Have you found it harder to stick with healthy habits with everything that’s been going on in the world recently?
Perhaps working from home has kept you more sedentary than normal, the fridge is just a few steps away anytime you need a procrastination snack, and alcohol feels a bit more tempting than usual.
If any of this sounds familiar, you’re not alone. I’ve heard this from a lot of clients recently.
If you’ve been trying to get back on track, I have a quick story to share and I’m curious if you can relate:
“I know what I should do, but I’m just not doing it.”
A client recently said this to me with guilt in her voice during our first session.
This smart, talented, driven woman explained to me how she “failed” at keto, at veganism, at going paleo, and with fasting. She told me how her body must be broken. And how she has no willpower.
She starts the day fasting, with the best of intentions. She eats a salad for lunch, and by mid afternoon, she’s on her 3rd espresso, dragging through the last meeting of the day. She eats her “clean” dinner only to end the night at the bottom of a pint of ice cream, in a puddle of shame and frustration. How did this happen again?
She doesn’t understand why she can’t “stick to her diet.”
This breaks my heart because not only is she not seeing the results from the effort she’s putting in, but she’s feeling like a failure in the process. On top of all the other stress she’s dealing with, she’s feeling like her health is a struggle as well.
She wants more energy, better mental health, and to lose a bit of weight, but it feels like nothing is working.
Here’s the truth I tell her:
Your body is NOT broken. You DO NOT have a willpower problem.
Diets, food rules, and restriction donotworklong term.
When you give yourself too many rules, the natural inclination is to resist and rebel. Only once you stop the steady stream of shoulds running through your mind, does space open up to hear what your body actually needs and wants.
If a certain style of eating is not satiating you, keeping you energized, nourishing your skin, hair, and hormones, and keeping your mind sharp, you haven’t failed at the diet. The diet has failed you. Just because something works for your boyfriend or aunt Becky doesn’t mean it’s right for you.
We’re all biochemically unique. But, in a world where we’re bombarded with so many “shoulds” around what we’re supposed to be eating, we forget that our own bodies actually know best. Imagine that
So, first and foremost, to make sticking with healthy habits easier, find out what works for your unique body. This goes for food, but also for exercise, supplements, stress management, etc.
Additionally, here are 3 tips that you can implement today to regulate appetite and keep energy levels steady, especially in times of higher stress.
*Eat 20-30 grams of protein within an hour of waking.
As this study indicates, eating a higher protein breakfast can decrease levels of ghrelin, a hunger-stimulating hormone. It also slows stomach emptying, which means you stay satiated longer and have more consistent energy. This keeps you from reaching for that donut an hour after breakfast.
By the way, if you intermittent fast and it’s working for you, keep on keepin’ on. Fasting works for some bodies and not others, particularly female bodies. It can raise cortisol which is counterproductive to your goals and lead to binges later in the day. So, if you’ve tried fasting and you’re not seeing results, try a different approach.
*Aim for 25-30 grams of fiber per day.
Fiber keeps you full longer, stabilizes blood sugar, and supports a healthy microbiome. This can support a reduction in cortisol output. A healthy and diverse microbiome also means fewer sugar cravings. Most Americans get about 15 grams per day, by the way, so try tracking for a day or two to see how much you normally get. Go for whole food sources, like veggies, fruits, legumes, nuts and seeds.
Thirst often masquerades as hunger. Whether on trail or off, start your day with at least a liter of water. Add sea salt and lemon, if it’s available, for a boost in minerals and energy. Drinking water before eating breakfast or a sugary snack ensures that you’re not confusing hunger for thirst. Staying hydrated also helps you avoid unnecessary blood sugar swings, keeping you from craving more sugar. Shoot for half your weight (in pounds) in ounces of water.
Getting your healthy food habits dialed in lays the foundation to build the other health habits on top of that. You have more energy and motivation for your workouts. When you’re feeling better from better food choices, you’re less tempted by the alcohol or the cookies.
In terms of improved energy and less cravings, these tips can work for you whether you’re at home or out on a wilderness adventure.
You deserve a full, adventurous life (whatever that means to you!) and it starts with having a healthy mind and body.
And it can be more simple than you’ve been led to believe. Which is why I do the work that I do: to take my own years of struggle and use it to support you in deepening your understanding of how food works in YOUR body so that you create the health you need to do whatever matters to you.