Wellness season is upon us. A time when nutrition, health, and wellness get a hefty spotlight for a short period of time. Part of the problem is that the spotlight is short-lived; but another part of the problem is that the messaging is usually restrictive, exclusive in many ways, and involves quick fixes (which we know don’t work, right?). As someone who has seen it from many angles – a nutrition and exercise professional, and a human myself who saw the 90’s dieting fads confuse the heck out of all of us, I feel quite qualified to write this newsletter.
If you are someone who is interested in making a positive change for your health and wellness, then I think it’s important to celebrate you. To cheer you on. To say that it’s admirable if you’re interested in improving your health.
As someone in your corner, I want you to succeed. Based on experience in my virtual nutrition practice and my education, I can tell you that most people who “fail” at making their New Year’s goals or resolutions have an approach that is too restrictive and isn’t sustainable.
What I’m going to tell you isn’t sexy. I’m not going to give you click bait or sell you some detox tea or a supplement that will change everything and help you lose 10 pounds. I’m going to be real with you and share that dieting trends and quick fixes don’t work long-term. In fact, they usually do way more harm than good. Maybe this is something you’ve noticed personally or in someone close to you. If you’ve taken the extra initiative and done some legit research you’ll even see it in evidence-based literature (studies) that dieting is bogus unless it involves a lifestyle change. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t make changes that stick, and it’s not to bring shame or hate on anyone either. If you want to reach a goal and keep up with that goal then you have to focus on consistency and adjustment. You need to find something you can do long-term and adapt as needed or desired (because your body and mind change based on needs and wants). Set up your wellness foundations (Do you get why I titled my workshops this way?) of diet, movement, adequate sleep, decreased toxic load, and stress management to approach health and wellness from multiple angles to be the best version of you.
If you’re up for figuring out positive behavior changes while ditching the guilt and restrictions (ex: eliminating the fad diets) you have to figure out what works for you (and only you). Let’s ditch the negative mindset towards food and your body (It hears you!) and be works-in-progress.
When setting nutrition intentions, make sure that they are sound (nutritionally, emotionally, physically, financially, etc.) and feasible (I often see people want to reach goals that involve going 0 to 100 or have an all-or-nothing approach, which has a high rate for being a disaster – honesty here!).
Here are a few extra tips that I emphasize for clients who are looking to improve their health:
- Make it work for you. Find what works for you (and only you) and keep going.
- Make sure your goals are realistic. You want your goals to make sense! And you want to be able to pursue them (and consistently). If they aren’t realistic, there’s a high probability that you won’t meet those goals. And if you do meet those goals they most likely won’t be sustainable.
- Be honest with yourself. This is helpful with what you’re willing to do and if your goals are realistic and feasible or not.
- Mindset matters when we are talking about food: being aware of negative feelings towards food is part of the mindfulness equation. To do so, we have to stop villainizing food into “good” vs “bad.” Labeling foods or food groups in this way can be a slippery slope, not just on our minds but on our bodies.
- Ditch the guilt and heal negative emotions with food. This is something that takes time, but until you ditch the negativity the cycle of dieting and inconsistency continues.
- Control that stress and the emotions attached to certain foods. Stressing about not having a specific food or avoiding it can do more damage (think increased cortisol and holding on to weight) than just eating the food that you were craving.
- Focus on understanding how different foods impact your body and health on both short and long-term bases. This goal is supported by lifestyle choices over time with the philosophy to create a healthier relationship with food mentally and physically.
- Be kind to yourself. You can be your biggest cheerleader or your worst enemy, which one are you going to choose?
Food for thought: Ultimately, approaching nutrition, health, and wellness changes are up to you. You can do all of the things or follow all of the advice in regard to one foundational pillar (let’s say food), but if one pillar is off (or really off) it can only help so much. This is why it is important to tailor your own approach that is individualized to you and something that you’ll be consistent with. Tune into your body, listen to it, figure out what works and what doesn’t.
If you’re looking for a great place to start — to learn how to implement wellness on your own terms and set realistic and feasible intentions for the year, I highly recommend you check out my Wellness Foundations Workshops, especially 365 Wellness: Wellness Beyond January.
Are you setting any intentions this year? Any experience with short-term dieting? I’m inviting you to chat it out below and leave a comment.