Eat right – Lose weight without giving up on your favourite foods

Diet, nutrition, and any other food-related topic shouldn’t feel like Mission: Impossible. After all, this is food we’re talking about. The stuff you need to eat every day. The stuff you should be enjoying as part of the many joys in life.

This year, let us try something different. Call it a rebellion, a revolution, or just a renaissance, but we’re taking back food and enjoyment and reinventing it with a practical, scientifically supported approach to eating, living, and being healthier. That means including foods you love, creating workouts that fit your schedule, and never ever ever setting false expectations.

So let’s start with a different checklist:

  • No juice cleanses
  • No expensive supplements
  • No restrictive approaches that will leave you miserable and reaching for every food you miss
  • No four-week fixes

Start Simple

Most people love checklists because it feels awesome to cross off items and feel accomplished. The accomplishment part is great. The long list? Not so much. Whether or not you realize it, you’re laying the foundation for failure.

Success depends on consistency more than anything. So instead of asking, “What do I want to accomplish?” ask, “What’s the easiest thing I can do every day that will help me toward my goal?”

The “every day” part is important, because we’re shifting your mindset away from nuanced, difficult tasks to practical, doable ones. Start with simpler tasks you can master. For example:

  • I will eat vegetables twice per day.
  • I will sleep at least seven hours per night.
  • I will drink two glasses of water with every meal.
  • I will go to the gym three times during the week.

You could list endless habits that are designed to build behaviors. But start with one task and one only. Go slow to go fast. You do not need to eat chicken and broccoli for every meal, every day. Making change is hard. No one wants to admit it, but it’s true. So don’t make it harder by creating too many goals at once or by focusing on goals that seem like scaling a mountain instead of going for a walk. You’ll get to the mountain, but it’s better to build up momentum.

Make It Easy on Yourself

The other key is to leave room for imperfection. Let’s say your goal is: “I will go to the gym three times during the week.” Setting a goal of three times should not be your goal if you think that’s the maximum amount you’ll be able to go per week. Because if you’re slammed at work and only make it to the gym once, you’ll feel like you’ve failed.

You want to make it as easy as possible to succeed. We all are susceptible to a psychological concept called “learned helplessness”: Fail enough, and you come to expect failure. This is the foundation of bad fitness. Yet, all too often we set goals that increase the likelihood of failure. If you make your goals easy, you’re on the right track. Small successes will create positive reinforcement.

Give yourself two to three weeks to crush each mini-goal. Once you’re consistently hitting the gym twice per week (or whatever makes sense for you), then add another goal. Then another. Each opportunity will give you the chance to build a habit you can master. As time goes on, you can make the goals much more specific and difficult. But when you do, you’ll be building on a solid foundation of habits that will make it very difficult to slide back to the old you.

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