There’s often an “all-or-nothing” mindset that comes with establishing a health and fitness routine.
Many people think that to live a healthier lifestyle they have to jump in with both feet and completely eliminate unhealthy habits. In reality, this is pretty unsustainable.
Not to mention, any small positive change can improve your health — so why put yourself through the torture of an “all-or-nothing” mentality when taking gradual steps can result in steady progress?
This is especially important to keep in mind over the holidays when it’s even harder to stick to a routine and we are surrounded by temptations.
I’ve created a three-step plan to help you ditch this attitude and shift your mindset. These tips will help you develop a much more sustainable approach to making your health a priority, especially during the holidays.
Focus on a few small changes and then enjoy the season
Living an “all work no play” lifestyle leads to burnout. While it’s important to prioritise your physical health, it’s also important to do what makes you happy.
That means still enjoying the foods you love — in moderation, of course! Don’t cut out the coffee that you enjoy in the morning, the treat you look forward to for dessert or your mum’s famous holiday cookies. Just try to keep a healthy balance.
I was working with one of my weight-loss clients on her emotional eating.
We simply focused on adding in healthy foods, like proteins, fruits and vegetables, and she noticed that the emotional eating subsided.
Imagine how she would have felt if instead, we set a rule that she could not have any comfort food at all? The deprivation would almost certainly lead her to binge and then feel guilty. This is a prime example of how focusing on small, positive changes — and ditching the “all-or-nothing” mentality — can have a huge impact.
Cultivate positive self-talk — and know that it takes practice
We are often our own worst critic and it’s even more common to get down on yourself when you set strict rules and feel like you are failing at following them.
That’s why cultivating positive self-talk is a process that takes more than just a few days of practice, especially if you fall victim to the “all-or-nothing” mentality.
While it can be difficult at first, it starts to get easier the more you practice it. And it’s worth the effort: Positive self-talk will allow you to listen to your body, adjust your plans and stay committed to yourself and your goals.
When you catch yourself playing the comparison game or cutting yourself down with self-criticism, have some mantras ready to go to replace the negative thoughts with positive ones.
One thing that I encourage my clients to do is to place a sticky note on their mirror in their bathroom with one word that makes them feel empowered.
It could be “strong” or “positive” or even “funny” — whatever word speaks to you and helps you embrace a positive characteristic about yourself. This is a great first step to getting out of negative thinking patterns and showing yourself some grace.
Stephanie Mansour is contributing health and fitness writer for TODAY. She is a certified personal trainer, yoga and Pilates instructor and weight-loss coach for women.
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