It’s okay. You don’t have to do everything perfectly to look and feel better. It turns out that when we focus on just a few consistent health habits — rather than 12 or 20 of them — many other health habits fall into place. Imagine this concept. You can actually be imperfect and be successful.
I’ve lost 75 pounds and kept it off. For years, I focused on so many health habits. I’ve been the most successful when I only focused on a few simultaneously.
My #1 habit:
For instance, I begin my day with a couple glasses of room-temperature lemon water. Being hydrated sets me up for success. Everyone, every morning, wakes up mildly to moderately dehydrated. This is why I drink 2 glasses of water before I eat or drink anything else including coffee. Hydration is essential to enhancing focus, attention, energy and mental clarity. Because I’m hydrated, I’m able to make better choices the rest of the morning and afternoon.
My #2 habit:
The second habit I typically focus on is planning to include veggies in at least two of my main meals for the day, and optimally a snack. By deciding what vegetables I eat, I automatically significantly decrease my chances of eating junk or loading up on carbs on those meals. I decrease my chance of “winging it” and eating a meal without any veggies at all.
My #3 habit:
The third habit I pay attention to is getting enough protein. Dietary protein makes us feel full! It decreases the chance that you’ll want to eat for at least the next few hours. Protein helps us from losing our lean mass (muscle). If you don’t eat enough protein on a regular basis, then you are very gradually losing precious muscle. Maintaining muscle is important for a variety of reasons, including that it keeps our resting metabolism higher than it would be otherwise.
Again, these are the three habits that I focus on mostly every day: (1) hydration, (2) how I’ll get my veggies, and (3) regularly including enough protein in my diet. When I focus on only three things, other essentials of staying lean fall into place. Because I only choose a few habits to consistently do well, my success rate is high! I am more conscientious and have great confidence in myself. Feeling this way makes me unconsciously choose to engage in other health habits, like going to bed earlier, being active outdoors, eating only when I am hungry and eating less sugary foods. It’s like the Law of Attraction.
How can YOU do this?
Choose 2 or 3 health habits that you have confidence you can practice consistently. Begin practicing them daily and within a few weeks, it should feel programmed. Almost immediately, though, you should feel a relief from not trying to be perfect.
Here’s the thing: we all have a solid grasp on what needs to happen to lose fat and stay lean. We need to be very consistent with eating a diet of vegetables, fruit, nuts/seeds, beans/lentils, protein, and fiber-ful carbs. We need to only eat when we are truly hungry and stop when we are about 70-80% full. We need to MOVE our bodies most days of the week, hopefully in a variety of ways. We need to strength train. We need to stay hydrated and sleep as well as possible. We need to significantly decrease our intake of added sugar and alcohol. We need to have confidence in ourselves and believe we deserve to feel well. We need to listen to our bodies, especially if we think we have a sensitive or intolerance to a certain food.
If you read that last paragraph again, it can seem overwhelming. However, remember that if you simply choose 2 or 3 habits to focus on consistently, most other health habits will fall into place.
Here are some habits you can choose from!
- Drink two glasses of water when you wake up, before you eat or drink anything else.
- On a scale of 1-10, where 1 is starving and 10 is terribly full, stay between a 3 and 7 or 8. It will keep you from getting too hungry or eating too much.
- Get “X” amount of sleep. Everyone needs a slightly different amount. Getting enough sleep helps you to gauge your true hunger level.
- Plan which meals you will include vegetables and which ones you will eat.
- Eat foods that you don’t have a food intolerance or sensitivity to. If your body doesn’t like it, don’t eat it.
- Each morning, sketch out your food choices for the day.
- Go for a 30 minute walk every morning. (or 15, or 25, or 60… simply going for a walk can set the tone for the day.)
- Plan your protein choices for the day. Divide them up evenly throughout your day if you can
- Take a water break at X:XX time. Say, at 3:33 every day, drink 1-2 glasses of water.
- Eat a super nutritious meal of whole, fresh foods after your workout. Avoid alcohol, added sugar or other non-nutrient food especially at this time. The body is sensitive to the post-workout meal, and you should be providing your body with the best at this time.