It’s the side of healthy living that we don’t always take the time to look at. We ignore it, pretend it doesn’t exist, and deny it, but it’s a real risk. A lot of people make themselves miserable through dieting. It has real and serious links to depression. Ignoring it isn’t the answer. It all comes out eventually. What we need to do instead is look at why your diet might be making you miserable and tackle the risks so you can get healthy while staying happy.
Love yourself, always
What drives your desire to diet and be healthy? Is it an aspiration to live a healthier life and to prolong your physical well being for as long as possible? Or is it an aspiration of fear driven by a sense of unhappiness with your current state? If it’s the latter, then physical health isn’t the only thing you need to learn. Self-love must be a part of your journey. Weight loss and better health is a journey and one with slow-showing results. Take real efforts to introduce body positivity into your life, even while you’re trying to change your body. Visit body positive blogs. Don’t let scales ruin the reality of changes you might see in the mirror and how you feel. Realize that goals like wanting to feel confident in a bikini are just as important to your long-term health. But don’t fixate on the negative. If you do, you will always find something about yourself to make you unhappy, regardless of how you change. It paints a skewed picture of yourself that no-one else sees.
Once you reach initial goals, it’s easy for your efforts to taper off. You get back to bad habits that can reverse your progress. When that happens and you “bottom out”, that can create a lot of guilt, shame, and even anger at yourself. Whilst being kind to yourself is always crucial, it’s also important to consider not just short-term goals but long-term motivation. How do you stay motivated? Keep looking at other ways to get healthy, instead of losing weight, for one.
If you’re still on your way to those long-term goals, it might feel like they’re never coming. There are some parts of a diet that are hard and there are few ways to get around them. Learning the lesson of delayed gratification is just one of those. When you start out dieting and exercising, it can feel insurmountable because you don’t know how to do it. Facing those challenges is scary, regardless of what anyone says, and the idea of retreating into bad habits can be a very comforting one. But as long as you keep telling yourself you can’t, you won’t. Tell yourself that you will, that in future, you will be more confident, knowledgeable, and that you will have the rewards of your progress to show for it. Visualize that success and the path towards it, instead of expecting instant change.
It’s not just the food you eat that matters. Yes, replacing what you eat with healthier alternatives are going to make some impact. However, you also have to consider the relationship with food in general. If you keep old habits but change the foodstuffs involved, then you’re engaging in a high-risk activity that can easily slide back into unhealthy eating. Change your eating habits, instead. Avoid eating out on the weekends by doing your grocery shop on Friday, not at the start of the week, so you have fresh food that you’re more eager to make. Eat the vegetables and proteins on your plate before the carbs to make sure you’re getting full off healthy stuff, not the carbs that accompany them. Structure your meals through the day, accounting for snacks, rather than grazing or, even worse, trying to stick only to main meals without any planned snacks. You want to make it easier to avoid the craving of going back to the fridge between meals, not harder.
Tackle more than your gut
One of the biggest issues with diets is that too many of them consistently target only how to lose weight. That does not make a healthy lifestyle. It doesn’t consider things like your energy levels which play a huge level in how happy and motivated you feel. It also doesn’t target things like detoxing the body of supporting your vital functions. Balance your diet instead of leaning too heavily on just one food, and use tools like a 28 day detox tea plan when you’re controlling calories to make sure that you’re not lacking the energy and nutrition your body needs. You might want to deprive yourself of calories and unsaturated fats, but you shouldn’t deprive yourself of the stuff your body actually needs.
Crash diets eventually crash
Which brings us to the one kind of diet you should be particularly wary of. Crash diets can work in the short term to reach certain goals for certain people. However, in general, the idea that a quick fix is going to solve everything puts you at risk of failing to tackle the real issues behind your current lifestyle. If you’re new to diet and exercise, don’t go straight for the crash diet. They are a lot more difficult than changing habits a bit at a time, even if they seem easier to understand, which means you’re more likely to fail them.
Feeling full is important. Not just so you don’t feel like you’re starving yourself. Your body needs to think it’s eaten a certain amount to make it easier to lose weight. Reaching your resting metabolic rate is essential, but you can go further and trick your body into thinking it’s eaten a lot more than it has. You do this through high-volume, low-calorie foods. Eating a lot of these isn’t going to pack on the pounds, but it is going to make you feel a lot more sated. Such foods include broccoli, broth-based soups, whole fruits and even popcorn.
Keep exercise fun
Not everyone belongs in a gym. They can be great places to learn from professionals and access equipment you might not otherwise have. But for some people, they don’t represent a motivational, purpose-built center for fitness. They can feel more like a torture chamber you keep convincing yourself to go back to. Unless you can keep exercise fun, however, you’re going to make it a lot harder for yourself to make it a part of your lifestyle that becomes an unconscious habit. You need to find the exercise that’s fun for you. Might it be better to get some gear in the garage and work out in peace and privacy? Could you reach your goals by getting some fresh air and walking? Can you fit more activity into your day in little pieces? Is there a sport you’re particularly keen to try out?
Support and guidance are crucial
You might be self-sufficient so-and-so, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t use a bit of support every now and then. Joining fitness chat rooms and forums online won’t only help you get more educated on what you’re doing and help you optimize your results. If you stay insulated and keep your results and progress to yourself, you run the risk of only listening to your harshest critic: yourself. Setting up a support system helps you keep a more objective look on your progress, giving you the chance to be proud and happy with what you’ve done rather than always looking at what you haven’t done yet.
From a biological and chemical level, a healthier lifestyle makes it easier to stay happy. But you have to account for all of that lifestyle, not just your weight-loss. Your energy levels, your motivation and psychology, your habits. They all matters.