Sometimes we can make big changes and sustain them for a period of time, but then we find ourselves slipping back into bad habits or old patterns of behaviour. Has this ever happened to you?
You initially think you’ve had a breakthrough, but what has actually happened is a ‘fakethrough’ ! The pull of your old habits and behaviours is strong, because you haven’t made changes to your beliefs about yourself or about the situation.
There are two useful strategies I have found to help my clients make positive changes in their lives and sustain those changes.
- Make the change a habit.
- Change our beliefs and identity around certain behaviours.
The reason making something a habit works to make changes that you can sustain is that once something becomes a habit, it eliminates the need for decision making and self-control.
As Gretchen Rubin says in her book Better than Before “It takes self-control to establish good habits. But once the habit is in place, we can effortlessly do the things we want to do.”
If you work to create good habits around your health, you then carry out these healthy behaviours without needing to think too much about it, which then frees up precious mental space to live the rest of your life.
For me, this has been really important. I used to want to exercise most days of the week, but if I didn’t work out in the morning then all day it would play on my mind: “Will I work out today or not?” “When will I fit in a workout?” etc. This would take up mental energy, and if I then didn’t workout I would feel guilty about it.
Eventually I realised that I needed to work out first thing in the morning and ‘get it done.’ Once I made this decision I worked hard to make this a habit. Now I can genuinely say I workout almost every morning and it is not a big deal. I don’t really think about it anymore, it is just part of my morning routine.
If I miss a day, I know I will get back on track the next day, so I don’t spend any time or energy worrying about the missed workout.
Because it suits me to do things first thing in the morning, I have managed to build a morning routine that includes meditation, reading, journaling and working out. None of it requires much mental effort for me anymore as I have been doing it for years. Recently, I was able to easily add in the habit of brain training (using the Elevate app which I now love!) because I just added it in after my morning meditation. I didn’t need to find a ‘time’ to do it, which meant it was an easy habit to adopt.
Mindset, Mantras and Affirmations
The second strategy that works really well is shifting your mindset and beliefs around certain behaviours you want to adopt. For example, once I started telling myself (and believing) “I am not a junk food eater” I really did stop eating junk food.
Another one I learnt from Melissa Hartwig (Whole30) is “I am a healthy person with healthy habits.” This one works brilliantly for me too – when I am trying to make decisions – for example around what to eat for a particular meal – saying this to myself always helps me make better choices.
Shifting my mindset away from counting calories and towards nourishing myself for good health was really key for me. I made this shift a few years back now. I have a list of mantras that remind me of this:
- Just Eat Real Food!
- Only ‘Big Food’ benefits if I eat junk food.
- Count nutrients, not calories.
- Eat crap, feel like crap!
- Low nutrient foods = lethargy + cravings, high nutrient foods = energy + satiety.
- You don’t have to eat less, you just have to eat right.
- Eating well is a form of self-care (nourishment), eating badly is a form of self-harm / self-sabotage (depletion).
There are also a couple of ‘rules’ that I love, written by others, that always remind me to stay on track. Michael Pollen, always a source of great wisdom says:
- Don’t eat anything your great grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.
- Don’t eat anything with more than five ingredients, or ingredients you can’t pronounce.
- Stay out of the middle of the supermarket; shop on the perimeter of the store.
- It is not just what you eat but how you eat. “Always leave the table a little hungry.”
- Enjoy meals with the people you love.
- Don’t buy food where you buy your petrol.
- Eat all the junk food you want – as long as you cook it yourself. That way, it’ll be less junky, and you won’t eat it every day because it’s a lot of work.
I’m a nutrition coach certified by Precision Nutrition and I love this ‘law’ from the founder of Precision Nutrition, John Berardi.
Berardi’s First Law: If a food is in your house or possession, either you, someone you love, or someone you marginally tolerate, will eventually eat it. The upshot of this is: If a healthy food is in your house or possession, the above also applies.
And my final three: Make whole and minimally processed food the basis of your diet. No plate without veg. Never leave home without food.
I’m on day 3 today of 28 days optimising my nutrition. I’ve decided to post the previous day’s food rather than the current day’s food as that way it doesn’t matter what time I write my blog post.
So here’s what I ate yesterday:
Breakfast: Coffee with coconut cream, chia pudding made with chia seeds, coconut milk, desiccated coconut, raisins and blueberries. Below I have posted my chia pudding recipe for you.
Lunch: Ham salad with carrots, green cabbage, fresh parsley and basil, avocado, mayo, extra-virgin olive oil. Fresh blueberries.
Dinner: BBQ’d chicken shawarma, Jersey new potatoes, tomato, cucumber and fresh mint salad with lemon juice and extra-virgin olive oil. Organic red wine x 2 glasses.
Snacks: Coconut flakes, chargrilled artichokes, gherkins, pickled onions, sun-blushed tomatoes, coffee with coconut cream.
I managed 10+ different types of fruit and veg throughout the day (including the fresh herbs which are very nutrient-dense).
I want to start tracking in Cronometer what I eat so I can share how I am doing with nutrient-density. I will only do that this month as I hate tracking food using apps!
I will also try and get better at taking pictures!
Here’s my Chia Pudding recipe for you:
Chia Pudding with Strawberries
- 50g chia seeds (this is about 3 tbsp.)
- 200-250ml additive-free coconut milk (you could use almond or other nut
- 1 orange, zested and juiced
- 1 tbsp. maple syrup or raw honey (optional)
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract or the vanilla seeds from half a dried vanilla pod
- Handful of fresh strawberries to garnish
- Add the chia seeds, coconut milk, orange zest, orange juice, maple syrup or honey and vanilla to a mixing bowl and mix very thoroughly.
- Place into a glass jar or bowl and place in the fridge overnight.
- In the morning, give the chia pudding a good stir, add more coconut milk if it needs loosening and then top with sliced strawberries.
Taking in the Good (write down three good things that have happened or that you have noticed)
- Picking my first elderflowers of the year today, the smell of them was divine!
- Sitting in the sunshine in the garden listening to the birds.
- Making delicious healthy food for lunch.
What good things will you remember about today, the only Wednesday 9th June 2021 we will ever have?
Hello, I’m Chloe. I’m a nutrition and health coach and I’m on a mission to inspire & support women so they can go from feeling fatigued to feeling fabulous!
I help women who are FED up of being overweight, addicted to sugar and feeling tired ALL THE TIME to lose weight and optimise their health by fixing hormonal, digestive, autoimmune and energy issues.
My step-by-step programme, Revitalise, will help you lose weight, get back your energy, restore vitality and create lifelong health using the power of beautiful & delicious REAL FOOD.
I’m here to make it easy for you to eat healthy, delicious food without counting calories or feeling deprived. You’ll reset your relationship with food, shift your mindset and build new habits for a complete health transformation!
Disclaimer: All information provided is for informational purposes only, and is not to be construed as medical advice or instruction. Please consult your GP or a qualified health professional on any matters regarding your health and wellbeing. I am a nutritional educator and do not dispense medical advice nor prescribe treatment. While nutritional support can be an important complement to your medical care, a nutritional therapy program is not a substitute for the diagnosis, treatment, or care of a disease, illness, or injury by a medical provider. Nutritional evaluations and lifestyle assessments are not intended for the diagnoses of disease.
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