Getting healthy + staying healthy is all about forming positive, healthy habits. And the hardest part is getting started. Actually, I take that back. The hardest part is one step before that. It is convincing yourself that your health is worth investing time in.
As a Nutritionist I teach people how to get healthy based on their individual needs + abilities, but they first need to decide that their health is even worth it to them before we can move forward. Without that, understanding the benefit of whole-food nutrition seems too hard, too time consuming, too this or too that. I can tell right away if a client is in my office to be told what to do, as opposed to a client who is here to learn from me, grow each day and practice healthy habits. I can tell you from experience that the latter client is the one who is going to benefit the most. That is the client who will eventually turn healthy eating into a healthy lifestyle. And the client who will spread their new knowledge and healthy habits to others. That’s when I know I’ve done my “job” well. That is what makes me so proud to be a Nutritionist.
So I am the first to admit that I haven’t always been healthy and I don’t claim to be “perfectly” healthy to this day. That’s just too much pressure! And there’s really no such thing as perfect. I do, however, make an effort each and every day to make positive choices that will support me rather than deflate me or hinder my progress. I can proudly look back just a couple of years and see the obstacles I’ve overcome, the things that I’ve learned [many through trial + error] and realize that I have the health that I do because I took a personal responsibility to make it happen. And I will continue to make my health my responsibility and my priority because first, I owe it to myself, and second, I owe it to the people around me.
Through my healthy journey I have learned a lot! On a personal level and on a professional level. Here is a list of tools + practices that have helped me form positive habits, and most importantly, stick with them. I hope they can help you do the same.
1. Make a plan.
Decide what’s really important to you. This can be one thing or it can be multiple things. If it helps, write them down. In order to make a positive change in your life you have to decide what that positive change [or changes] is going to be. Is it making an effort to be more positive and happy in life? If so, how will you accomplish that. Is it to become a less picky eater by trying a new vegetable each week? Whatever it is, make sure you are invested in it and are willing to work hard for the outcome.
Become a Nutritionist. That was a plan of mine. Years ago I graduated from college with a degree in Communication and was working at a job I didn’t love. I also had terrible stomach aches, I was tired all the time, and I was desperately trying to out exercise my poor diet of processed + packaged foods that I thought were healthy. I was confused. So I went back to school to become a Nutritionist for me. I wanted to learn how to help me. And what I learned along the way was how to both help myself and others.
Decide what is important to you and make a plan, starting today.
[make a plan.]
2. Have a healthy “ritual”.
To me, a ritual is something that you do consistently and is something that makes a positive impact on your health [i.e. a healthy habit]. It can be as simple as taking 3 minutes to stretch before getting out of bed, deep breathing to manage stress, or shutting down your smart phone an hour before bed. Anything that has a positive impact on your life will do. It’s important that you choose something that you can do regularly because once is not enough. Once will not build a healthy habit.
One of my healthy habits starts first thing in the morning. I start my day with a glass of water and a squeeze of lemon. It’s something that I do on a daily basis that both makes me happy and has a positive impact on my health. Starting my day this way is a simple reminder that my health is in my own hands and I have the power to make a positive impact on my life.
Pick a healthy ritual to start today.
[lemon: nature’s natural detoxifier]
3. Tell someone.
Having a support staff is so important when you’re trying to lead a healthier life. Get people on board with what you’re trying to accomplish, so the people closest to you are not sabotaging your efforts, but are instead supporting them. More often than not I talk to clients who don’t feel supported in their efforts. My goal for you is to find that someone who lifts you up who inspires you and who will listen to your goals and help you reach them. Choose to surround yourself with positive people whether that’s a specific co-worker, friend or family member. And if possible, try and steer clear of the negative people who bring you down. I think you’ll be surprised how much other people can impact your mood, your health and the decisions you make [unhealthy or healthy].
Choose your support staff wisely.
4. With failure comes progress.
Be willing to fail. And be okay with it. Just because you didn’t stick with your “plan” or missed your daily “ritual” doesn’t mean that you’ve failed. In fact, this can be a prime learning experience. And when we learn, we grow. That’s what is really important. When we can accept that we have failed and work harder to because of it, that is when progress really happens. It’s all about how you react to failure. You can do two things:  give up and think negatively  work hard and overcome. It’s your choice.
There was a time back in school when I wanted to give up. More than once in fact. I was overwhelmed and unsure of myself. Could I actually be a Nutritionist? Was I smart enough? I was so close to giving up. But you know what…I didn’t give up. Instead I worked even harder for what I wanted, and look where it got me. Maybe not right away, but three years later, I’m doing what I’ve always wanted to. Not a day goes by that I’m not thankful that I graduated with my Master’s in Nutrition so that I can share my knowledge with you. Not one day.
5. There is no perfect.
Get the word “perfect” out of your vocabulary. Do it now. If you are constantly striving to be perfect, look perfect, and act perfect, you are setting yourself up for a lifetime of disappointment. Sounds harsh, I know, but it’s the honest truth. And stop comparing yourself to others. Once you can let go of the notion that no one is perfect, you are able to ease up on yourself a little bit, live in the moment, and live for you.
I used to have unrealistic expectations about nutrition + exercise. I used to religiously track my calorie intake and exercise output so I could hopefully, one day have the “perfect” body. News flash. If you are striving for perfection you will never get there and never feel good enough. I felt exactly that. Finally I’d had enough. I stopped counting calories completely, started to exercise because it made me feel good rather than for punishment, and I started to listen to my body. Once I did that my life was changed. And my expectations became realistic. Insert: sigh of relief.
Erase the idea of perfect and start living today.
[because homemade cupcakes are so worth it.]
6. Live in the moment.
I know you don’t want to be someone who looks back five years and realizes what a great life you’ve had, but were unwilling to really live it. I know we hear this all the time, but it’s so true so I’m going to say it again. You have to live in the moment and make take it one day at at time. Embrace each new day as a fresh start with a positive attitude. Be willing to take risks. Go on a vacation you’ve always wanted to but never made the time for. Start cooking again. All of the positive things you do each day will add up and leave you feeling fulfilled. Try not to save any room for the negativity, it’s just not worth your time.
For the longest time I have wanted to start a food + nutrition blog. I’ve been reading other blogs for years and just felt envious. I felt like I was always the on-looker rather than the doer. Until now. I finally decided that I can do just what all those other nutrition/food bloggers are doing; and I can have fun doing it. I am so thankful that I took the plunge and started Nutritiously Rooted. I’m so thankful that I decided to live in the moment. And if you’re reading this, thank you!
Is there something you’ve always wanted to do? Start planning for it today.
[my happy place.]
7. Make you a priority.
I can’t emphasize this one enough. You have to be willing to invest time in you. If you can’t do that, you won’t be able to help anyone else. The best part about making yourself a priority is that others will instinctively learn from you, from your wisdom and from your example of healthy living. No one wants to feel tired all the time or fear their health. No one. By making the decision to do whatever it takes to get healthy, you are making yourself a priority. And that’s all that I ask.
I have to admit that when I first started to eat a whole-food based diet, I was met with some resistance from others who didn’t understand why I asked for extra veggies instead of fries, why I passed up the processed cookie, or why I was willing to spend a little more money on my groceries. I wasn’t making those decisions to please others or “fit in”, I was doing it for me. And you know what? Slowly but surely people started to follow suit. Particularly my close family + friends who are beginning to embrace a whole-food based diet + lifestyle, and who are seeing the benefits first hand. I wasn’t willing to compromise my health for anyone else, and because of that I have positively impacted others. Win-win!
Are you ready to put you first?
I hope this post will help you build some lasting healthy habits. It just takes a decision and a commitment, so why not get started today? Have questions or comments, let me know in the comments below.