Once you’ve been choosing better food (Step #1) on a regular basis, choosing better behaviors comes more naturally. You’ll find you want to choose actions that support health and wellness because the food you’re eating is already doing so. You’re seeing the difference in how your body feels, performs, and looks. You’re feeling the difference in your energy, mood, and outlook. So why stop there?
Choosing better behaviors, like choosing better food, doesn’t have to be radical or painful. Once again, consistent, small actions and steps lead to permanent change. You weren’t born with the habit of brushing your teeth twice a day were you? But now if you didn’t brush your teeth in the morning, you just wouldn’t feel right…right?
After choosing better food and behaviors become part of your lifestyle, you’ll feel out of sync when you don’t. Your body and mind will crave nutritious food and supportive behaviors because they’ve enjoyed the benefits–they feel the difference–and prefer health and wellness. You won’t just achieve your health and wellness resolutions, you’ll go beyond by living them.
Move your body. Every day.
While lengthy and/or intense exercise is necessary to strengthen your heart and build up your cardio endurance, you don’t have to go to the gym to feel the benefits of moving your body.
Chase your kids or pets around the yard, dance through the house to your favorite music while you clean, do a few easy yoga moves you remember from class, go outside and stretch your arms up to the sky a few times. Do something that feels good.
When you are officially working out and not particularly enjoying it, concentrate on the benefits that moving your body gives you…circulation of oxygen and blood, firming of muscles, flow of happy endorphins, reduction in stress, and better sleep at night.
A body that moves every day is more flexible, powerful, and energized. You’ll be surprised how those qualities will carry over to your mind. Our bodies and minds are connected, so treating your physical self well will also benefit your thinking self.
Feed your body every 3 hours.
Yes, you heard me right. Every 3 hours. Eating small meals more often revs up your metabolism, maintains your blood sugar level, and tames hunger so that you’re more likely to make better food and behavior choices later. It’s a heck of a lot easier to maintain balance and moderation when you’re thinking clearly and not starving.
Making this change in my eating behavior made a huge difference in my health and wellness. At first I was dubious when my personal trainer boyfriend (now my husband) suggested it to me. I was worried I’d gain weight eating so often. Not only did I not gain weight, I actually lost weight…without ever being hungry and eating more food in a day than I ever had on a “diet.” Any time I tested his theory by going back to my old dieting ways, I was miserable because I was depriving myself and my weight would creep up. It only took a few tests to convince myself his way was better!
Most of these small meals are going to be snacks. Just a little something to keep you going, like a piece of fruit, handful of almonds, or a protein shake. I always have a bar in my purse or bag. My first choice is one with simple ingredients, like LARABAR. They’re made of raw fruit, nuts, and spices that combine into delightful flavors like Ginger Snap, Carrot Cake, and Coconut Cream Pie. No soy, no weirdness (also no gluten or dairy). When I start to feel hungry and I’m on the go, I take a bite of my bar and keep going. Eating smart snacks keeps you fueled up and on the right track.
Feed your soul.
Primary nourishment is just as important as food nourishment. Primary nourishment fulfills your mind and soul. (Click here for a post I wrote on this subject.) Taking a relaxing bath, talking to a good friend, receiving a warm hug, communing with nature, fulfilling your creative side…these are all ways to feed yourself, to completely nourish yourself. You are not just your body. When you fulfill your need for primary nourishment, you’re less likely to continue or adopt “bad” habits or behaviors.
If you feel guilty about taking time to relax, recharge, or re-inspire because of your responsibilities, think of it this way: You can’t give 100% to others if you’re not at 100%. If you take care of your needs, you’ll be a better friend, spouse, parent, employee…you’ll basically be a better person all around!
Seek balance and moderation in everything you do.
This was one of the hardest concepts for me. I had a tendency to be O.C.D.–Obsessive, Competitive, and Down-on-myself. I still have those tendencies, as they’re part of my personality, but it’s rarely a problem when I focus on maintaining balance and moderation.
Our bodies and minds are like nature; too much of anything (and not enough of something) throws off the delicate system of balance, harmony, and synergy. Too much food, too much activity, and too much stress lead to imbalance and has consequences we can feel. Too little food, too little activity, and too little stress (in this case, stimulation) also leads to imbalance and has consequences we can feel. So you see, it’s not just about what you eat (choosing better food) and do (choosing better behaviors). It’s how much that matters too.