Nutrition, like exercise, is considered by many to be lifestyle, not a means to an end. What’s great about lifestyle is it can shift, but only in small increments. The human body craves nutritious and healthy food and good quality exercise. Yet because of the way we have evolved, it is easy to be self-destructive with the foods and activity patterns of modern society. I would like you as the reader, not to be defensive towards the ideas listed here. Read them, learn them, and even apply them if you wish.
I have been living a low sugar/carb, natural diet for a few years now. I stay away from most processed and high sugar foods. Though last week I visited my Aunt’s house in long island and fell away from my normal diet. She makes the greatest chocolate chip cookies known to man and just like crack-cocaine, the high of getting one is all about getting more. After eating about 12 cookies, I became nauseous (like I usually do) and felt sluggish for the next 2 days. It's easy to realize how un-healthy certain things are when you don’t have them often. But how can you move to a healthier lifestyle? It’s not as easy as a magical transformation or going cold turkey from all un-healthy foods… It’s about small lifestyle changes.
Below is a screen shot of a healthy lifestyle presentation I made for increasing athletic performance. The graph stresses the importance of taking small steps to change your lifestyle. You will notice you become stressed when your lifestyle shifts toward the less-healthy, you also become stressed (temporarily) when your lifestyle shifts to a healthier state. Only when this new stress dissipates and becomes part of your normal lifestyle should you include another healthy habit and stress the lifestyle again. (Athletes, does this sound familiar? Stress the body, rest, stress the body, rest)
How to: Try using the following steps to make small lifestyle changes healthier and happier living!
The LAME Method
Limit – Every 2-3 weeks, limit intakes of damaging nutrition. Find one “un-healthy” staple of your diet and greatly reduce your intake. Some examples would be Soda, Fast-food, or other processed foods that may be high in added sugars, hydrogenated, or partially hydrogenated oils. This goes for activity as well, for instance, you could limit TV to two hours instead of three.
Add – Every 2-3 weeks, increase your intake of healthy nutrition. Find a healthier food to try to regularly add to your diet. These can include fresh vegetables, fresh fruits, olive oil, eggs, or even daily goals. Goals could be shown as “eating a fresh vegetable/fruit at every meal,” or eating a healthy non-sugar/carb-heavy breakfast every day. You can commit to add a 15-30 minute slow walk around the neighborhood after meals. These smalls decisions will add up over the weeks and months and slowly develop your lifestyle without stress.
Maintain – After your 2-3 week lifestyle shift ends and a new cycle begins, try to continue with the small lifestyle changes you had made recently and try to incorporate another cycle of changes with those. If you haven’t become completely accustomed to the new changes that were made, don’t incorporate anything new but take another week or two and get used to what you changed. It’s not perfect, but what lifestyle is?
Enjoy – You may find that over time you can’t imagine how you lived without the new changes. Your changes hopefully become routine and easy to remember over time. Just remember, it’s just a series of small, slow steps to healthier living. But the most important factor is to ENJOY what you are doing. If you don’t like tofu, try eggs, if you don’t like zucchini, try a cucumber instead. Tastes, preferences, and abilities all vary and there are endless possibilities to living healthy! Eat, Exercise, Enjoy!