It’s about more than the food!

It’s the beginning of a new year and a time to Reevaluate Reset and Reboot!

Otherwise known as goal setting season! …and the perfect time to think your health!

Have you been inspired to make some new healthy habits? Maybe you’ve been inspired by the gorgeous food pics on Instagram or feel everything would be better if you joined a gym or a yoga studio. You get enthused and shop at Whole Foods and fill your fridge with fresh greens and restock your pantry with quinoa and hemp seeds.

You committed to these new habits but before you know it, life gets in the way and slowly – one treat at a time – you fall back into old habits. Fear not, it’s part of the process.

Old habits occasionally rear their chocolate-doughnut-loving heads, but this doesn’t mean that you have failed. Building healthy habits requires a slow and steady mentality…and sometimes it’s a two steps forward and one step back kind of process.
Instead of giving up or berating yourself here are 5 proven ways to get on track, re-engage and stay enthused so you can stick to the health goals you have set for yourself.

#1 “I Don’t” instead of “I Can’t”

Reframing your internal dialogue can make all the difference. Research tells us that repeating “I don’t” statements vs. “I can’t” statements can retrain your neural pathways to help you make better decisions over time.

Instead of saying, “I can’t have wine tonight,” tell yourself, “I don’t have wine on school nights”.

A few “I don’t” statements that I use regularly:

  • I don’t put any type of sweetener in my coffee.
  • I don’t snack before bed. (Ok, I admit to following this 90% of the time, the other 10% I need to confess about the popcorn while watching an evening movie.)
  • I don’t eat highly processed and packaged foods.

Believe me, I still enjoy myself and love my food! When you crowd out unhealthy items with healthier options, you’ll find that you like the healthier options even more! That leads me to #2

#2 Deprivation never works!

Rather than setting yourself up for failure with unrealistic rules that leave yourself feeling deprived, add the new healthy habits into your lifestyle and let them crowd out the not so healthy stuff. For example, instead of thinking, “I can’t have any pizza,” shift to “I always have a big delicious green salad before pizza.” Let a big bowl of fresh, real food crowd out a couple of those slices of the pizza.

#3 Motivation isn’t all it’s cracked up to be!

Setting an intention is where it’s at! Motivation is short lived and doesn’t lead to consistent action. If you want to achieve your goals, then you need a plan for exactly when and how you’re going to execute on them.

“Deciding in advance when and where you will take specific actions to reach your goal can double or triple your chances for success.”
Heidi Grant Halvorson, Columbia University professor

#4 Write It Down!

Putting pen to paper solidifies your commitments by engaging a group of cells in your temporal lobe known as the reticular activating system. Your brain intensifies the amount of focus on the information that you are writing down. #gottalovethescience

Get out a piece of paper and write down your health commitments. It’s better to use real pen and paper instead of typing if possible, as the kinesthetic movement of your thoughts adds another layer of learning to your brain.

Now, tape it to your bathroom mirror, refrigerator, or vision board. Make it your phone or computer screen saver, or keep it next to your bed on a notecard. Seeing your commitments regularly creates micro-visioning sessions to aid your efforts.
Which leads me to #5…

#5 Vision Boards Work

Vision boards aren’t woo-woo, airy-fairy exercises. Visualization is scientifically proven to work.

Olympic athletes have been using it for decades to improve performance. Back to the science… it has been proven over and over again that the brain patterns activated while performing an action or task are similarly activated when you imagine or visualize the same action.
A vision board is one of the easiest ways to consistently remind yourself of what you want to create. Take a moment to visualize what you want to achieve. Having a clear vision of what you want will get you through unclear moments.
Create a vision board filled with inspiring photos, images and words that will help you visualize the healthy lifestyle that you desire.

Healthy habits are just like muscles; they will get stronger and stronger the more you work them. So, repeat after me “consistency trumps perfection every time”. If you fall off the wagon, take a deep breath and hop back on without making yourself feel guilty.

Be proud of yourself for the progress you’ve made thus far. You’re human, not a robot. Remember that your goal is progress, not perfection!