Focusing on Health and Enjoying the Journey
Many people have a number on the scale that they would like to see. But for many this number may be unrealistic as well as unnecessary to reach in order to be healthy. It can be discouraging to be losing weight more slowly than you would like. However, by focusing on becoming healthier in general through developing new lifestyle habits, hopefully you can enjoy the journey more.
It’s not just about reaching your goal weight. It’s also about learning more about what works well for you and what doesn’t and being creative to help figure out how you can follow the Basic Principles more consistently. Hopefully you will learn to enjoy the process since the idea is to form new habits that you will stick with for life. When people focus on healthy habits for enjoyment and wellbeing rather than just for weight loss, they will be more likely to stick with the lifestyle changes.
Participating in the Health Plus Program is an opportunity to achieve better health! By focusing on the Basic Principles, you will become healthier. There are many measures of success besides weight loss.
Some of these include:
- Improved memory. There is some evidence that eating healthy foods high in certain vitamins and phytochemicals can help maintain cognition and brain health. This can help improve your performance at work. There is more research now that suggests our brain health is directly linked to our gut health. A healthy gut can lead to a more alert and productive brain.
- Gut Health. Eating foods high in fiber and low in added sugars will help good bacteria thrive in your GI tract and help you have more regular bowel habits. Click here to read the “Fiber: Essential for Health” Blog.
- More energy. Eating well helps our body maintain stable blood sugar levels which will help us feel energized and focused. When you eat poorly, it can cause digestive distress leading to more energy being used to digest the food you ate. This can lead you to feel tired. When your body is fueled properly with healthy foods, your body will run more efficiently, leading to you feeling better and having more energy. Over time you will likely start to crave healthier foods because you feel better when you eat them.
- Improved mood. Eating healthy food leads to hormonal balance which improves mood and reduces irritability. When your mind and body are nourished through healthy eating, you will be better able to deal with the stress in your life and feel more motivation.
- Decrease risk of chronic diseases like heart disease, stroke and diabetes. Three randomized clinical trials have shown that by improving what you eat, you can improve cardiovascular risk factors, such as high blood pressure, LDL (bad) cholesterol, and triglycerides, and improve your health. The participants in these studies ate vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low-fat dairy, nuts, and lean sources of protein daily.
- Clothes fit better. When you exercise regularly, it is possible to gain muscle and lose fat. The end result may not be weight loss, but rather increased muscle mass. Not only will your clothes fit better, but you will also burn more calories in general due to muscle being more metabolically active than fat.
- Exercise/Movement will become easier. When you exercise regularly, you will build and strengthen muscles and also improve your cardiovascular health. Every day activities like carrying groceries, taking care of kids/grandkids, and going up and down stairs will be easier.
- You are setting a good example for those around you: spouse, kids, other family members, friends. When they see you making healthy choices and being consistent with your new habits, you will hopefully be a good influence on their health!
Ideas to help you enjoy the journey more:
- Come up with a list of foods you enjoy eating that fit into the Basic Principles. Experiment with preparing the foods in different ways and/or try some new recipes on the Health Plus website/app or that you find online. Eating healthy foods does not need to be boring and you do not need to eat the same foods day in and day out.
- Try some new foods you haven’t eaten before. Be adventurous! Take a look at the Basic Principles again to see what foods are listed. Also take a look at the list of high fiber foods. There are likely some foods that you have never eaten before.
- Try out some different ways to move more. Have you always wanted to take a dance class (ballroom, tap, modern dance, etc.)? Sign up for a class at a local community college or recreation center. Or maybe you have wanted to try kayaking, tennis, racquetball, pickleball etc. Or wanted to join a gym and try out some of the group exercise classes to find some classes you enjoy.
- Focus on only a few small goals at a time. You may have heard the adage “Strive for Progress Not Perfection”. By focusing on a few small steps, you will take some of the pressure off yourself to follow all the Basic Principles perfectly. By taking the pressure off, you can enjoy the journey more and keep moving forward one step at a time.
- Take your monthly “Free Meal”. Sometimes patients will tell me that they aren’t taking their monthly “Free Meal” because they think it will cause them to get off track. This journey is not a sprint but rather a marathon and occasionally treating yourself to foods you wouldn’t eat on a daily basis is fine. In fact, this is something that you can and should look forward to and enjoy. Learning to eat “treat foods” in moderation is an important habit to develop so that you don’t feel deprived.
Keep in mind that the more you practice a healthy lifestyle, the more natural and almost effortless it will feel! And you will likely start to enjoy it!
Information compiled from: