How can I really improve my life beyond diet fads?

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3 January
10:22
3 January
10:42

Before beginning another diet, take a moment to consider your mindset in approaching change. If your driver is a 'need' to change in order to accept yourself, this is a fear-based conditional-love mindset, and will be setting you up for failure.

Converting "I need to be thinner or healthier and/or fixed to be acceptable” to a sense of curiosity and discovery about who you are and what you need will relieve the pressure and give you breathing space to actually discover what changes you would like to make.

"Eat until you’re 80% full. Always leave at least a bite of food on your plate. This will help you listen to your body and make you more aware of the signs of fullness"

Most of us end up getting stuck in behaviours that don’t serve us, as we haven’t risked going out on a limb to find out what makes us happy. Things we really like don’t make us feel flat, ashamed or self critical – in fact they leave us feeling balanced, renewed and happy. It is often just about discovering those things, or acknowledging their significance.

Take this discovery approach to food. Rather than reading another diet book or throwing yourself into the latest lifestyle, discover new foods and ways to cook them.

Bringing more mindfulness and presence to the way that you eat is also transformative. Slow down around food: always eat sitting down, chew each mouthful 20 times so your brain has plenty of time to acknowledge you are full; eat while listening to calming music or the radio rather than visual stimuli such as TV or the laptop. And if you have a family, partner or housemates, sit down to a meal with them and make eating time into a peaceful zone instead of a rushed one.

"Take the curiosity approach to fitness instead of just showing up to the gym out of obligation. Choosing a form of exercise you believe in will mean that you actually enjoy spending time being physical."

Eat until you’re 80% full; always leave at least a bite of food on your plate. This will help you listen to your body and make you more aware of the signs of fullness. Often we mistake the signal for thirst as a sign for hunger, so try drinking more water and herbal teas instead of going in for seconds at dinner. This will help flush out toxins, decrease hunger and give you better skin too!

Similarly, take the curiosity approach to fitness instead of just showing up to the gym out of obligation. Choosing a form of exercise you believe in will mean that you actually enjoy spending time being physical and connecting with your body. Combine it with what you need more of in your life – solitude or being with others; fast-paced or more stillness. This can then help you to discover what you really like and what suits you – perhaps a morning Tai Chi class via Youtube, or meditation with other people. Using the desire for exercise as an excuse to connect with life and yourself in new ways will mean that you integrate it instead of it being a fad.

Keeping your mind stimulated and active as well as knowing how and when to switch off is a great way to look after yourself. Again, listen to what you need here. Do you have a tendency to spend lots of time on the phone and talking to people? If so, you probably need to strengthen your capacity for calm and rest instead of adding more stimulation.

"Too much time online can damage your immune system, cause sleep issues and lead to depression and loneliness."

Meditation apps such as Insight Timer offer free meditations and inspirational talks to expand your mind and bring in mindfulness when you are on the go. Discovering new books and podcasts will keep you feeling inspired and alive – if you don’t know where to start, google '50 best podcasts' and give yourself permission to explore.

Too much time online can damage your immune system, cause sleep issues and lead to depression and loneliness. So instead of surfing the net and social media as your default behaviour when you’re bored or at a loose end, switch off and read a book or connect with actual people. And do a friend review, so you can focus on nourishing the friendships that need extra attention. Make plans to spend time together now and later in the year, so these become focal points for your social calendar, making you feel more positive about the upcoming months.

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