Dear Leah Renee,
Do I need to be all-or-nothing with diets or can I make small changes? I haven’t seen a lot of progress when I go all-or-nothing because I always end up right back where I started. What gives? ~Nel, GA
It’s safe to say when someone is describing me, “very healthy” would likely going to be a part of their explanation. People ask me all the time how I’m so healthy, why I’m so healthy, and let me tell you–it’s not overnight. It takes dedication, interest, work, self control, and confidence. Habits, tastes, preferences, friends, and commitment are progressive. How often do we hear “I’ll start my diet when….”. Is there ever really a perfect time? What if your healthy practices are just you? Then there’s never a good or bad time.
I wanted to write about this because I was just reflecting on how I used to eat. 10 years ago, even morning on my way to work, I had a chocolate peanut butter Zone Perfect Bar and washed it down with a non-fat sugar-free vanilla latte from the coffee shop. Then I’d get into the office where one of the girls got McDonald’s on her way to work, and would offer me the beautiful, greasy hash-brown. I usually accepted. At this stage, I’ve already consumed over 500 calories, 36 grams of sugar, and a heap of GMO’s, hydrogenated oils, hydrolyzed protein, and aspartame. And I typically ate another snack before lunch because, nutritionally, I was still hungry. I’ll spare you the rest of the day–just know it followed suit. I knew this wasn’t the best thing for me, but did not quite understand how bad any of them were. I slowly made slight modifications, and felt and noticed small changes.
We have all heard someone say at some point, maybe even yourself, that diets don’t work. There’s many reasons why, but one big reason is because we’re attempting to completely alter our eating habits overnight. Eating is fun, it’s social, it’s comforting, and uplifting. Oh, and it’s really really good. But do you remember liking so many things as a kid that you couldn’t even imagine eating now? Your palate has changed. It did so gradually over a long period of time. When we attempt to change our diet, and try introducing too many new things at once that we don’t enjoy, we are not going to want to keep that up for long. Our palate is simply not used to them. It’s not any of those things that food is supposed to be (fun, social, comforting, or uplifting). Most of us like to be happy. But wait, I’d be happy if I was thinner, but I’m not happy eating those foods that may get me there. Sigh.
I promise, everyone likes foods that are healthy for them and can fill up on. When you become used to having more of the foods you like and won’t add to your waistline, you’ll also have less room to fill it up with those foods and habits that will have a negative impact. Routine is one of the biggest hurdles, because most of us are on automatic pilot. We’re busy, consumed, and the rest sometimes is simply on default.
If you have tried endless diets, or simply want to make a change, just know that any progress is some progress. Adding one glass of filtered water a day, having one less bite of a meal you know is more than enough, skipping dessert one night, trying out a new vegetable recipe, or making a smoothie instead of having some ice cream. It all makes an impact. The most motivating factors are when you yourself and feel and see a difference–no matter how small it is. It’s a reminder that you’re doing something right, it’s working, and then you can add another new addition to your developing health regimen. It took me a very long time, but it was worth it. Why I choose healthy? Here: