The other night I was sitting down eating a salad with homemade dressing before I went to the gym and it hit me just how much my life has changed over the past few months. I have always enjoyed cooking and had an interest in nutrition and health, but I have also had my fair share of hiccups and a couple of months ago, the idea of even making my own salad dressing seemed overwhelming to me.
Thinking of all of these changes that I have made recently made me realize that despite being overwhelmed initially, the transition has felt relatively smooth and sustainable, so I thought I would write a post on some things to keep in mind when making a big lifestyle change. If you find yourself in a similar situation as I was, I recommend the following things to keep in mind to try and make the transition to your new lifestyle as smooth as possible.
Do your research. Before I made any concrete plans of what my diet and lifestyle would look like, I did a lot of research. I read about different approaches to healing my body and my relationship with food; I read about the timelines associated with each approach; I read about other people’s experiences; cooking prep-time etc. The point here is that I read a lot and it gave me a fairly good idea of what to expect when I took the plunge. This really helped me feel mentally prepared to commit to making the changes.
Make a plan. I am not just talking about an overarching plan (although you need that too); I am talking about a plan for each week. I use an agenda and plan out my workouts and most of my meals for the week and it helps keep me on track.
Be flexible. I know this seems kind of counterintuitive since I just told you to make a plan, but even with a plan, things will change and you will have to go with the flow in order to be successful and fulfilled with your new lifestyle, which brings me to my next point…
Have a back up. Plan for your pitfalls. If you’ve tried to make a lifestyle change in the past and you didn’t maintain it, what happened? For me, one of my pitfalls is if I let myself get too hungry I will eat anything (embarrassing, but true), so my backup is a quick meal that I know can be done in no time (like a jam-packed salad).
Keep your fridge stocked. This is sort-of implied in the tip above, but it deserves it’s own paragraph. Trust me, being hungry and finding that there’s nothing in your pantry or fridge that will satisfy you is a HUGE bummer and can limit your chances of sustaining your new lifestyle.
Be willing to try new things and take baby steps. As part of my healing journey, I decided to eliminate processed foods, and this has meant that even something as simple as salad dressing, or granola bars, have to be made from scratch. Two months ago I felt so overwhelmed by the idea of making things from scratch, but it’s not nearly as hard as I thought. In fact, it’s been fun coming up with my own recipes.
Show yourself some compassion. I already talked a lot about learning to love yourself, and self-compassion goes hand-in-hand. When you decide to make a lifestyle change, it’s important to recognize the extent of the change you are making. It is a journey, and you need to be patient. When I decided to make all of these changes, I knew it would be drastic, and I decided that I would start with my relationship with food, and once I felt strong enough I would reintroduce fitness back into my routine. I was patient with myself, and took my time adjusting to my new routines, and as a result, I now feel completely at-home in my lifestyle.
If you are facing some big lifestyle changes, I hope you can learn from some of my lessons and make lasting, fulfilling changes in your life. And, if you find yourself needing a little bit of extra support, you can always find it here.
Until next time,