Diets end, a lifestyle is forever. The easiest way to determine if you are on a diet or if you are living a healthy lifestyle is to ask yourself if you can maintain your way of eating for the rest of your life. If your diet is overly restrictive, it likely only will have short-term benefits. The key is to find a balance between what you enjoy and what supports your healthy lifestyle.
You build a healthy lifestyle by working on building healthy habits. Habits are the actions and activities that you perform on autopilot. Once making healthy choices, exercising, and daily movement becomes a part of your life, and you are no longer relying on willpower and motivation, you have achieved a healthy lifestyle. It’s not about being perfect, but being mindful and responsible when making choices.
The most significant shift happens when what you want to eat changes. Tell yourself: “I prefer to eat my packed lunch over to going out for fast food. I enjoy healthy foods over junk food. I make healthy choices most of the time because I want to — not because I think I need to lose or maintain my weight.” Tell yourself that, believe it and live it.
It’s not to say you probably don’t like pizza or French fries, but those indulgences are rare enough that they are special treats. If you eat junk food every day or every week, you don’t enjoy it as much as if you occasionally splurge.
EXERCISE FOR HEALTH, NOT WEIGHT LOSS
Do you exercise to lose weight? When you lose the weight, you might lose the motivation to keep at it. If you exercise for health and longevity, the mindset shift will help you stay motivated to exercise even when you don’t have weight to lose. Make movement a way of life, rather than a short-term strategy for weight loss.
Don’t focus on how many calories you burn each workout (fitness trackers, cardio machines, and even heart-rate monitors likely overestimate calories burned), focus on how strong you feel, how much your performance has improved over time, how exercise makes you feel both physically and emotionally. This mindset sets you up for a lifestyle of healthy movement.
If you only exercise for weight loss, you’re more likely to quit exercising when you achieve your goal or if you don’t see results as quickly as you hoped. Exercise and eat for health and longevity and allow fat loss to be a welcomed side effect. Consistent effort over a lifetime yields permanent results.