3 things that actually help you feel better and get healthier
You know when you start a diet, you immediately feel in control, excited, maybe even euphoric. And for the first couple days, you feel better, your energy increases, and you can't believe you waited to long to do this because you're sure it will absolutely transform your life!
Even writing about it now it sounds kind of tempting to me...I want to feel excited, in control, happy, and energetic!
So why don't I do it? Because I know what is absolutely inevitable: the crash. Most diets require extreme habit changes that aren't sustainable (that's the only way to see dramatic results). Most diets require you to eat far less than your body needs, and maybe start exercising at the same time. This creates a huge calorie deficit that catapults your body into starvation survival mode.
So you might feel good for a few days, but soon you are going to get really hungry, really grumpy, really tired, and have a really hard time sticking to the plan. If you are a dieter, I know this sounds familiar...and you probably blamed yourself for not having enough willpower, didn't you?
You didn't do anything wrong. Diets are absolutely engineered to fail.
Our bodies don't work like that--we don't improve ourselves through starvation. We are programmed to do one thing: survive (primarily by eating enough). And dieting pushes absolutely every survival alarm button in our body, so our bodies do everything they can to save us: increasing weight gain, decreasing energy, and slowing metabolism (ever noticed how dieting gets harder and harder and weight gain gets easier and easier??).
So, how can you create some of that control, euphoria, and energy in other ways?
3 Ways to Feel Better Right Now:
- Start practicing gratitude. Instead of thinking about what you don't have or what you'd like to have, think about what you already have. Really appreciating all your current blessings is the surest way to shift your thinking and create genuine happiness. Wake up every day and review all the ways you are blessed. From the food in your kitchen to the water running out of your faucet, from the shoes you wear to the reliable car that gets you to the grocery store. There are a million reasons to be darn thankful that you were born where and when you were and enjoy all the comforts and privileges that you do.
- Start practicing self-compassion. Chances are, if you're not happy with some aspect of your life, you are really hard on yourself. It is natural to feel totally responsible for every short-coming we have or every challenge we experience--but not necessarily accurate or productive. Instead of berating yourself, give yourself a pep talk. Shift your thinking from self-criticism to self-support. There's a big difference between, "This always happens! I always screw things up!" and "OK, so that didn't work. Let me try and figure out a way to do it better next time." Your mindset is a huge determinant of your feelings of happiness and well-being.
- Focus on basic self-care. Rather than abruptly starting a dramatic life-altering change-everything-at-once kind of process (sounds kinda like a diet, doesn't it?), make small, sustainable changes to your daily habits. Start by identifying 2 or 3 things you think you could improve upon (again, we're focusing on habits, not personal attributes). Make a plan for how to improve those habits throughout your day. Think about adding things in (abundant, positive thinking!) rather than taking things away (restrictive, diet thinking). For example, maybe you think you could stand to drink more water, work on stress management, and eat more vegetables. So you make a [gentle, loving] plan to drink a glass of water first thing in the morning, sit quietly and breathe deeply for 10 minutes before bed, and have a green vegetable with dinner as often as possible. Once those new habits take root and you feel confident, think of 2 or 3 more things you could work on. Small, slow, incremental changes are far more likely to lead to long-term improvement.
If you have an eating / body image / food-related question, email me and let me know! You may be the star of my next Q&A Blog Post!