getting stronger on the bike or a yoga skill or at planks or push ups or a deadlift PR. Strengthening your body strengthens your mind. Don’t underestimate that!
What are your thoughts on this? Interested in building those lifestyle habits that can lead to weight loss as a side effect?