How about giving yourself the gift of health and nutrition this Christmas! It doesn’t matter whether you start small or large, the gift is adopting an attitude of being ready to commit to making some lifestyle changes. I realize that’s not as easy as it sounds and many people believe they just don’t have the willpower to make lasting changes. The first step then is in changing this belief. According to the American Psychological Association, willpower is being able to resist temptations short-term towards meeting a longer term goal. That’s good news because it doesn’t mean you have to change all your unhealthy nutrition and health habits at once. It means you can take it one step at a time and acknowledge each small step. In fact it is counterproductive to try to change too much at once and just a setup for failure. Roy Baumeister, social psychologist and author of Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength, reported finding from laboratory testing that once someone uses their willpower, they don’t have enough to use it again and again. It has to be built back up. So let’s say for example you typically grab a candy bar in the afternoon to get an energy boost. Make your first goal to grab a healthier bar or snack instead. Personally I like this snack bar with sprouted grains, greens, and all the great nutrition of bluegreen algae. Best of all it tastes great so I don’t feel deprived. Just work on changing that one habit until you are successful at it, then you can move on and pick the next goal.
Sometimes though you may be so stressed that you end up with the candy bar after all, but tomorrow is another day to try again. Not beating yourself up when you do give in to temptation is another gift you can give yourself this Christmas. Most of us are so much harder on ourselves and expect more from ourselves than anyone else. Ask yourself if would you berate someone else for ending up with the candy bar and give yourself the same break you’d give them. It turns out that willpower is just like our muscles. You have to exercise it for it to get strong and taking small steps towards small goals increases your chances of success. The more success you have at meeting those small goals, the stronger your willpower becomes. Remember this the next time you want to put yourself down and believe you have failed at your goal. You are just beginning to exercise that willpower and like anything else in life it takes practice to get good at something. Also look for ways to make your goal easier. For example, don’t keep junk food in the house, always take a shopping list to the store and commit to only buying what is on the list, or get an exercise buddy and set a time and place to meet for a walk or exercise class.
Picking Out Your Gift
Giving yourself the gift of health and nutrition is a broad topic. Look at all your habits and ask yourself “What will you give up and what will you gain?”. What nutrition or health goal is the highest priority for you? Do you have a specific condition or health issue you want to work on or just want to lose a few pounds in general? Then listen to the language you use around that goal. According to Amy Johnson, PhD, a Chicago psychologist, if you are saying “I can’t” about a goal, it really means you don’t want to. We’ll find all sorts of excuses to get out of things that we really don’t want to do and it makes it easier to not see it as a failure if we act like we don’t have a choice in the matter. The problem with that is it may get us out of something for the moment, but in the long run it brings up empowerment issues. The truth is we always have a choice. Johnson suggests saying “I don’t want to” instead as that is a more empowering statement and acknowledges that we do have choice. If you have picked a goal that you find you don’t really want to change, then move on and pick another one. You can always come back to that first goal later when perhaps your attitude towards it changes.
It may be that you’ll need to do some work around your perceptions and attitudes before you are able to get started on your health and nutrition goals. For example, if you are the type of person that is always berating yourself, putting yourself down, and being extra hard and unforgiving of yourself, you may need to do some work around those attitudes before you can be successful at other types of goals. Panache Desai, a spiritual teacher and author of Discovering Your Soul Signature: A 33-Day Path to Purpose, Passion, & Joy, reminds us that placing negative judgments on our emotions blocks our energy flow since emotions are energy designed to flow through the body. You can unblock that stuck energy by finding self-acceptance. He suggests getting in the habit of being aware when you get “down” on yourself, consciously stopping and breathing until those feelings pass. Being around positive people will also increase your energy flow while being around negative people is an energy drain. It may be that your first goal of the new year is to change the people you spend the most time around.
Even if all you do this year is make one small change in your attitude, perceptions or a health or nutrition goal, it’s a start. No matter how busy and hectic your life is, there is always room for one small change. And of course by Universal Law, one small change in the present creates a bigger change in the future. If you don’t think you can take the time to exercise, walk in place while folding the laundry or if you can’t resist eating that second slice of pie, only buy pie that you can get by the slice so there is no second piece. Pre-packaged whole food supplements are another easy, convenient way to help fill in nutritional gaps in your diet. You can grab a packet of supplements for on the run or when traveling such as this one with two types of AFA bluegreen algae, probiotics and enzymes or this one with all that and the nutritional power of antioxidants, mushrooms, and a variety of algae.
Spend some time before the new year starts thinking about your own habits and attitudes. Then pick what is a priority for you to set as a goal and make a plan for the small steps you can use to accomplish it. Taking that first step towards a healthier lifestyle will be the best gift you ever give yourself.
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