I’m that girl that when the world is falling apart at the seams is like, “BUT WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS?!”
It’s just who I am. I see tremendous potential in people and situations who have a hard time seeing it in themselves.
And nothing aggravates me more than diet culture robbing people of actual growth, happiness, or actual health.
Diets suck for a myriad of reasons, but mostly because they 1.) rob you of joy and a healthy, balanced, empowering relationship with food, 2.) are a bandaid and distraction of what you may actually need to tend to.
Below i’ve compiled my top 10 fave things to do instead of going on a diet that will ACTUALLY bring about true health – physically yes, but also mentally, spiritually and emotionally as well.
START doing less, not more
Read the book Do Less by Kate Norhtrup. You may scoff like I did at the title, but it changed my LIFE!
As a type A, enneagram 3, Aquarius, do MORE, nothing-is-ever-good-enough-perfectionist, I actually lol’d at the title of this book when it was suggested by my business coach (huge shoutout to Laura Schoenfeld – you’re the sh*t).
But, since I try to keep an open mind and had been struggling with burnout, I decided to give it a whirl. To put it simply – this book changed my life.?
Among other HUGE nuggets of wisdom and time saving, life saving hacks, one of my favorite quotes from the book is:
“Energy saved is always time saved. Why? Because when you’re leaking your energy into beating yourself up, beating someone else up, trying to change someone, or trying to do something that doesn’t actually matter to you, you not only have less energy for what does matter to you, you also have a tendency to have trouble focusing, to lose your creative edge, and to feel uninspired…The awareness of what matters to you will begin to create seismic shifts in your life without you having to do much else.”
This is how I decided to get over myself and my control-freak tendencies and hire an assistant. This frees up my time and allows me to be more present for what really matters in life – like making precious memories with my family, getting outside more, and nurturing my body, mind and spirit so I can be the best me I can be. Definitely one of the best decisions of my entire life. ??
START talking nicer to yourself.
Our thoughts control our behaviors, and we can change our thoughts. What we feed grows so if you’re always talking crap about/to yourself, of course you’re gonna feel poopy.
Notice your self-talk. Is it mean? Would you talk to someone you love that way? The next time you bully yourself, say STOP! Then, ask what your inner loving self might say, or what you would say to a friend. Notice how this changes your behavior. Some examples:
Bully: I am so horrible for not exercising this week
Loving self: I guess I needed some time to rest my body, good for me!
Bully: I can’t believe I ate ____ last night.
Loving self: I had such a nice dinner with my family last night, I nourished my body with delicious food and had an awesome time!
1st step noticing, 2nd step reframe. Nothing good ever comes from shame, blame or guilt in my opinion.
Need a book for this? Try You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero.
START creating boundaries around phone time
Before I addressed my own phone addiction, my screen time calculator on my phone showed a whopping 6+ hours a day. So in a year, if I kept this up I’d have spent 2,190 hours on my phone or NINETY ONE and ¼ days!!!!!!!!! That’s ridiculous. And definitely NOT how I want to be spending my precious time here on earth.
You guys know I LOVE books, and I read a lot of them. If there’s ONE book I’d recommend you make it a goal to read this year it’s Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport. Click here to check it out.
The thing I love about Cal’s book is that he doesn’t talk down to you from a moral hilltop about how bad social media and phones are and how they’re ruining the world. He simply provides the backstory (why we care), exercises for introspection based on how YOU want to utilize your phone/social media, and practical suggestions for how to create a relationship with your phone and social media that YOU are in control of and feels good to you.
START curating a social media feed that reflects your values and promotes a positive healthy relationship with food and your body
(Blog post coming soon with even MORE info!) Social media is obviously very beneficial. You probably heard of me/my blog via social media! I’m not saying it’s all bad BUT I notice a direct relationship between how my clients feel about food and their bodies based on the accounts they’re following on social media. One of my initial suggestions in working with them to heal their food and body relationships is to do a social media reboot. Some quick tips to improve your feed:
Unfollow anyone that:
- Promotes, idolizes, or glorifies one body type over all others
- Fails to celebrate natural body diversity
- Recommends cutting out entire food groups or foods without a legit medical diagnosis
- Promotes a perfectionistic way of eating
- Promotes weight loss as a means of achieving higher status, happiness, worth, or value
- Makes you feel like shit when you look at their page/posts
Follow people who:
- Promote and celebrate body diversity – the fact that bodies come in all shapes and sizes
- Promotes a variety of foods and food groups and eating for emotional, mental, and spiritual health in addition to physical health
- Makes you feel good/positive when you look at their page/posts
Need suggestions on people to follow? Check out my resource list here.
START your day off right
Do you immediately grab your phone as soon as your eyes open up? Do you realize you’re letting your emails, text messages, or bank alerts dictate the mood you wake up in? I didn’t either until I read Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport and started realizing how addicted I was to my phone – starting from my very first moments waking up. I also realized I was letting my phone alerts dictate what kind of mood I was starting my day in, rather than ME deciding what mood or what kind of day I wanted to have.
One of the best things I ever did was invest in a soothing alarm clock (click here) to wake me up to the sounds of birds chirping and a gentle artificial sunlight filling my room instead of my phone alarm. This way, I can leave my phone in the other room overnight and I’m not tempted to check “all the things” as soon as I wakeup.
THEN spend as long as you can NOT looking at your phone. Try not to look for the first hour you’re awake. Develop a morning routine to start your day how YOU want to whether that means a soothing bath or shower followed by a quick meditation, journaling or reading a few pages of a spiritual book, or snuggling your pet(s) or kid(s). This morning for example, I had two cups of coffee snuggled in bed reading my new fave book Wintering by Katherine May.
Often times we know these things (meditation, yoga, journaling, reading, quiet time) fill our soul and our cup up, but we “don’t have time”. Yet when I ask clients how long they spend on social media in a day, it’s typically around 2-4 hours so the whole don’t have time thing I don’t buy 🙂
START eating more vegetables
When someone asks me what’s the #1 thing they could do right now to improve their physical health, my answer is simple – eat more veggies. They are legit POWERHOUSES of nutrients – fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and are super filling so they can help you feel more satisfied with your meals.
2 tips on how to eat more veggies…
Add butter and salt. If you give me a plain bowl of steamed broccoli and expect me to eat it, you’re going to be disappointed when I politely excuse myself from the table and never come to your house for dinner again. And this is coming from someone who LOVES vegetables. But I have a few tricks.
If I had a dollar for every time my clients started eating WAY more plants because we gave them permission to flavor their veggies, i’d be filthy rich. Only about 10% of Americans eat the recommended amount of fruits and veggies per day. And why? Probably a lot of reasons.
Access, not as fresh as they should be, etc. One huge reason I see my clients avoiding veggies is because they say they’re “boring”. And I don’t blame them! They’re forcing themselves to eat sad salads with low-fat flavorless dressing or plain steamed broccoli. So what happens? They avoid veggies altogether and they get constipated, their energy suffers, they get sick easier, etc etc. They know they should eat more veggies but they’re too scared of full fat dressings or butter or salt so they avoid them. I’m zero percent concerned with adding a little butter or salt to some roasted veggies, or full fat dressing to a salad for the regular Joe – and this is after 8 years as a registered dietitian.
If you’re on a sodium restriction from your doctor or have heart concerns, ask them. But for everyone else, the health benefits of eating more #veggies FAR outweigh any negatives that #dietculture has led you to believe exist in a little extra butter or salt. What’s your fave way to eat veggies?
And secondly, add veggies into what you’re already eating. Some of my faves are:
- Mac and cheese + broccoli
- Pizza + bagged salad (for ease – i’m not a salad from scratch kinda gal personally)
- Scrambled eggs + spinach
- Sauteéd pepper and onions with tacos or fajitas
- Roasted cauliflower and brussels sprouts as a side dish
Need more help on how to cook veggies? Check out my dietitian colleague’s amazing cookbook literally called How to Cook Vegetables. She breaks down TONS of veggies in terms of how to cook, store, and prepare. Highly recommend!
START eating more fun foods
Nine times out of ten when clients start working with me, they’re oscillating between restrictive diets and bingeing/feeling out of control with food. Our first step is to normalize eating. We do this by adding some structure with regular meals and snacks with a variety of foods so they’re bodies and brains can feel “safe” that food is coming again, thereby reducing the binge likelihood. Bingeing is a normal response to restriction or starvation – it’s not your fault.
So THEN we have them normalize eating fun foods. Think – the foods you eat not for nutritional reasons (fiber, vitamins, minerals, etc) but for maybe emotional, mental, spiritual or religious reasons – which are all JUST as important as physical health. Typically the foods you feel most out of control with are the ones you’ve restricted the most. Check out my post on How to Stop Feeling Out of Control With Food here for more on this.
START your intuitive eating and body image healing journey
We can say diets suck all we want (they do!) but it’s like, okay well what can I do instead? I remember when I gave up drinking and got sober (different situation, I get it but stay with me) I was like yeah okay cool i’ll stop drinking but now what? By finding a recovery journey that included community, self-reflection and new coping skills I’ve been able to stay sober.
It’s similar with Intuitive Eating allowing you to avoid diets. Intuitive Eating is a non-diet food freedom filled approach to nutrition and wellness. There are ten principles (you can read more about them here!) that help you make peace with food, your body and health. Things like developing coping skills, learning your hunger and fullness cues, and discovering ways to move your body that promote health vs. punishment.
START (or continue) asking for help
This year has been treacherous to say the least. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, anxious, depressed, or struggling in any way – ask for help. I’m 7 years sober this coming March (St. Patrick’s day – hehe!) because I asked for help. I’ve also been on/off in therapy since I was 16. I’ve had anxiety and depression since I can remember. I’ve struggled with panic attacks and suffered from PTSD as a result of a jet ski accident that almost took my life. No matter what you’re struggling with, this is your friendly reminder that asking for help is not a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength. Two resources I like are psychologytoday.com and Therapy Matcher from the National Association of Social Workers here.
START doing exercise you actually enjoy and respect where your body (and mind) is at.
I haven’t worked out in months. I just can’t get into the whole workout-from-home-and-also-work-from-home-and-do-everything-from-home vibe of 2020. The last thing I want to do after being cooped up inside working all day is do a workout – inside.
BUT I know that for me personally, I need to move my body for my mental health – endorphins baby! So i’ve been going for walks outside whenever I can. Sometimes they’re quickies like legit 5-10 minutes and sometimes i’m gone for hours. I leave my phone at home and don’t wear headphones so I can really just be present with my thoughts and limit distractions.
I plan to get back into a yoga routine soon to wind down before bed, but HIIT, running or home workout videos are just NOT doing it for me. The best exercise is the one you like doing and adds positivity to your life, full stop. If it hurts, you hate it, or you’re punishing yourself with it, it’s no bueno.
I hope this post inspires, encourages and empowers you and leaves you feeling like there are so many healthy alternatives to starting yet ANOTHER diet this New Year. Cheers to 2021!