Whether it’s a weight-loss goal, a desire to get back on on track or take our health to the next level, we will all find ourselves starting a new diet at one time or another. But with so many options and conflicting information, how do you know if the way you’re eating and exercising is right for you? Is this just be a fad or could this actually fit your lifestyle?
Before you jump headfirst into a new way of eating/movement, here are 4 questions you must ask yourself before starting a diet:
1. Is this diet sustainable?
Sure we can adopt a particular diet or workout for a short period of time, but what we are ultimately looking for is a way of eating and moving that we can maintain as a lifestyle. So before you swear off entire food groups, start counting the nutritional info of every morsel of food you eat, or sign-up for the latest no pain, no gain workout, ask yourself if you can truly see yourself doing this long-term.
Gravitate to a way of eating that allows for flexibility, promotes health, not just weight-loss, is based on whole, real foods, and a way of moving your body that is both challenging and FUN, fitting both your personality and lifestyle. Speaking of which…
2. What is your current lifestyle and health history?
Are you a new mom? Trying to get pregnant? Have you recently moved, gone back to school, or gone through a major life transition? Have you dealt with an eating disorder in the past? Are you in perfect health…or struggling with your digestion, thyroid, or any other major health conditions? In order to know if a way of eating/moving is right for you, you have to consider what is currently happening in your life and in your body, as well as your personal health history.
What might make your best friend feel like a million bucks could set you back from your unique health/wellness goals or bring back some old, unwanted ways of relating to your body and food? So take a moment to take stock of what is happening in your world and with your health. What would you want your new food and movement plan to move you towards besides weight-loss?
Is your expectation realistic considering what your current lifestyle/health challenges might be? For example, a 5 am boot-camp class isn’t going to be the best choice for someone who is struggling with adrenal fatigue, a food app might reignite some old, dangerous ways of relating to food for someone who has struggled with disordered eating, and going low-carb isn’t going to be the healthiest fit for a woman who is breastfeeding.
Remember, the right plan will propel you closer to your goals while taking into account who you are as an individual, where you want to go, what’s happening now, and where you are coming from.
3. Is it making your life BIGGER or smaller?
Is your new diet making you fearful of traveling, dining out, or eating without consulting your food app? Are you starting to alienate yourself from your friends/family because of your workouts/way of eating and do you mentally beat yourself up if you miss a workout or don’t eat “perfectly”?
If so, your way of eating/moving is making your life smaller, not bigger. While we want to honor the commitments we have made to ourselves via our food and movement choices, living in fear and limiting our experiences to connect with others and live a full life is a direct opposite of what a healthy eating and movement plan should be doing.
The purpose of your plan should be to create the strength, energy, and health for you to live a life full of adventure, connection, and joy, not one where you are in fear of food or out-of-the-ordinary experiences.
It’s a big world out there…use food and movement as tools to help you enjoy and experience all it has to offer!
4. Is it coming from a place of love?
The intention behind why you do anything will tell you how the story will end. So if you are adopting a way of eating or moving your body that comes from a place of self-loathing, body hate, or to gain love/acceptance, the reality is you will still feel those feelings once you get to your “goal”. I mean it. You can’t diet and punish your way into self-love. Love begets more love…but self-hate begets more self-hate as well.
Before you take one more step in your diet or workout plan, check in and see what your motivation or inspiration is behind it, where it’s coming from. Keep in mind that motivation is often connected to a short-term goal, while inspiration comes from something deeper, truer, more lasting. For example, an upcoming vacation can provide motivation to lose weight (a short-term goal) while wanting to be at a healthy weight so you can move freely in your body and have the health/stamina to live out your life purpose is a goal that comes from inspiration (a long-term goal).
Aim for inspiration. Adopt a way of eating and moving that comes from loving yourself and wanting to do right by yourself, from wanting to offer yourself every tool to make your life better and richer because you know you deserve it. From there, you will begin to make changes from an inspired and healthy place and you will be doing it for YOU, the person who’s love, health, and acceptance truly matters!