Trade in Your Diets for Healthy Habits

Photo Credit: New York Times

We’re in the middle of a hot summer.  We’ve all got a lot going on – barbecues, summer vacations, camps, concerts, and so on.  When we’re busy, it becomes difficult to stick to healthy eating habits and it becomes all too easy to make excuses or rationalizations.  Dieting sucks during the summer.  There’s so much good food (and drink) around you calling your name.  You give in.  It’s only natural.  What if there was a way to enjoy all of the culinary treats of summer and still stay on the healthy track?  Well, there is and it’s easy.  Let me explain…

Ditch Your Diets
Diets don’t work.  Sure, they can help you lose a few pounds quickly, but they’re not sustainable for the long-term.  If you go on a diet, you will probably lose a few (or many) pounds.  The problem is, the day you stop that diet and resume your normal habits, you’ll put that weight right back on – a heck of a lot more quickly than you lost it.  Why don’t diets work?  Because every single one of them is, in some way, based on deprivation.  Whether it’s low-carb, high-protein, all-juice, or severely cutting calories, you’re depriving your body, and yourself, of something.  Naturally, you can only deprive yourself of something for so long before you cave in and indulge.  It’s just human nature, and it’s the body’s way of telling you it needs something, whether it is carbs, fat, or anything else.

A related observation is that depriving yourself of a particular macronutrient (carbs, proteins, fats) or a particular group of foods is not healthy.  A major component of our functioning bodies is balance.  When you completely eliminate something from your diet, your body’s balance grows askew and it’s ultimately unhealthy for you.

Develop Healthy Habits
Instead of dieting, I believe in developing healthy habits.  Human beings are creatures of habit.  Everything we do today is the result, whether directly or indirectly, of a life habit.  I’ve learned a ton about habits from Leo Babauta at Zen Habits.  When we sleep, how much we sleep, when and how much we eat, what we do in our waking hours, what we do to relax – all of it is shaped by the habits we develop over time.  Specifically, what we eat today is the result of habits that we’ve formed over time.  So it follows that if we want to eat more healthily, we have to change our life habits.  We have to develop new, sustainable, healthy, and fulfilling habits if we want to see lasting results.

This takes time.  Various resources indicate that that it takes 30 days of consistency to develop a new habit.

This is not easy.  Habits die hard.  New ones are difficult to implement and to get used to.

But it’s worth it.  Investing in yourself for just 30 days right now will lead to healthy habits for life.  Once you get past the first 30 days, you’re on cruise control.  You won’t look back.  In fact, you’ll only look forward because you’ll be so excited to further develop your new habits.

Over the next couple of weeks, I will expand on the process of forming healthy habits and what exactly you should do to start being healthy.  If there are any specific topics you’d like me to touch upon, let me know in the comments.

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Filed under Diets, Food, Healthy Habits

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