Are you sick of being told to build “sustainable habits”?
It is my observation that there are two camps of people in the nutrition and wellness space: There is one group that pushes detoxes, restriction, and food elimination, all in the name of "shedding those pounds" and “feeling better than ever”. Then there is the second group that aggressively tries to shield the masses from the first group and shouts “SUSTAINABILITY!!” from the rooftops.
What's the problem with sustainable lifestyle change? It’s not sexy. It’s slow. It takes too long.
After all, you have a vacation in two months. Or maybe a wedding.
I get it. But what’s the alternative to sustainability?
The alternative is jumping in to these quick-fixes, going "all in", pedal to the metal. You are confident that this time, it will be "different". And so, you start working out 5 times a week, cut out those nasty carbs, and start saying no to date nights. You are able to keep it up for a solid…2 weeks? Maybe? You might even lose a few pounds in those 2 weeks. Great. But what happens after?
Bouncing back and forth from 0% to 100% is not useful.
You probably already know this on some level. The short-term effects of going balls to the wall are feelings of deprivation, frustration, and mental exhaustion. The long-term effects are weight-cycling, metabolic damage, a poor relationship with food, poor body image, and poor self-esteem.
Let’s try a better approach; let’s try behaviour tweaking.
Step #1. Make one small tweak
This could mean including at least one vegetable in most of your lunches. It could mean doing 10 minutes of stretching when you wake up. It could mean scheduling in a trip to the grocery to your weekly schedule.
It does NOT mean finding the latest diet trend on TikTok and cutting out a bunch of food groups and telling yourself you're going to start working out every single day.
Step #2. Do that tweak consistently
This could mean successfully adding that vegetable to your lunches 5 out of the 7 days this week. This could mean that you stretched for 5-8 minutes every morning. It could mean that you planned and went to the grocery store 3 out of the 4 weeks this month; you missed one scheduled trip but you rescheduled and went the next day.
It does NOT necessarily mean that you did the tweak absolutely perfectly every single day. It does not mean that if you didn't do it one day, that you have failed and that you "might as well quit".
Step #3. Once that tweak has become somewhat automatic, add another tweak
As the weeks go by with mindfully implementing that tweak, check in with yourself regularly. In the beginning, you probably have to very consciously and intentionally force yourself to do it. But as time progresses, you might notice that it becomes a little more automatic. You don't need that reminder on your phone. You don't need your spouse to nag you about it. You're just doing it.
AMAZING. Now, you're ready to consider adding another behavioural tweak.
The benefit of this approach is that at no point will you feel deprived. But after a few months or years, you will be practicing a whole new healthy and balanced lifestyle that is...I'm sorry to say it...SUSTAINABLE.
Stay nourished my friends,