When you’re just beginning your healthy lifestyle, it can feel really overwhelming – I know, I’ve been there!
When I first started changing my diet, I was solely driven by the desire to lose weight. I’d reached my heaviest weight ever and just generally did not feel good in my body…
I was desperate to get my confidence back. That’s when I started researching topics like weight loss, nutrition, and overall health.
As I learned, I slowly started implementing small changes…starting with my food.
As I began reducing the amount of processed junk and sugary food I ate and introduced more veggies, fruits and other real, whole foods, I started feeling SO. MUCH. BETTER.
Before I even saw any changes in the way my body looked – I was hooked. I had more energy, better digestion, and felt so good, mentally and physically!
Today I’m sharing 5 habits for beginning your healthy lifestyle. These are the small shift I made that got me some “quick wins”, which kept me motivated to keep going.
Habit #1 – If you can’t pronounce it, don’t eat it.
I honestly don’t know where I heard this phrase, but it was my motto in the beginning of my health journey.
I’d read a lot of nutrition books (trying to find the best diet for weight loss, if I’m honest) and I started to notice one thing they all had in common… They all warned against the dangers of highly processed food.
Not only is it way easier to overeat highly processed foods, but most of them also contain artificial additives, chemicals and other ingredients that could potentially be damaging to your metabolism, your gut microbiome, and your brain health.
Here’s the easy rule I used when choosing what to buy: If you can’t recognize all the ingredients, don’t put it in your cart. Easy as that!
This quick little rule helped me dramatically reduce my intake of processed junk food. It also got me in the habit of reading ingredient labels – which is so important!
Habit #2 – Prepare one meal per day in advance.
When I was first going through the process of changing my diet, I was very short of time. I worked 9-10 hour days with an hour commute both ways. I didn’t have much spare time to mess around in the kitchen.
Preparing my work lunches in advance became a crucial habit for me.
I didn’t want to spend my whole Sunday food prepping. Instead, I committed to preparing just 5 salads for my workday lunches each Sunday evening.
To follow through on this commitment, I had to go grocery shopping every weekend – another beneficial habit!
By loading up on healthy groceries and preparing my lunches, I started each week feeling confident and committed to my new lifestyle.
**For more on how to get started with meal planning/prep, be sure to check out my blog post: How to Create a Weekly Meal Plan (And Actually Stick to It).
Habit #3 – Ask yourself, “What can I add-in?”.
As I continued learning more about nutrition, I became fascinated with the power of real food!
In the past, I only thought about nutrition in the context of calories. I thought low calorie = good and high calories = bad. But now, I was learning a whole new story about food.
The vitamins, minerals, amino acids, phytochemical, and essential fatty acids found in vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds and animal products, can do so much more than simply providing calories. Getting enough of these nutrients can literally be the difference between life and death in extreme cases.
More commonly, it can mean the difference between going through life with…
- Stomach pains
- Joint pain
- And a cascade of other hormonal and metabolic issues…
Or, going through life feeling energized, clear, confident, stable, and healthy!
I’m not saying these ailment are always food related, but often, they are.
It makes me sad to think how many people go their entire life believing they’re doomed to feel bad forever, never realizing that easy lifestyle shifts could create massive improvements.
When I started looking at food through the lens of “What can I add in to make this more nutritious?” instead of “What can I take out to eat the least amount of calories?” everything changed for me.
That one mindset shift will take you out of the restrictive, dieting mindset and into the healthy, balanced mindset needed to truly create long term change.
Habit #4 – Hydrate before you caffeinate.
Another habit I implemented that had a much bigger impact than I expected, was drinking water first thing in the morning.
In the beginning I had to set myself up for this the night before or I’d always forget. I’d fill up a large mason jar with water (and a straw!) and leave it on my nightstand. Then, my daily challenge was to drink it all before I got out of bed the next morning.
At the start, I tried it as a way to help me get reach the standard minimum of drinking half your body weight in ounces of water each day.
Shockingly to me, I started having way more energy in the mornings and throughout the day. I stopped having my mid-morning snack cravings and stopped having headaches too!
With all this new energy, I stopped needing so much caffeine to get through the day…which also helped me sleep better at night.
It’s been years and I still make sure my body is fully hydrated every morning before I have my coffee. I’ve now seen this tips help tons of my clients, friends and family members too.
Your body will be dehydrated after going all night without water. Giving it the H2O it craves is the best way to start the day!
Habit #5 – Focus on what you can control and forget the rest.
I know from experience how easy it is to get sucked into perfectionism with food.
You probably don’t actually think to yourself, “I need to be perfect”, but you might feel super guilty when you eat something unhealthy. Or maybe you always eat healthy in your day-to-day life so you freak out any time you’re not in total control of your food.
If this is you, hear me please! – Your health is always an outcome of what you do most of the time, not some of the time.
Just like one healthy meal isn’t going to make you skinny, one unhealthy meal isn’t going to make you fat or unhealthy either.
You’re inevitably going to be in some situations in life when you aren’t in total control of your food.
As long as you’re eating real, whole food most of the time, there’s no need to stress it.
Make the best choices you can given the circumstances and be proud of yourself.
Focus on what you can control and forget the rest.
**Be sure to check out my blog post on How to Overcome Perfectionism With Food for more advice on this.
One Last Thing…
If you’re just thinking about starting your health journey, I want to encourage you to get started before you feel ready. The timing will never feel 100% perfect, life is too messy.
Don’t think of this journey in terms of a short-term goal like “losing (fill in the blank) pounds”. Instead, I’d challenge you to dig a little deeper…
- What kind of person do you want to become?
- What sort of habits does that person have?
- What are the thoughts that person thinks?
- How are they feeling as they go throughout their day?
If you can answer those questions, you’ve got your road map for success.
You know the habits to begin implementing, the thoughts to repeat in your mind as you go, and the feelings you need to practice generating on purpose.
If you’re at the beginning of a health journey or you’ve been at it for a while and feel stuck, I’d encourage you to read more about my health coaching program here.
In it, I help women just like you create healthy lifestyle changes that allow them to reach their health goals without restrictive diets, calorie counting, or any other unsustainable measure.
I’ve done it, I’ve helped others do it, so I know it’s possible for you.
Now it’s time to get started!
August 5, 2021