Getting Active & Staying Active

Monday Lifestyle Education Discussion:
“Getting Active & Staying Active”
Is there anyone who DOESN’T know that exercise and physical activity is great for your health? I am confident that everyone reading this post believes in the healing power of exercise. But having knowledge that something is good for you doesn’t naturally evolve into you ACTUALLY doing something about it.  What motivates one person to change, may not motivate another. To simply say that “exercise is good for you” rarely inspires someone to adopt an active lifestyle

So let me ask you: Do you engage in regular physical activity that improves your health? If yes, then why? If no, then why not? This is a simple question, but requires deep exploration of your personal values and goals. I’ll admit that the answers are often out of reach from our consciousness. We say we want health, but somehow our actions contradict our wishes. So what’s the solution? Let’s figure that out!

– Determine the WHY behind your exercise habits. What do you want it to accomplish for you? Improved energy, weight loss, alleviate anxiety/depression, improve strength, functional mobility?
– What are the pros and cons of adopting the exercise behavior? (An initial investment in time and energy is required but it pays off)
– What demotivates you? Lack of quick results? Fatigue? Lack of social support?

Some tips that help motivate and maintain motivation:
– Be clear about what you want to get out of exercise
– Get clear about what your intrinsic motivators are as well as demotivaters
– Closely look at the pros and cons of adopting the exercise behavior
– Jump right in! Don’t wait until everything is perfect or you will never get anywhere. Start with baby steps so that you can establish habits
– Find friends. Keep it social. You’re much more likely to stick with behavior, especially in the beginning, if you can join others
– Schedule it! No one has the excuse of saying “there’s not enough time.” Make it a priority and fit it in with your schedule. You may have to get creative
– Get creative with exercise. Think outside the box. No equipment necessary for workouts
– identify ways to increase movement throughout the day. Park far away. Walk or bike to the grocery, etc
– Aim for 30-60 minutes on most days. Include some strength training exercises

Being active is so much more than exercise.  It’s a daily commitment to move more and sit less, and that’s just a simple way to think of it. There’s 24 hours in the day, 7-8 for sleeping, and the rest?  Get moving!

Change Your Eating Habits

What’s your eating style? Are you a stress eater, a convenience eater, or do you simply just have a difficult time with balanced portions? Most of us would answer “YES to the above.” There’s no guilt or shame in recognizing that you may be an emotional eater. We live under chronic stress in a food-abundant culture. As I always say, food is cheap, available and socially accepted as a way to enhance or soothe your emotions. The first step to changing any unwanted habits is to recognize the patterns.

Chronic Dieter

This person tends toward all or nothing thinking. They are either on the diet, or off the diet. They may use words like “bad” or “good” to describe their eating. “I’ll get back on track tomorrow… Or Monday.. Or after the holidays… Or once the kids go back to school… or when things settle down.” The reality is that we are all on the journey all the time. There is never a time when we are off track, and mistakes can be excellent teachers. Create a vision of yourself for next year, or 10 years from now. What do you see? If you desire health and quality of life, then make adjustments to your daily habits so that you will be healthy. If your goal is weight loss, then set your mind to it and make it happen. It’s not easy, but it’s not rocket science either.

Tips for the chronic dieter:

Get rid of the all or nothing, black and white thinking because it will weigh you down. Banish the word “diet” from your lexicon and instead focus on a tiny habits approach. Don’t major in the minors, but get serious about going after the low-lying fruit, e.g., worrying about gmo’s and gluten doesn’t matter much if you are overeating and not exercising.  Focus your energies instead on eating more vegetables, lean proteins and reducing intake of sugar in all of its forms (sugar, maple syrup, honey, coconut sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, etc).  Stay involved with Nutrition Solutions by coming to classes so you can continue to learn how to lose weight without being on a never-ending diet. The word for you is CONSISTENCY!

Emotional eater

This person uses food to cope with emotions. Whether happy or sad, stressed or angry, this person has learned that food can be a powerful way to alter their emotional state. Simply saying “no” to food without addressing the underlying emotion isn’t very helpful.  It’s not for a lack of willpower that these individuals stay stuck in unhealthy habits.  Eating habits start very early in life and so it’s likely that a person’s eating style has been ingrained for decades. Think about the way in which adults reward a toddler’s good behavior with a sweet treat. That child’s brain learns early on that savory foods are associated with feeling good.  The answer for emotional eating is to go after the root and address the underlying emotional source of overeating.

Tips for emotional eaters:

Identify alternative ways to cope with strong emotions. Instead of using food, try walking or exercise. Prayer, meditation, yoga and breathing exercises can be very helpful at reducing stress hormones. More than likely, a person will have to go deeper by restructuring their entire schedules so that they can live a more balanced life. You are in charge of creating the life you want and need. Come to the lifestyle group classes at Nutrition Solutions and draw strength from others by being supported.

Convenience Eater

This person’s eating habits are driven by a need for convenience. They have not created a space in their schedule for planning meals and snacks and so they rely on fast food and processed food products. They’ve outsourced the responsibility of deciding what to eat to corporations and as a result they eat high-calorie, heavily processed foods that ultimately makes them feel tired and sluggish.  Often times they skip meals or snacks and may eat only once or twice per day.

Tips for convenience eaters:

Plan ahead. Take pride in your body and all the ways it works for you.  Make the commitment to fuel it with high-quality foods. No one would think about putting economy-grade fuel into a Ferrari so don’t fuel your bodies with junk food.  Come to lifestyle group classes, particularly the ones pertaining to nutrition and meal prep. Attend as many grocery tours and cooking classes as you can so that you can develop skills necessary for meal planning.

The overeating health foodie

This person is knowledgeable about nutritious foods and they might describe themselves as eating very healthy. They tend to be well-read on recent trends in nutrition and they may even take pride in their meal planning and cooking skills, however, they simply just eat too much. This person also may not realize that even extremely “healthy” energy-dense foods must be eaten in moderation (olive oil, nut butters, and avocados for example).

Tips for the overeating foodie:

Practice using measuring tools and sticking to recommended serving sizes initially so that you can retrain your brain to understand what a balanced portion size is.  One tablespoon of Extra Virgin Olive Oil has 120 Calories. Two measly tablespoons of hummus contain about 50-60 calories.  Be aware of foods with health halo’s and nutritional buzzwords such as organic, gluten-free, natural, coconut oil, superfood, etc. Be on guard against marketing buzzwords and don’t assume it’s a free food just because you think it’s healthy.  In my opinion, raw and lightly steamed vegetables can be eaten without limitations, and in fact, it’s a good strategy to increase intake of fiber-rich foods due its effect on satiety (not to mention for the nutrition).

In general, changing eating habits is a process that occurs over time. It’s important to understand the internal and external factors that influence your eating decisions.  Healing your relationship with food requires planning, intention and mindfulness.  Put thought into what you will eat, how you will eat and with whom you will eat, but also make sure to employ balance.  Eating should be a pleasurable experience, but it should not feel out of control.  Check out thecenterformindfuleating.org and use some of their resources and tips to get you started.

 

Body Image and Self Esteem

Body image is the way you think or feel about your body—not necessarily how you look, but how you feel about the way you look or move in your body and it can be positive or negative.  Everyone has one.  It’s developed over time by many influences such as cultural beauty standards, life experiences, comments, media pressures and so on. If you struggle with maintaining a healthy body image, here are some practical ways to help:

  • Understand the difference between health and size. Health is not necessary about a number on a scale. Some people with a “normal” BMI are, in fact, unhealthy whereas others with an “overweight” BMI can be healthy.  Health and appearance are two difference things
  • Recognize true beauty, which is timeless. Health and confidence radiates beauty
  • Keep a list of your positive qualities that have nothing to do with your appearance. Perhaps you are kind, perhaps you are assertive, perhaps you have strong legs. Start a list and keep adding to that list
  • Get moving. Find creative ways to move your body in a way that makes you feel good
  • Always treat your body with respect and kindness. Always
  • Understand that your worth is not measured by the size of your waist or the number on the scale. If you are human, you are worthy and entitled to love
  • Honor your body for what it does
  • Talk through your issues with a trusted friend, a professional counselor or therapist
  • Commit to making positive health choices that will improve your self-confidence and feelings of empowerment
  • Understand that you are unique, with unique abilities, talents and a unique shape

Unfortunately, many individuals have struggled with a negative body image for so long that it’s hard to even know where to start. You may find it helpful to think back to a time in your youth when you were fearless and moved with ease, long before you had suffered any blows to your developing self-esteem.  Find ways to support this vision of the new, “old” you.  Regardless of how you feel, the real you is strong, healthy, beautiful and talented.  Connect with that and let it sink in deep.

At Nutrition Solutions, we believe in long-term support and comprehensive approaches.  If you’d like help with improving your body image and self-esteem, reach out and we’d love to connect you with a licensed professional counselor.

Nutrition Solutions