Working as a Personal Trainer and wellness coach I have witnessed many struggles at a healthier lifestyle. Many of my clients have struggled with feelings of defeat. They would become fatigued and frustrated as they put forth their efforts, only to feel as if they’re stuck at their starting point. Often, I would hear “I will never reach my goals”, or “I will never have enough willpower to change my habits”. These clients spoke from a place of hopelessness; and that alone was their biggest defeat.
The reality is changing your nutrition can be very challenging. It presents all types of obstacles. When we carry feelings of hopelessness we project failure into the future. Assuming we will fail, we stop trying. If we are waiting for the day of a smoothed paved road to success, we will be waiting a lifetime. These obstacles will never disappear. As these obstacles will continue to present themselves we must strategize how to work through them. If you are feeling challenged by nutritional changes, it is not time to give up; it’s time for a different approach.
Below are my top five strategies to incorporate when making nutritional changes. These 5 tips I have helped clients transform from hopeless to hopeful.
1. Get grey with your thinking
A very common obstacle at a healthier lifestyle is approaching it with black and white thinking. This type of thinking produces feelings of failure and a defeat. For instance, if you had a cookie this does not mean all efforts before this cookie go out the window. It’s not cookie or bust. If we approach our nutrition with a cookie or bust attitude, we then rationalize to eat the entire box. Unreasonable expectations can lead to self-judgment and all or nothing thinking. Leave your black and white thinking behind, get grey with your thinking, be reasonable. By eliminating an extremist view we avoid destruction in our nutritional efforts.
2. Acknowledge cravings
There is always a physiological reason as to why we experience cravings. Cravings are a message your body is sending you, but this doesn’t mean we cannot get our fix in a healthier source. Craving candy can be a need for sugar. Combating that craving with oranges, berries, and bananas is a great option. Craving a large juicy burger may mean you are low in iron or could use some extra protein. Supplementing our cravings can be impressively satisfying. As we supplement our cravings our body starts to connect its needs with different healthier food sources. Eventually we will start craving the healthier options and, if we are meeting our needs we will also greatly reduce the frequency of cravings all together.
3. Plan Ahead
If you really want something to workout, do you sit back and leave it up to fate? Or do you do everything in your power to make it happen? Instead of waiting to see what is served for dinner, or what takeout is open after work, get ahead of the game. By planning your meals, you take power of your nutrition. This will also give you a bird’s eye view. You’ll be more incline to how many calories you are eating, and your meal timing. As you plan you will also decrease the anxiety and worry of making the right choice.
4. Don’t fall victim to circumstance
There will be times when we are prepared as possible, but life comes our way. Unexpected events, or even planed celebratory events can subject us to unhealthy food options. Consider these circumstances another obstacle. Example, just because you found yourself held back at work and unable to get home to your pre-made salad, it’s not a reason to dive into 4 slices of pizza followed by ice cream (Black and white thinking). An extra challenge is being thrown your way, find the healthiest option available. If there are low to no healthier options available remember to always work off portion control. You will still be maximizing your efforts and limiting your calories.
5. Stay present
If you have experienced trial and errors on your nutritional journey, you may assume you cannot make changes because it was impossible in the past. Conquer those thoughts as you remain present. If you are taking positive action in the present moment to reach your goals, that alone is enough evidence that you will get there. Leave the past in the past. Tomorrow we will take on tomorrow. By staying present we diminish thoughts surrounding past experiences and future worry. With a clearer head we can face each obstacle tactful as could be.
When making nutritional changes it is easy to convince ourselves we cannot reach our goals due to obstacles that are outside of our control. When we have a true understanding of our power we can find solutions to each obstacle. As my clients moved forward in their journeys they found peace within their efforts. They began reaching their goals and looking forward to the future. Strategizing through nutritional changes has offered my clients adaptability. It has offered them energy and satisfaction; it has offered them hope.