The Los Angeles wellness obsession has gone bonkers.
This isn’t new information— I live in a city where people pay thousands of dollars to have their fat frozen and spend a week’s take-home wage on juice cleansing — but it’s gotten out of control.
The straw that has broken this camel’s back came last night when I popped into the supermarket. As I quickly dashed about filling my basket with veg, milk and eggs, my inquisitive-journalist ears picked up the sounds of a conversation that would only take place in a city like L.A.
Following the treble tones, I turned into the aisle to find two women having an anxious and in-depth conversation about which brand of water they should buy.
I kid you not.
It went like this:
“This one is reverse osmosis”, says the brunette wearing a red neckerchief and holding a $6.99 bottle of H20.
“But this one has added electrolytes,” counters the blonde, pointing her manicured fingers at a label that has flown halfway across the world to sit on this mid-Wilshire shelf.
“Perhaps we should buy the glass bottles?” suggests the first. “To avoid BPAs.”
“Sure, that works…just make sure you read the nutrition label,” replies the second, a little more quietly as she catches me watching, transfixed.
I tear my eyes away, stash a few (home-brand) club sodas into my basket and head to the self service checkout, trying not to giggle at the scene I just observed.
Read the nutrition label on your water? Now that’s a new one!
Look, I’m not scoffing at these women’s determination to hydrate — drinking clean water is very, very important. And if you have the luxury of being able to afford the brand that is alkalized, charcoal-filtered or lovingly bottled at a cold mountain spring, and drinking that type of water floats your boat, then power to you.
But the reality is that it’s totally unnecessary to take a simple health habit — drink more water — and make it something complicated, and frankly a little bourgeoisie. Honestly, do YOU have the time or mental bandwidth to deliberate the pros and cons of various water brands? I sure as heck don’t!
As your wellness coach I suggest that you spend more time drinking water and less time worrying about the ideal way to do it. (Insider tip: the tap turns to the left.)
This goes for any new healthy habit…the easiest way to make progress is by simply starting.
Want to get fit? Lace up your sneakers and walk around your neighborhood.
Want to eat healthier? Load up your basket with fruit, veg and whole grains, and stop buying brightly colored boxes plastered with words like “healthy!” and “fiber!”. (These words are often there to disguise the whopping amount of sugar, sodium or trans-fats that the product contains.)
I know that I’ve talked about this before, but I will continue to beat the drum until we all get the message that being healthy is actually very simple.
The healthiest people that I know are not the ones who agonize over every last detail to make the perfect choice. They don’t obsess over what they eat, how they move, or what they weigh. They don’t trap themselves into rigid lifestyle habits or overload their days with unrealistic goals and expectations. And they certainly don’t spend Sunday evening in the supermarket, analyzing the merits of drinking water.
So your goal for this week is to commit to becoming one of the healthy ones.
You can do that in three steps:
Pinpoint an area of your life that is being held back by perfectionism, analysis-paralysis or straight up laziness.
Set an intention to change one single habit related to that area.
Take swift action, today, tomorrow, the next day, and so on; improve as you go, and know that each day you choose to do something different is the day that your life will change.
We all need a purpose — something that fulfills us from the inside out, motivates us to get out of bed in the morning, lets us stand on our own two feet throughout the day and fall asleep wrapped in the warm hug of contentment.
But here’s the kicker: your purpose, or at least part of it, must resonate only for you. Your PERSONAL purpose is different from your role as a mother, wife or daughter, and it’s different from your profession. Because, while worthy, if the entirety of your fulfillment is intricately linked to the needs of another, you’re leaving yourself open to the risk of one day waking up, purposeless.
I’ve known many women who have lost their sense of purpose once their children had grown or they left their careers. I’ve experienced it too, and it’s an aimless (and suffocating) feeling that, in the words of Bart Simpson, “both sucks and blows”.
We women, nurturers at heart,tend to be chameleons — in our desire to make other people happy, we arrange our days (perhaps our lives) to support THEIR likes, needs and hobbies, often at the expense of our own.
But to be our best selves, and live our best lives, we also need to achieve something that is just for us. This personal purpose is what keeps our lives meaningful on the individual level, but also gives us more to contribute to the world at large.
So it begs to ask, what does your personal purpose look like?
Read on for my simple four-step framework that will help you reconnect with your purpose this week.
Step One: choose your purposeful adjective
Before setting a specific goal or making a to-do list, I want you to first describe how you will feel at the end of a purposeful day. This will help you separate the tasks that are meaningful to you — those that will move the needle forward on your purpose-driven life — from the one’s that you think you SHOULD do (such as folding the laundry or wiping the top of the refrigerator).
Here are some words to get you started: healthy, content, feminine, thoughtful, grateful, courageous, organized, kind, relaxed, energized, satisfied…
Step Two: pick a goal of purpose
What is one thing that you would like to learn, do or achieve, that would give you the feeling that you described in Step One? What goal would make you excited to jump out of bed in the morning (or at least feel keen to give it a go once the coffee has kicked in)?!
This might be something completely new to your lifestyle, such as planning a trip, learning a new skill or volunteering; or it might be following through on tasks and hobbies that you had once started but never got around to finishing, such as completing a photo album or scrapbook, donating clothes to charity, or landscaping the garden.
Choose just ONE personal purpose goal for the week, and make sure that it’s something that will add meaning, satisfaction and joy to your life.
Step Three: decide your daily tasks
Now that you’ve narrowed down a weekly goal, you’ll choose one or two daily tasks that will help you achieve that goal, and give you the essential satisfaction of success.
Research has shown that consistent progress — achieving small bits every day — is more satisfying than completing everything in one big surge of effort. The daily progress makes us feel more fulfilled and motivated to follow through on our promises, and ultimately sows the seeds for a purposeful life.
After all, a purposeful life is nothing other than thousands purposeful days, quietly and consistently stacked one on top of the other.
Let me give you an example of the three-step process thus far:
I want to feel organized and artistic.
My weekly goal is to complete the family scrapbook from our trip to Italy. This is something that I’ve wanted to complete for months; it will spark my creativity and remind me of the joy that we had on that trip (that makes me feel grateful for the life that I live, and the memories that I’ve created).
Monday: print trip photos
Tuesday: decide on color theme and layout of scrapbook
Wednesday: buy materials and set up my working space
Thursday: set aside two hours to complete scrapbook
Friday: make any final adjustments and pack away crafts
Saturday: share it with the family and reminisce about the trip (Step Four)
Step Four: reflect and validate
Reflecting on a job well done is what separates a successful day with a busy day.
Many of us have a tendency to focus on what we need to do, or on what we didn’t get to, which makes contentment hard to come by; it’s very hard to feel satisfied and fulfilled when you always feel weighed down with expectation of what comes next.
Instead, start acknowledging what you HAVE achieved by giving credit to your successes. In doing this you are creating a record of everything that you have accomplished, and staying connected to the meaningful life that you are creating, bit-by-bit, every single day.
I’ll leave you with the stirring words of Eleanor Roosevelt: The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.
So please, go out today and live your purpose. And then as always, let me know how it goes.
Or are you more closely acquainted with SNOOZE than the first rays of sunshine?
Personally I’ve never been one to stick my head under the pillow. I compare waking up to ripping off a Bandaid — if you’ve got to get it done, you might as well just do it.
(But that might just be the country girl in me speaking.)
While my morning enthusiasm is partly sparked by the 10 minute routine I do after I get up (check it out here), there are 5 other habits that I haven’t shared with you, which really put a spring in my sleepy-eyed step…
In fact, it’s the five activities that I complete BEFORE I go to bed that make the biggest difference.
In the video below I’m going to walk you through the five things that you can do tonight to enjoy tomorrow even more, all of which are simple, practical and adaptable for your lifestyle.
Once you’ve had a chance to watch I’d love to hear from you. So stick around and join in the discussion at the bottom of the page.
To Recap, Here’s What We Covered
Evening Ritual #1: Protect Your Neck From Computer Posture
Fixing “chicken neck” isn’t as easy as seeing a Hollywood plastic surgeon, so you’d better start working on yours now!
Computer posture that causes you to stick your chin forward can put up to 60 pounds of extra pressure on your neck and spine, which over time can lead to disc compression, migraines, and neck and shoulder pain
In the video below I’m demonstrating exactly what those neck flexor exercises look like — try them tonight
Evening Ritual #2:Turn Off All Screens 30 Minutes Before Bed
There are (at least) three good reasons to shut down your technology well before hitting the hay:
The blue light disrupts melatonin production, making it harder to fall asleep
Media is stimulating and you need to give your brain a break
Your favorite show is ruining any chance of developing an “early bed time” routine
Evening Ritual #3: Tidy Your Kitchen
Now you’ve shut down the tech a little earlier you can take some time to potter in the kitchen
Sit out things for a healthy breakfast (or your morning cup of Joe)
Put away anything that needs to be cleared…
It’s such a treat to wake up and see this neat space!
Evening Ritual #4: Journal For Gratitude & Reflection
“Busy brain syndrome” occurs when you’re body is tired but you’re mind is on fire with to-do’s, concerns and the random thoughts that only occur after lights out
Not surprisingly, this is not conducive for getting a good nights sleep
My remedy is to do a quick evening journal practice that focuses on gratitude and reflection (learn about it here)
Evening Ritual #5: Set Out Tomorrow’s Clothes
Setting out an outfit before you go to bed saves the hassle of finding clothes in the morning…
This leaves you extra AM time for doing nice things…
I recommend making a healthy breakfast, taking a walk or catching up with a good book
Now I’d love to hear from you!
Do you have any evening rituals that make you excited to wake up the next day?
Why is it that certain body parts receive so much more attention than others?
Take bottoms for example, they’re a pretty popular topic to talk about; entire workouts have been developed to increase the perkiness of the average bum; millions of marketing dollars have been spent (and made) in promoting a toned toosh; heck, Kim Kardashian even built an empire of the back of her backside.
Breasts also garner much discussion (and criticism, and ogling), but are they really more special than, say, an ankle? Sure, breasts have certain functions, but ankles are the reason that you can move, dance, and prance around in your favorite slippers. Why aren’t more people praising a great pair of ankles?
Another essential — yet slighted — part of your anatomy is your neck. Not only does your neck support the weight of your head, it also protects the blood vessels and nerves that keep you alive and mentally functioning. As for quality of life, your neck houses the thyroid gland (regulates hormones and metabolism), the larynx (responsible for speech), and helps with reverse parking (by swiveling your head)…among other things.
So I’d like to throw out a wild card suggestion and ask if, this week, we could all take some time away from worrying about our thighs, to appreciate the importance, and evaluate the health, of our necks.
I bring this up as I’ve recently noticed a change in how my neck looks and feels, presumably from more time spent on a computer. A quick visit to the chiropractor confirmed my suspicion — I was getting tech-neck.
Apparently I’m not alone.
The doc had recently seen a string of young patients (18 – early 20s) whose necks resembled those of a 50 year-old who had spent 30 years in an office job. Too much time craning towards a screen meant that these youngster’s necks had lost their natural curve, reduced their range of motion when turning the head from side-to-side, and humps were forming at their upper backs. That’s a bummer of a diagnosis for thinking they only had a tension headache.
Fortunately, awareness is the first step of change. And now that you’re aware of your neck’s needs you can start to meet them. To help you do that, today’s Healthy Living Made Easy post covers exercises for improving neck posture and reducing neck pain. These movements will reduce your likelihood of experiencing tension headaches, reverse rounded shoulder syndrome, and help you maintain that sexy cervical curve that we’ve all come to know and love.
Press play on today’s video: Simple Exercises For Improving Neck Posture
To Recap What We Talked About
Do these exercises in the evening, every evening, to improve your neck’s posture.
Less is more when it comes to stretching and strengthening the neck; stick with the repetitions and time that I’ve demonstrated in the video.
Misalignment of the neck can lead to tension headaches, muscle knots, disc compression, and impact respiratory function.
Change takes time. In the words of Pantene, it won’t happen overnight, but it will happen.
Now I’d love to hear from you
This is a two-parter:
Are you committed to improving your neck posture with these simple exercises?
I recently had afternoon tea with a couple of close friends in Sydney. It had been about 8 months since we’d last seen each other, during which time I knew they had made some dietary tweaks. Being the curious health coach that I am, I wanted to ask them how it all went.
They told me that by making a few simple lifestyle updates — and bringing just a little more awareness to what was going on their plate — they’ve landed on a way of eating that makes them look and feel great.
I was thrilled! I love hearing that simple strategies bring great results, as that’s my philosophy through and through.
Yet as we chatted more about food, our conversation revealed a challenge that my friends had been facing. It was something that I’m also intimately familiar with and it rings true for many friends and clients who have chosen to shake things up in the healthy living department.
It’s been my experience that when you change how you eat – specifically, when you choose to become a more healthy eater – it’s not uncommon to feel isolated, teased or even ostracized by people that you know.
That’s why in today’s post I wanted to talk about how to handle this situation, as you may experience it too.
Let’s start with WHY “changing your diet” is such a touchy subject.
At its most fundamental level food is nothing more than a source of energy, vitamins and minerals. But we all know that it’s more than that.
Food is culture, family tradition, memories, and at the heart of many (if not most) social events.
This can make it a tricky subject to talk about.
You see, when you decide to change your diet it can send a message to the people around you that you no longer agree with something that you used to do. This wouldn’t be a problem if it wasn’t for the fact that what you’re changing is most likely something that they’re still doing. You’re upsetting the status quo, and they might see you as judging the lifestyle choices they’ve made.
In short, your personal development choices might make people uneasy.
Let me give you an example:
In 2009 one of my best friends was diagnosed with Chron’s disease and placed on a strict anti-inflammatory diet. Despite already being a healthy eater, this was a major lifestyle change (especially for someone who was only 21).
Back then, anti-inflammatory diets weren’t really a big thing. Paleo and veganism lived on the fringes of society, and many people thought autoimmune diseases sounded a little woo-woo…a little “all in their heads”.
So one day my friend told our group that she would no longer be able to participate in our Friday night habit of drinking gin and tonics, and eating Ben & Jerry’s ice cream.
That didn’t go down so well.
Without minimizing my own culpability — I can remember using the expression “you can’t even have one?” —I can tell you that another member of our group (let’s call her ‘Z’) was absolutely shattered.
“What good is it to live in a world where you can’t eat ice cream?” she cried dramatically.
The next Friday night my friend arrived at our house with an apple, a carrot, a bag of nuts and a bottle of water. Z was appalled and couldn’t stop talking about how “dangerous” and “extreme” this diet was.
(Apples, it seems, can have that effect on some people.)
You see, by changing her own diet my friend was challenging the shared Friday night experience that we had come to know and love. Her choices made us all question if we should do things differently too.
To be honest, we weren’t even thinking about WHY she was making those updates (and in hindsight, offering to support her through the process would have been the preferred reaction), but we were only thinking about ourselves.We didn’t like feeling guilty about our own choice to be less than healthy on Friday nights and it seemed to us like she no longer wanted to be part of the pack.
But the silly thing is, that wasn’t her intent at all.She was just making the best decision for herself, and for whatever reason that made us feel uncomfortable.I learned then and there that everyone is responsible for their own choices, and we all need to take ownership of our individual lifestyle decisions.
Since then I’ve been blazing my own healthy trail, which means that I’ve been on the receiving end of this kind of healthy living criticism, and while I don’t believe that people do it maliciously, after a while it does get pretty old.
So in the video below I’m sharing three strategies that you can use to minimize these sorts of experiences, which will allow you to eat what you want, when you want, without feeling judged OR making other people too uncomfortable.
Once you’ve had a chance to watch I’d love to hear from you. So stick around and join in the discussion at the bottom of the page.
What To Do When People Criticize Your Healthy Lifestyle
Now I’d love to hear from you!
Have you ever felt shunned for making healthy lifestyle changes? How did you handle it? Let me know by leaving a comment below.
Here’s a potentially embarrassing confession: I’d get a real kick out of writing for the Dear Abby column. I love sharing helpful advice and thoughtful opinions from the comfort of my own living room…just ask my husband!
However, considering that it’s been almost seven years since graduating with my journalism degree, and Jeanne Phillips — the current owner of the “Abby” pen name — hasn’t yet reached out to me on LinkedIn, I feel that the time has come to take matters into my own hands.
So we’ll be trying a little experiment for the next month or so…
Every Wednesday I’ll dedicate a post to one simple solution or strategy that will make it easier for you to squeeze more healthy habits into your every day life.
I’ll get the ball rolling, but I’d love for you to join in the discussion (see details at the end of this post).
My mission is to help women get back in the driver’s seat of their own health and happiness, by making healthy living simple AND enjoyable. This series should help.
Now on to today’s question…
What is one thing that I can do this weekend to make meal prep easier (if I only have one hour to spare)?
Even an hour spent in the kitchen on the weekend will ultimately save you time and money— and make it easier to stick with your healthy eating habits. It’s a great way to get a head start on your weekday meals.
If there was only ONE thing that I could get done each weekend, it would be to cook and freeze my grains and starches. Preparing foods like rice, quinoa and sweet potatoes during the week is time-consuming, and it doesn’t make sense to do it on a meal-by-meal basis.
Instead, one Sunday a month my husband and I bulk cook these staples, and freeze them in portion sized freezer bags or tupperware containers. Come a random Tuesday evening I’m thrilled to thaw a bag of rice, bake a piece of fish, and cook some veggies with a dollop of butter. While dinner would have taken an hour if we were waiting on the grain, it comes together in 15 minutes (and there’s less washing up).
What can you cook and freeze?
Lots of things actually! We’ve had great success with the following, but I encourage you to experiment (note: these are listed in order of how long they take to cook):
Beans (black, white, kidney, chickpeas…)
Rice (basmati, white, brown and black)
Sweet potatoes (cubed and roasted)
Mashed potato or sweet potato
Butternut squash (cubed and roasted)
TO COOK: Double or triple your regular quantity. Cook as normal. Allow to cool. Freeze in portions that are suitable for you and your family.
TO USE: Defrost in the fridge overnight, or use the microwave; heat in the oven, or use the microwave.
TIP: Start with the ingredient that takes the longest to cook — such as roasting sweet potatoes or boiling rice — and then move on to a quick-cook, like quinoa or pasta. That way everything should be done around the same time…roughly 45 minutes later.
Now I’d Love To Hear From You (Dear Abby…)
What are you struggling with in your health, fitness or self care / self love routine at the moment? What healthy habits do you see other people doing and you wonder — how do they do that? Nothing is too silly or too small!
Let me know in the comments below, and I’ll answer those Qs over the next couple of weeks.
I’ll be the first to admit that I was no math whiz growing up.
In fact, I remember sitting in 9th grade advanced mathematics, tears streaming down my face, while my very intelligent, but not at all understanding teacher, Mr Patel, stood over my desk and pointed at the unanswered equation on my page.
“What’s the answer? What is it? What does this mean?”
I guess he figured that by repeatedly jabbing the end of his spindly finger onto my ink-smudged page — and asking me the same question over and over, in slightly different ways — that the Albert Einstein-esque lightbulb would switch on in my brain, and I’d be able to provide the correct answer.
As you can guess, that didn’t happen.
Mercifully, the next week I was dropped to basic mathematics with the tolerant Mrs Dwyer in room 17J.
Now you may be wondering what this story has to do with your health and happiness, which is a fair question to ask.
Well, scarring childhood memories aside (and the fact that I still struggle to multiply anything that doesn’t end in “0” or “5”), I’m actually a rather big fan of financial books.
And in my readings I’ve realized that my healthy living philosophy is very similar to my take on finding financial freedom. That is to say: a simple and sustainable strategy is going to reap more rewards than a flash-in-the-pan investment with the promise of a quick return.
Play the smart game and you’ll be set up for success…
But try to cut corners for an overnight win and you’ll ultimately find yourself $10,000 in the hole, or in this case, 10 more pounds overweight.
I came to this conclusion after comparing my wellness programs, and health and nutrition philosophy, to those currently making headlines in the glossy magazines.
The popular stuff is very sexy:
Add butter to your coffee and lose 10 pounds by Friday!
Restrict calories two days a week and eat whatever you want the rest of the time!
Train so hard that you want to throw up, and you only need be in the gym for 10 minutes a day!
My stuff, it seems, is more like what your mum might have told you growing up:
Eat your greens…
Get good quality sleep…
Be nice to yourself…
Don’t eat directly out of the chip bag…
It’s ok, you can admit that it seems less cool…
I know it too.
But if you’ve been following along with me for a while you’ll realize that I actually have very little interest in being cool — largely because it’d put a cramp in my “pajamas by 6pm” evening routine.
And the problem is that “cool” and “sustainable” tend not to go hand-in-hand.
So you have a choice to make, my dear friend. Here are your two options:
Be cool today and then commit to staying up to date with the latest trends, fads and quick fixes. (Warning: results not guaranteed.)
Buck the Hollywood trends, and trust that my “back-to-basics” approach is guaranteed to help you reach and maintain all of your wellness goals, and attain life long health and happiness in the process.
Gosh, that last option almost sounds a little sexy, don’t you think?!
So press play on the video below, where I’ll walk you through 14 of the best healthy lifestyle habits so that you can become a wellness Wonder Woman from the comfort of your own jammies.
The Best Healthy Lifestyle Habits For Sophisticated Woman (like you and me)
Once you’ve had a chance to watch, I’d love to hear from you!
Which of these 14 habits are you going to focus on first?
Are you willing to invest in your health by making simple and sustainable changes to your current lifestyle?
Today we’re going to figure out your self love language, which actually starts with your family tree.
If you think about spending five straight days with your favorite family members, what comes up?
Probably thoughts of cheer, sitting around a table sharing food, drink and laughter…
Perhaps a slight feeling of frustration or annoyance — ruffled feathers are bound to happen when you put relatives in a room together for days at a time…
And also indescribable love.
Now, if I ask you to think about your body (specifically your physical appearance), what comes up then?
What are the first three words that come to mind when I say, tell me what you think about your body?
Say them out loud…
Hopefully you just heard yourself say something along the lines of: beautiful, healthy, fit, appreciated, strong, unique, consistent, feminine, comfortable, pretty good or bloody brilliant!
If not, I’d like to offer up an idea:
Try viewing your relationship with your body in a similar way to your relationship with your favorite family members. Some days you love its comfort and reliability, some days it annoys the heck out of you, and some days you adore and admire it so much that you can’t believe its actually yours.
Being body positive doesn’t mean unquestionably adoring yourself at every waking moment. If that’s what you’re working towards, you’re going to be disappointed.
Even those people you love the most can still get on your last nerve from time to time. (And just sometimes, on rare occasions, you might even feel tempted to trade them in for a newer model!) But that doesn’t mean you would go around berating them every day, nor would you constantly compare them to others.
If I asked you to describe your most cherished friends in three words, it’s unlikely that those words would be cruel or critical.
So why do it to yourself?
The average woman has 13 negative thoughts about her own body every day — that’s one for almost every waking hour. Many have upwards of 100.
If you spoke so venomously towards another person chances are you’d be in therapy (or have a restraining order taken out against you). Unfortunately, no one is policing what we say to ourselves. So it’s up to you to take a stand and change your self love language.
It’s important to realize that the language of self love needn’t be hippy dippy or woo-woo. You don’t need to self-identify as a “goddess” to love yourself (despite what social media influencers might tell you). In fact, I believe that using these labels is just another shield to hide behind…it’s easier to throw your hands up and yell “I am a goddess” than it is to look in the mirror and say, “you know what, I’m pretty ok”.
You can be body positive and:
Complain about your creaky knees
Desire to lose or gain weight
Feel a little frustrated that you over-plucked your right eyebrow
Body positivity comes from loving yourself despite your imperfections (or perhaps, because of them).
Being proud of who you are means being real about who you are…
So its time to use real language, speak real words, and have real thoughts and opinions about yourself — just like you do with Uncle Fred.
When you can love yourself unconditionally — even if somedays there are certain things you don’t like — then you have won the body positivity battle.
I thought this was an important point to make as I see more and more women desire to improve their self love practice and fall in love with their body and life. I know this journey takes courage and persistence (I’ve walked its path too), but I also know that once you find the right footing, your life really does change.
So my suggestion for you as you enter a new day: treat your body the way you’d treat a favorite family member, with the self love language of respect, kindness, adoration, frustration (and even the occasional whinge).
So you’ve decided to make healthy eating a priority this year. You want to have more energy, maintain your ideal weight, and feel comfortable and confident in your beautiful body. Trouble is, you have no idea where to start, which begs the question: what’s the best diet for you?
Sound familiar? If so, you’re not alone. For many years I struggled with food and my body. I believed that I couldn’t find the perfect diet, or if I had I must have been doing it wrong. (In the words of my inner critic I lacked motivation,I wasn’t good enough,I would start again tomorrow)
Truth is, I hadn’t actually found an ideal diet for my body, so it made sense that I was having a pretty rough trot with the whole eating thing. But once I figured it out, everything fell into place and questions of motivation were wiped off the table. Because you don’t need to be motivated to eat foods that make you feel great.
Today I’m sharing five actionable steps that will help you also discover your best personal diet. Read on my foodie friend.
Diet Versus Dieting
Before we dive in to the meat and potatoes — i.e. figuring out what you need to eat in order to feel healthy, happy and filled with delicious delight — I need to clarify the distinction between YOUR diet and dietING.
The friendly nerds who contribute to Wikipedia (my darling husband included) tell us that: diet is the sum of food consumed by a person or other organism (1). They go on to talk about dietary choices, the ingestion and absorption of vitamins, minerals and macronutrients for energy, health and longevity. Basically your diet is just another way of saying the foods that you eat.
What makes this word tricky, and almost taboo, is when it ends with “ing”,or sits in a sentence with words such as follow, start, stick to, new, strict, struggle, celebrity and fad.
Going on a diet, or the act of dieting, is synonymous with restriction and deprivation. These are also words that make me think of a short-term commitment, something that you’ll (miserably) try for a while before going back to your regular diet, aka what you normally eat.
It’s a tricky distinction to make, but it’s really important that you do so. You should be able to talk about YOUR diet without people thinking that you’re going on A diet.
I’ve even had comments from women visiting jenniferdenewellness.com who have blasted me for being another so-and-so who is condoning unhealthy body image for women. Hmmmm…guess they didn’t see this post about flaunting your dimplesor this one where I helped you get back in touch with being beautiful you.
Honestly I don’t want to always say “the foods that you eat” or “your nutrition choices” just to be politically correct. A healthy diet means that you eat foods that have a high nutritional value and do wonders for your longterm health. It’s a word that has outlived any single dieting trend, and it’s what we’re talking about today.
Should You Stick To One Type Of Diet?
We’ve established the difference between diet and dieting, which is my cue to step off the soapbox!
Now you may be asking but what about things like the Paleo diet or being a vegan? Are they diets or dieting?
Unfortunately it’s in our culture to label everything we do, which leads to many people using these diets to self-identify — I am Paleo or I am vegan. But restricting yourself to the boundaries of a certain label makes it difficult to honor your body’s needs.
For example, a woman who is trying to get pregnant requires a certain amount of carbohydrates to ensure healthy hormone levels for fertility (2). This becomes a problem if she’s following a strict Paleo or Keto diet that focus on very low carbohydrate intake.
Or what happens when a man who thrived on a vegan diet for years starts experiencing depression, joint pains or fatigue? Will he be open to eating animal foods that will quickly boost his B12 and iron levels, or will he feel unable to make that choice because he has told the world he doesn’t eat meat? (3), (4)
The point is that we shouldn’t have to limit ourselves to stay within the boundaries of a certain label, and we should never, ever be held hostage to the food that we eat. That’s why I see these diets as guidelines…more like a cuisine than a strict set of rules.
I see enormous benefit in the principles of enjoying a vegan, paleo or mediterranean diet. But what works best for me is not following any of them to the letter, and rather taking a mix-and-match approach that suits my body’s unique needs.
With that in mind, here’s the mindset I want you to have as you start to incorporate the following tips into your lifestyle:
Food is just food, it’s not your enemy and it’s not your gate-keeper
I give you all the freedom in the world to combine the best bits of each diet to suit your unique needs — like mashing together potatoes, peas and gravy at Sunday lunch!
How to create the best diet for you
Below you’ll find my five top tips for discovering your best diet yet.
Keep it simple and enjoyable
Overcomplicating anything leads to confusion. A statement that is especially true when it comes to improving personal habits.
Planing 7 days of meals in advance may seem smart, but it’s actually very overwhelming…meal prep is absolutely a skill.
And while I used to do the big Sunday cook-up, I no longer do. These days I prefer to spend a little more time in the kitchen each day, to prepare the right meal for my body on that day. This shift has helped me reconnect with my physical needs and conquer old habits of overeating and emotional eating.
So instead of playing Martha Stewart during the working week, you can simply plan to have a few staples on hand — such as cooked quinoa or rice, roasted sweet potatoes, hardboiled eggs and plenty of washed green veggies. These form the base of an easy meal that you can top with other yummy things.
Get educated (but take other people’s advice with a grain of salt)
Here’s the deal — you can’t succeed at something that you don’t understand. Learning why it’s a really good idea to kick your sugar habit, or that drinking diet-soda is linked to dementia and stroke (5) will make it a heck of a lot easier for you to stick with your new way of eating.
Saying that, it’s also not a good idea to blindly trust every piece of diet advice that you hear. Glossy mags tend to publish the Cliff’s Notes version of any given dietary theory. While this may spark your interest, you really need to understand the why behind the what. I recommend working with a professional who can explain what is the best diet for you, why that’s the case, and how you can follow it.
Keep A Food-Mood Journal
In terms of intelligence, sometimes your body is smarter than your brain. A food diary traditionally tracks calories and quantities. A food-mood journal explores how different types of food make your body feel. I prefer the latter.
Here’s how to get started:
Start a new word doc (or grab a notebook), and create four columns
Column A: record each meal that you eat, listing as many ingredients as possible
Column B: make a note about how you felt physically immediately after eating
Column C: note how you feel 2 hours after eating; this is useful to highlight digestive reactions, note fatigue or energy, return of hunger, etc
Column D: this is a spot for any notes, thoughts or comments that you might have
Your food-mood journal can help you pinpoint the meals and ingredients that make your body thrive.
Be Consistent & Avoid Squirrel Syndrome
Once you’ve found a way of eating that works for you, you’ll need to stick with it. And yes, that includes ignoring the latest trend in Women’s Health or on Dr. Oz.
Again, feel free to gather information, but don’t jump ship on something that’s working well for you. Put your healthy blinkers on and commit to eating your ideal diet for 3 months before making any big changes.
Your Needs Will Change, So Be Adaptable
Avoid squirrel syndrome but also keep in mind that your dietary needs will change over time. Variable factors include: your age, lifestyle and immediate health needs; the climate in which you live; your menstrual cycle (are you pregnant, peri-menopausal, going through menopause or postmenopausal); holiday season and festive eating; and even life events that cause stress, physically, mentally or emotionally.
Creating YOUR own perfect diet is what serves your beautiful body at every stage of life.
You Don’t Need To Do It Alone
Would you like help in discovering your perfect diet? Are you committed to dropping the weight of deprivation, and slipping back into your ideal body and life? Why not find out more about working with me in my Fit, Feminine & Fabulous coaching program. Click here to learn more.