Establishing any new habit is hard. Establishing healthy eating habits is even harder. The foods we choose, how we eat, when we eat…these are all aspects of our lives that are very deeply ingrained in us. There is a reason you haven’t been following healthier habits for years and years. However, if you’re trying to lose weight, clearly whatever habits you have in place aren’t working for you. Realizing and accepting this is 10 steps in the right direction.
Recently, I noticed myself saying something to many clients: it’s not about perfection, it’s about consistency.
Typically, clients will have one day where they wake up really motivated. They eat a perfectly balanced, high-protein breakfast, meet their vegetable needs with a leafy salad, go for a 30-minute run, and satisfy their sweet tooth with 1 square of rich dark chocolate at night. Voila. Life is looking good, they’re feeling good, and clearly this healthy eating thing really isn’t that hard after all.
Fast forward to the next day. All their motivation and will-power were used yesterday while trying to fight years and years of old habits.So today it’s back to square one. Why? Because striving for perfection is exhausting and unrealistic. Motivation and will-power are a finite reservoir. Eventually, you will wear yourself down. When the going gets tough…the tough go back to their easy habits. This sets people up for a sense of failure and a heartbreaking “I can’t do it” mentality. Well guess what? If you don’t think you can do it, you can’t. Healthy eating is 90% in your head.
How do we fix this vicious cycle? Simple. We throw “perfection” out the window. We accept that switching dried fruit to fresh fruit consistently is better than overhauling the entire diet. We accept that lifting weights for 15 minutes a day is better than running for an hour on only one day. We accept that simply ditching juice and switching to fruit-infused water is enough. For now. Because building on these small successes is the true goal and marker of successful of weight loss.
Establishing healthy eating habits is the ultimate marathon. No quick sprints, fast-fixes or complete diet overhauls for you. Often clients ask “but is there really enough to see changes?” Well, it’s a step in the right direction and more than you were doing yesterday. In my book, that’s a win. What’s more is that success with small health changes, leads to increased motivation and empowerment to continue making changes. Fail on your big, “perfect” eating goals and no one wants to try again. That “all or nothing” mentality is the death of lasting healthy eating habits.
Game Plan: Start small. Do something small really well for 1 week. Than add in something else really small the next week. Eventually, all these small successes empower you to stick with the changes and builds up your motivation and will-power to take on bigger challenges down the road. Because ultimately, losing weight and eating well will likely take big changes (sorry, but you knew that already). However, the journey getting you to goal is the difference between long-term success and feeling good about your new lifestyle and the all-too-familiar vicious cycle of disappointment.