‘It’s not a short term diet, it’s a long term lifestyle change’
Last month I reviewed my alcohol consumption and took part in Dry January. The results were phenomenal. I cannot explain how great I felt throughout the month and I credit this mainly due to not drinking. A summary of what I found:
- I socialized no less than normal
- I had equal amounts of fun than I usually do
- I had better conversations
- I slept 100 times better
- I had much more energy
- I was way more productive than usual
- I felt happier in myself
So, all these benefits from not drinking alcohol, why on earth would I start again? Well, I have set myself limits and already I can see my habits changing. I have been out with friends and not drunk any alcohol, even though Dry January was over. I am deciding which nights to drink and when not too, rather than just automatically drinking. When I have drunk, I have drunk much less and much more slowly. I really feel like this is a permanent change. I feel so much better for it, it makes it easier to stick to! I have a few challenges coming up with some big nights out planned, so I’ll see how I get on with them.
My key learning from January was to change my habits around drinking. Rather than automatically ordering alcohol when I am eating out or meeting friends, I am considering whether or not to drink alcohol or to stick to soft drinks. I am also establishing the habit that one drink is possible, it doesn’t have to turn into more.
This month my focus is on diet or more specifically healthy eating. I’m going to follow the same 5 step process as it works really well for me:
Break down the goal into what I want to achieve
My main goal is to eat healthily and mindfully and not overeat unnecessarily. I want to eat a healthy diet, predominatly plant based with limited junk food and white refined food. I am happy to treat myself from time to time, as long as I am doing it through mindful choice rather than mindlessly overeating.
Define minimum and maximum standards
Eat only when I am hungry
Stop eating when I am full and leave the rest for later or take for takeaway if I am eating out
No meat (I am vegetarian)
Fish only once a week (I currently still eat fish, so you can call me pescatarian, but I’m not a fan of that word! I am trying to reduce this)
I will take my lunch to work every day to ensure I am eating healthily in the day. If I am not able to prepare a lunch to take to work I will choose the healthiest option on the menu.
Identify barriers that might stop me from being successful
When I let myself get too hungry, I then eat very unhealthily, just to satisfy myself, so I will ensure I have healthy snacks available so I don’t let myself get too hungry
When it is time for lunch or dinner I eat because I am conditioned to eat 3 meals a day, now I will only eat when I am hungry regardless of the time.
When I see food I like, I will eat it just because it is there. Now I will refuse it if I am not hungry, or just have a tiny portion, just to taste it.
When I go for dinner I eat what sounds delicious rather than what is healthy. Now I will make a healthy choice from the menu.
When I go for dinner I finish the entire meal as it taste delicious even though I am totally full. Now I will stop eating when I am full and take the rest for takeaway.
When I go for dinner, I often order way more than I can eat as I feel hungry when I am ordering and then I eat it regardless of whether I am hungry. Now I will not over order rather just choosing what I know I can finish.
I will measure my progress by assessing how well I am keeping to my goals.
I will also measure my body fat % which is starting off at 26%
I will analyse the feel and fit of my clothes (they are all feeling a bit tight right now)
Make any necessary adjustments based on my learning
I will identify the occasions when I am not following what I have set out to do and make a plan of how to adjust what I am doing to stick to my goals.
It sounds crazy as it is so simple but the 2 big game changers for me are:
1) Only eat when you’re hungry
2) Stop eating when you’re full.
I’ve realized I am constantly eating because I fancy food, not because I am hungry. I think I have even lost the ability to know what being hungry feels like. It can be hard to decide whether you are really hungry or whether you just want to eat something or you are thirsty. This is what I am going to work hard to tackle.
I’m not looking at doing a fad diet, or depriving myself of food, but changing the habit to only eat when I’m hungry. It’s about getting used to the discipline of only eating when I need food. It’s differentiating between hunger, thirst, boredom, and desire.
If you are also practicing healthy eating I’d love to hear any tips you have and how you’re getting on.
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