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We’re a few weeks into the new year, and you’ve likely been bombarded with encouragement to go on a diet, start a new exercise routine, or any number of self-improvement ideas. If you are feeling lost, confused, or overwhelmed, know that you are certainly not alone.
Maybe you’ve tried a new diet every January but cannot seem to stick with it. In the beginning, it is normal to feel excitement for the new life you are promised when you lose weight. One where the diet claims you’ll easily drop pounds, feel more confident, have improved health, and more. While this might be true in the short term, long term health effects are not a common side effect of weight loss.
I highly suggest changing your weight loss goals into resolutions to be healthier. How does one focus on health instead of pounds? It’s simple! Shift your focus from how you look to how you feel.
However, just because it is simple doesn’t mean it is easy. It’s almost impossible to completely rid your life of the obsession our culture has with weight. But your weight does not determine your health. Your health is determined instead by your energy, mood, stress, sleep, blood work, physical activity, and more.
What is it that you can do this year to focus on your health instead of how you look? Here are five ideas to help you stay focused on health instead of falling back into the diet trap.
Try to make choices that respect your body today. No matter what size you are, you still need food to function. Your body needs a consistent intake of a variety of foods to nourish it. Your body needs regular movement throughout the day. Your body needs adequate rest.
What choices can you make that will show your body the respect it deserves?
Skip the list of foods to eat and foods to avoid. Instead, draw your attention to how food makes your body feel. Does it make you feel energetic, revitalized, and satisfied, or does it make you feel bloated or lethargic?
If something doesn’t make your body feel its best, yet it is a food you love, maybe you want to explore eating it less often.
Aim to eat more foods that make your body feel good; however, don’t limit yourself to eating only those. There is room in your life for foods that aren’t the most nutritious but make your spirit (and tastebuds) happy.
Replace the “good” food, “bad” food mentality with the idea that all foods are acceptable. No foods are off limits. No one food or meal is going to cause you to get cancer or diabetes. Try to change your language around food, so you aren’t subconsciously attaching morality to foods. What matters are the choices you make over time, and when you are meeting your body’s needs and eating a variety of foods, you will be able to nourish your body without using arbitrary food labels.
Exercise need not be a chore. In fact, exercise should be a way to celebrate what your body can do no matter what your limitations are. Instead of using exercise as punishment for eating certain foods or as an excuse to eat more, moving your body can be a joyful experience. Try detaching exercise from being another item on your to-do list. Find workouts that you enjoy doing, and remember they don’t have to be elaborate or intense. Walking around the block or holding a plank in your living room will add up to positive health benefits.
Your body was not designed to always go. Rest is an essential component to good health. Getting enough sleep every night is imperative, as is giving your body a break from intense exercise. Not only does your body need rest, your mind also needs rest. Sleep is incredibly important, but so are adequate breaks throughout the day as well as in the evening so you are able to decompress before bed. Meditation, prayer, journaling, reading, breathing exercises, yoga, or gentle movement are all great for helping your brain relax.
Be sure you are allowing your body and brain to rest each and every day.
As you focus on having your healthiest year yet, consider incorporating a2 Milk into your diet to give you the fuel you need to get through the day. It may be easier on digestion than other milk and may help some relieve discomfort. Find a carton at your local grocery store today!
Meme is a registered dietitian nutritionist who adores creating recipes that are full of plants and strives to show how satisfying living well can be! She focuses on preparing simple meals that make you feel good from the inside out. As a certified intuitive eating counselor and mindful eating trained dietitian, Meme helps people connect to their bodies to enjoy food instead of stress about rules or calories. You can find her on Instagram and her blog Living Well Kitchen where you’ll find approachable and enjoyable tips & recipes that prove living a healthy lifestyle can be budget-friendly, delicious and fun!