The Surefire Way to Get Healthy Habits to Stick
July 8th, 2013 by Katie Morton
Photo by: kelsey_lovefusionphoto / Creative Commons
I can’t even begin to tell you how many times in my life I decided I was going to go on a diet and start working out, only to fall flat on my face. Yo-yo dieting had become a part of my life: I was either dieting, or gaining weight. I kept waiting for it to happen, but I was rarely in a place of simply maintaining a healthy weight.
To lose weight, I would enter a phase of deprivation where I would almost entirely eliminate carbs, I’d count grams of protein, and I’d eat foods I didn’t really like, just because they had a particular nutrition profile. But eventually, I’d fail and gain all the weight back.
We’ve been conditioned to think that healthy living isn’t that fun. Many of us have been taught that eating foods that are bad for us is one of the ultimate pleasures in life. We’re either being “good” or we’re being “bad.” So when we’re being “good” we reel it in and we put a stop to the pleasure. And when we fall apart and we’re “bad,” we’re really, really bad.
My yo-yo dieting finally came to a halt when I learned this particular secret. (There are a bunch of secrets, but this particular one was the final hurdle for me.) You don’t even need to brace yourself – it’s going to sound so obvious:
You need to get pleasure out of your healthy habits in order for them to stick.
Think back on times of your life that you were fit and healthy and loving it – not thin because you were starving yourself or doing workouts that you hated. Can you think of any times that you enjoyed getting healthy? If so, can you model those behaviors again?
If not, if you’ve always thought of getting healthy as a campaign of torture, then here’s the advice in a very tiny nutshell (Austin Powers, anyone?):
Eat food that gives you pleasure (real food, not packaged junk.) Choose to move your body in ways that give you pleasure. And here’s the key: pay attention to the pleasure. Be grateful for it. Be mindful of it.
Let me reiterate: make it food you enjoy…if you hate rice cakes or yogurt, then why waste calories on foods you don’t even like to eat? If you happen to really love cheese and you feel fine when you eat it, then for God’s sake, EAT CHEESE. However, if it makes you feel bad physically, then DON’T eat cheese. Easy peasy. You like avocado? Eat avocado. You like nuts? I think you get the point.
When you’re mindful of the pleasure – I mean really and truly paying attention to your food while you eat it, absolutely focusing on the taste in your mouth – you would honestly get bored before you’d overeat. Chew your food. Taste your food. Notice when you’re not hungry anymore.
Pleasure is the key to making healthy habits stick. Like this post? Sign up below for free updates (and a free ebook!)