3 Habits Tweaks To Create BIG Health Results
At the onset of my eating disorder, before being hospitalized, my parents were desperate to find a solution. They hadn’t yet realized I needed to work from the inside out, so it made logical sense to them that a dietitian would get me to eat. Unfortunately there were many problems with this, one being the dietitian was a calorie counter - just like me.
As you can probably imagine, this was incredibly toxic and destructive for a number of reasons, and ended as quickly as it started. Even though I eventually recovered physically from the ED (put on weight and maintained it) - I was still very rigid when it came to food.
And while I “looked” healthy, I was anything but healthy. I didn’t trust my ability to eat without rules so I counted calories, I ate as many processed foods as veggies, and I was so detached from my body that I couldn’t recognize a physical or emotional cue if it stepped in front of me.
I eventually became so tired of my unhealthy relationship with food and learned so much about the food and fitness industry that disturbed me, that I began to do the deep work so that I could shift from surviving to thriving.
In today’s society we are inundated with “advice” and “solutions” from the fitness and food industries that is all created to put money in their pockets. The politics that go on within these industries is scary, and it’s harming us in a BIG way.
The diets and programs, the products and services - they are sold as the fix you need and more and more people are buying into it…and it’s coming at a price to our health.
In fact, studies are now saying that this will be the fist time in history that we begin to see the average lifespan decrease. (That’s scary stuff.)
The reality is, if a healthy foundation isn’t built, all the rules, strict meals plans, and diet programs will not only fail but they can lead to disordered eating habits in addition to hormonal imbalances, metabolic issues, a compromised gut, and even anxiety.
YOU are the only one who knows what your body needs and what makes you feel your best. I don’t care what all the marketing tells you, No one diet is perfect for everyone, and what works for you now might not work for you a year from now. The only way you will know this, is by starting to pay attention.
If you’re like me, you might have stopped paying attention. You may have become so reliant on what everyone else says you should do, that you’ve forgotten how to even listen to your own body.
If you’re a busy high achiever it’s likely you live life on autopilot, and probably pretty accurate to say you aren’t noticing sensations of your body and mind. You might plow through life ignoring all the feelings and the very idea of being “mindful” or “listening to your body” is a concept you can’t even begin to grasp.
It is definitely the ultimate goal, but it’s a process...and it doesn’t happen overnight.
Learning or re-learning to “listen to your body” and understand the cues it is sending you - hunger and fullness vs. loneliness and stress becomes a practice in being mindful. Which in our society is a rarity. (And you’re already like, mindful?! WTF is that!)
It’s about paying attention. Tuning in. Slowing down long enough to know what the hell your body (and mind) is saying to you.
If you’ve become detached from your body, you probably don’t trust your ability to just “listen”. You likely recognize the extremes - when you’re STARVING or so stressed you can’t breathe. But anything in between, forget it...
Don’t worry, if you’re shaking your head thinking - THAT’S ME! - you aren’t alone.
If you want to get to the point, like I did, where you have (better) awareness and stop relying on fad diets and calorie counting - you have to practice.
You aren’t going to do it perfectly out of the gate, and that’s okay. The idea is you begin to notice what’s happening. It starts by simply asking yourself questions as you move through the day. How am I feeling physically? How am I feeling emotionally?
You’ll notice the shift when you begin to hear yourself saying things like...
“I want that bottle of wine because I’m stressed, I’ll call my friend to talk instead”
“I’m not really hungry, I’m tired. I’ll go for a walk instead.”
“I could eat more, but I’m satisfied”
Learning your body cues has to become a conscious practice of asking yourself questions about how you are feeling - both physically and mentally.
If you are a calorie counter this work will be challenging, but as a recovered calorie counter I can tell you it is possible AND incredibly important. Beyond the fact that calorie counting is rigid and no fun, it also isn’t an effective strategy, and here’s why:
Calorie counts of food (labeled & unlabeled) are pretty imprecise (up to 25%)
We don’t absorb all of the calories we actually consume (or they are absorbed in the wrong way)
How you prepare food changes its calorie load (cooked or raw)
People aren’t great at eyeballing portion sizes (duh)
The health of your microbiome (your gut) determines the health of your body
If you want to eat better, you don’t have to get weird about it. You definitely don’t need to measure or weigh or count every ounce of food you consume - you just need to reframe your approach.
As you begin to pay attention to all of the sensations and take note of how you’re feeling physically and mentally, here are a few little things you can do to uplevel your nutrition:
Drink a HUGE glass of water every morning before you do anything else. You lose moisture from your body while you sleep without any replenishment. Dehydration can cause mental fog, muscle cramps, fatigue, dry skin, and excessive hunger. TIP: Fill up a big glass and set it beside your bed before you go to sleep. When your alarm goes off, get to drinking!
Make sure you are getting enough fiber rich foods (naturally). Fiber keeps you satiated, moves things through your digestive system, and prevents bloating. Make sure you are getting fiber at every meal. TIP: One avocado has roughly 13 grams of fiber...guacamole anyone?
Try eating within a 10 hour window. Studies show that when you eat is as important as what you eat. Time restricted eating gives your body time to rest by, allows insulin levels to stabilize and lowers inflammation (among other things). You’ll sleep better, likely have more energy, and have an easier time maintaining a healthy weight. TIP: This does not mean eating less or eating junk, just shortening the timeframe you eat within.
Living a healthy lifestyle doesn’t mean you are doing everything perfectly, it means that you are consciously and consistently making one positive habit tweak at a time that will move you in the right direction.
What’s one thing you will introduce to your routine and focus on doing consistently? Share in the comments!