How many times have you started a new diet? Or new workout regimen? How many times have have you said “I really need to get healthier, and in better shape,” but never fully committed to anything? It’s always exciting to begin a new nutrition plan, a new workout activity, or a new ‘plan’ to follow. But how long does that last? Most likely no longer than one month, and unfortunately you are back to where you started.
This vicious cycle continues because we don’t spend enough time modifying our actual behaviors. Our brain works in patterns, and our behaviors mirror those patterns. To actually break our habits that we are so used to, we need to change our behaviors.
So how do we break our unhealthy behaviors of eating before bed, having cookies after dinner, drinking too much coffee, or searching for food in the vending machine because we forgot to eat lunch?
We break these habits slowly. Some people do prefer the ‘cold turkey’ method where you completely change all behaviors at once, but for some it’s too harsh to adjust.
To change our behaviors, we first have to be aware of our behaviors. Write down everything you eat for a minimum of 3 days. Write down what times you eat, what you eat, what you snack on, what you drink, how you feel after your meals, and if you are exercising. This is the first step in taking a deeper look into your behaviors. If you feel threatened to change these behaviors, that’s another indication you are attached to your behaviors, and most likely need to change those as well.
If you see some patterns that you know are not benefitting you, start by changing one pattern per week. For example: First thing in the morning you have one cup of coffee with 3-4 tablespoons of a sweetened coffee creamer that is full of sugar. (Most sweetened coffee creamers are made with high fructose corn syrup, and corn syrup solids, not something you want to start your day off with). To make a positive change, try switching to organic half and half and stevia instead of the creamer. After your brain and body are happy with the switch, you can dive a little deeper. The following week you may be motivated to try an organic coconut creamer as an alternative.
See how many choices there are? Make your small changes exciting, research them, find out ‘why’ you are choosing a healthier option. This will keep your compliance higher, because you understand and believe the reason behind it.
Once you have tackled one behavior change, the rest will follow.
Stay Tuned for Part 2, on how to crush your nutrition goals!
Liza M. Scott MS, RD, CISSN