A simple strategy in getting back on track post New Year, holiday, weekend festivities, etc.
“Without reflection, we go blindly on our way, creating more unintended consequences, and failing to achieve anything useful.”
-Margaret Wheatley; speaker, consultant
Around this time we are post New Year festivities, but you can definitely apply this to other types of celebrations. Like where you may have spent a few days recovering and getting back into your general routine to feel like yourself, and thinking about which diet, cleanse, treatment, etc. can get you back on track - whether or not it’s worked in the past? On the flip side, what if you knew yourself so well that you knew exactly what to do to feel like yourself again, or perhaps better, and trusted that your body will respond with those results?! Aka those pants will button quite a bit easier.
That simple strategy is called consistency- old research said it took 21 days to form a habit if done everyday, new research says 66 days (a little over 2 months) to sometimes 200+ days depending on the person. It will also take more than just willpower, controlled by the anterior cingulate gyrus located deep in our brain, a vital organ that uses more energy per pound than almost any other organ in our body. So eating healthy also means literally feeding our brain in order to make those decisions to help with our health goals. However, it’s actually more intention than willpower that’s needed to make all these health related changes. What’s your hell-bent why? The reason no one could ever ever make you think differently about your decision? You must connect to that intention, which strengthens your willpower, and as a result helps keep you consistent.
Awareness is important because if we want to lose weight, a common concern, we can’t lose weight if we’re focusing on what’s making us gain weight. This is about changing habits, not self-deprivation (here’s also a willingness to align differently to how we think about food, habits, and how we’re treating ourselves- and no, this is not always easy). Just like we need time to change, so does our bloodwork. In fact, unless medication is being monitored, bloodwork is recommended around minimum every 3 months as that’s when we may be able to see more change.
Yet what happens when you’ve been told your bloodwork is normal but you still don’t feel your best? This happens a lot actually.. not enough tests, ranges are too wide, tests aren’t accurate (or there’s a better option), etc. Either way, we can address the big picture. That extra pound(s) of fat can alter the balance in our body by making us hungrier, moodier, more lethargic, increasing our cravings, which then if we give into these, we’re literally feeding into the cycles and perpetuating just not feeling super hot. However, if you think back to your habits before all this, when you felt your best, that’s what you need to do to help get you back on track- which isn’t easy when your body is literally telling you to go eat a candy bar. Seriously- bad gut bacteria loves sugar, for example, so some of your cravings may be from there too.
Here’s how you can increase consistency:
Know that it’s not ‘just you’ - you’re also on a bit of an upward battle against physiology- We know and/or hear about the mind/body connection, and it’s real. The longer we haven’t been eating/living as well as we’d like, the harder it can be to get those habits beforehand. Whenever we’re making new habits, our brain goes a little wonky because it just got used to another type of change- it’s ok, just keep on goin’ through it.. you got this. Forgive yourself, know it may happen again, you know it’s all about consistency, and breathe. We need patience with ourselves, and our body needs it too- the more we reflect, the easier it becomes the next time around.
Cold turkey- Yup, just rip the bandaid off- get back to your routine ASAP regardless of how you feel or keep thinking about that new TV show or chocolate bar. Moving through like this tells the cells in your body your fine, and strengthens your willpower. So next time you reset, you already know the formula and your body knows what to expect.
Nourish your body (here’s all you can add in to your lifestyle)- We know it’s not just about focusing on what we can’t have, because that’s just a somewhat depressing, negative/self-depriving message to send to our body (can perpetuate that cycle by increasing inflammation). Feed your brain with healthy fats like avocado, salmon, and nuts, decrease cravings and food intake with protein and fiber like beans, and/or animal protein, and boost your energy and nutrient status with complex carbohydrates like beans, berries, and vegetables (especially those dark leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables).
We know that we’re the only ones in the universe as who we are, so we should treat ourselves this way! One day low fat was the way to go, and ironically now the ketogenic diet (a very fat based diet) has taken center stage. Yet not everyone does well with one particular diet, which goes along with all of our differences. Pay attention to what you’re doing, log your food if you need, know there may be some bumps in the road, but this is about changes over the long term. The more our body knows we’re good, inflammation can go down, and weight can come off. Patience.. (I know I know.. I don’t always like hearing this word either!). Here’s some additional strategies to eventually add in as a consistent part of your lifestyle to take things up another notch!