January 25, 2015
I think we might be addicted to the idea that anything worth achieving has to be really hard. You know those amazingly emotional commercials that come around during the olympics that show athletes as children, falling, struggling, and then ultimately competing and standing upon the podium in triumph? Well I love those commercials and they always leave me sniffling.
Sure, there are many challenges in life where the struggle makes the triumph more worthwhile. Many of the most amazing human feats have come after years of challenges.
Does eating healthy have to be one of these ultra-challenges too?
I would argue that no, eating healthily does not have to be hard. But we sure do a great job of making it tough!
Tip #1: Stop thinking that eating healthy is boring, restrictive and lame
The more we make the mental comparison that salads are for when you are trying to eat healthy and burgers are for when you are eating something that tastes good the more we perpetuate this mindset that healthy eating sucks.
Just like Jerry McGuire says, 'help me, help you'. You can make choosing lean choices at a restaurant or packing your own healthy lunch to be hard, lame and un-satisfying. I know, because I have done it. What does your mental chatter sound like? 'Ugh, here we go eating this stupid salad again because I can't have x, y, z.'
Start with the mindset. Eating to support your energy levels, fit into your favourite jeans easily and get healthy is important to you! If it wasn't, you probably wouldn't be reading this.
Check out the options on a restaurant menu, what would you enjoy that would leave you feeling great before, during and after you ate it?
What happens when our actions, priorities and goals all line up? Results.
Take ALLL the responsibility for your choices. No blaming your family, friends or co-workers, it really is all on you. This is great news because you have about 100 chances each day to make some awesome decisions.
Tip #2: Find solutions for when you #dontwannacook
Ohhhh breakthrough. I had a huge breakthrough on this topic over the past year. You see, I really love cooking! I love going to the grocery store, I even love chopping vegetables.
I love cooking until I don't feel like cooking.
Then the old way for me was to revert to ordering pizza or going out for sushi and eating a deep fried appetizer and a few rolls. The thing is, this is totally not a big deal. I still order pizza and I still eat sushi rolls, just not as often.
I now have a better back up plan for when I #dontwannacook (feel free to use this hashtag and share your healthy go-to meals made by someone else!) Like the photo below, I do not immediately go to the head space that if I am not cooking for myself that I have failed and I may as well resort to eating pizza every time.
This salmon, brown rice, broccoli and teriyaki sauce really hit the spot and was a perfect dish to grab from my local health food store, Community Natural Foods.
I go for sushi and order a green salad, spinach gomae, tuna sashimi and green tea. Love it, totally satisfying, a decently lean option and no dishes after.
Or I will order in from the greek restaurant down the street - a huge greek salad and chicken or lamb souvlaki skewers. Perfect? No. Good? Yes.
Tip #3: Find supposedly unhealthy foods that keep you on track
Have you ever heard about foods that you should never eat? Of course you have. What if I told you that including some of these so-called 'unhealthy' foods in your diet every few days could actually help you to stay on track?
The best part about this strategy is that it will be totally individual. The foods that I use every few days to avoid eating a whole bag of chips or a whole pizza (yep, totally done that before) include salami, red wine, chocolate, dark chocolate, a blizzard from dairy queen, shredded parmesan cheese and bacon.
I chose these specific foods for a couple reasons.
1. I like them.
2. I do not need to eat a huge amount in order to feel super satisfied.
3. They often add to an already nutrient dense meal like the one pictured below. A chopped salad with carrots, red pepper, spinach, onion and avocado with my faves salami and parmesan cheese.
For me, this is exactly what 'finding balance with food' is all about. What foods do I love to eat that are not considered healthy foods, but when I eat them in moderation 1-3 times a week I can consistently make better choices?
Ask yourself this question and if you do not know the answer, try my options and see what works for you.
Tip #4: Do less, but do it better and therefore more consistently
This tip can certainly aggravate the crowd who are 'doing everything but nothing is working'. Ah yes, I see that you are trying to do it all, but how successful are you at actually DO-ing these actions day in and day out. I can tell you that I was great at eating very clean Monday to Friday and when the weekend rolled around there wasn't a chance I could stay on track because I had used all my willpower, attention and focus all week long. Weekends for me equalled mindless mode.
The other day on our private Blast Fitness Lifestyle Club coaching group, one of our members shared an a-ha moment she had. By increasing her daily water intake to 2.5 litres each day she said her daily chocolate cravings mostly disappeared. Hydration has a huge effect on cravings, hunger and energy levels (not to mention our immune system).
What can you do every single day that takes a little bit of effort (not a ton) but helps you in other areas that you struggle with?
In the name of full disclosure, I have struggled a ton with finding a healthy balance with food. Whether it was counting calories, being super restrictive and avoiding social engagements because I didn't want to eat what everyone else was eating to the other end of the spectrum where I ate what everyone else was eating and didn't pay attention to a single thing. There is value to the struggle, I just do not think that we have to make eating healthy out to be this super hard, ultra challenging mountain to climb because it is just not.
Slow down. Do less, but do it more consistently. Stop listening to every single nutrition guru and fear mongering foodie and pick a couple important pieces you can do today to build a strong nutritional foundation.
Drink water, eat enough protein, get carbohydrate conscious via picking veggies and unprocessed starchy carbs. Start there and do your best in each moment.