As featured in Tumbleweird, Vol. 4, Issue 1 (tumbleweird.org):
The Tipping Point
We all have a tipping point, especially when it comes to our bodies. That moment when we realize we can’t hide from the truth about our health any longer. My tipping point was trying on bridesmaid dresses. To get a dress that would fit, I had to ask for a size I never expected to need. That was the moment I was forced to admit a truth: I hated how I looked in pictures. I know how vain this sounds, but I had expectations for myself and I was not meeting them. At that moment, I resolved to make a change and regain control of the person I wanted to be. But where to start?
There is a plethora of material at our fingertips telling us how we should look and how to do it. A google search for “How to lose weight?” returns over 787 million results! Each year we make New Year’s resolutions to lose weight, go to the gym, eliminate junk food, and so on. Despite good intentions, according to a 2016 article from Business Insider, 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail by February.
My journey started at the end of January 2018. Like many, I had not made any resolutions. I also knew I didn’t want to make the drastic lifestyle change that is typical that time of year. Instead, I wanted to make a change that would last for many years, a Lifestyle Resolution. From my experience this past year, I found three easy steps anybody can use.
Step 1: The More You Know
To make a lasting change, start with gathering knowledge. It doesn’t matter what the starting topic, but don’t spend too much time doing this. You want to gather just enough information to take that first step toward something new and lasting. For me, I started by gathering information about nutrition. I looked into various diets and learned about nutrient density, what foods can prevent nutrient uptake, and what nutrients are best to get from food versus a pill.
Next, take the information you’ve gathered and create a starting point. It made sense to me to eat whole (unprocessed) foods that were nutrient dense with the fewest anti-nutrients possible. I started to follow a “pegan” diet, a term coined by Dr. Mark Hyman – a combination of paleo and vegan (find out more at www.mindbodygreen.com). Essentially, I removed wheat, packaged foods and sweets, and nearly all fast foods. I focused on organic and chose meats that were raised naturally. Then I scoured Pinterest for easy to make recipes.
Step 2: Imperfect Beginnings
Any new change is going to take some consistent prep work in the beginning. A structured plan and schedule will help ensure this change will become a habit. With a change in diet, it can help to pick one day per week and prepare all your meals for the week. This makes you less likely to stray from the food you should be eating, especially on those days when you work late and don’t feel like cooking. This works well for some. What I found worked best for me is to pick a few simple recipes for that week and prepare enough leftovers to provide lunches or quick dinners for a few more days.
Plan to make an alteration to your budget. It could be a gym membership or, in the case of dietary changes, food costs. When I buy groceries, I stick to the outer edges of the store. This is where the fresh meats and produce are located and ensures I only have good, quality foods on hand at home. Buying strictly organic can get expensive. To keep the cost down, I keep the Environmental Working Group’s “dirty dozen” (www.ewg.org) in mind and do my best to ensure I buy these produce organic, the rest when I can.
Step 3: Adapt To You
No matter the plan you start with, it will not be perfect. It is impossible to know exactly what will work for you until you begin. The point is to start, knowing you will need to make adjustments as you go. Not only did I make adjustments to when and how I initially prepared meals, but I also adopted the 80-20 rule. It is unlikely anyone can stick to any new change 100% of the time. Instead, if you go into the change with the intention of sticking with the plan 80% of the time, you can eliminate the guilt for the 20% of the time you don’t. This made it easier for me to go out with friends, enjoy dinner at my parent’s home, and not feel I need to starve unless I made the food myself.
It’s been nearly a year, I’m still learning and adjusting, but I know this change is permanent. I’m at a weight that feels good for my body and my health has greatly improved. I’m continuing to learn about how different foods affect me and have eliminated or reduced a few that I’ve learned I am sensitive to.
With the new year, I’m starting research into my next Lifestyle Resolution. Instead of waiting for another tipping point, I’m evaluating my health and picking today one of the areas I keep thinking about changing “someday”. Want to join me? Share your Lifestyle Resolution journey with me in the comments below or join the 2019 Lifestyle Resolution group at Erika’s Lifestyle Lab on Facebook: @erikaslifestylelab.