Look At The Bright Side
This one is way harder than it sounds, but it can also have a way bigger payoff than you think. “Often we focus on what we are doing wrong,” says Susan Albers, PsyD, a psychologist at the Cleveland Clinic and author of Eating Mindfully. “I ask my clients what they think they do well and then come up with ways to do it even better.”
So, if you tend to resolve to cut out carbs, only to beat yourself up for nibbling a baguette, look to the positive. Instead, if you love fruit, focus on being the best darn fruit eater out there. Already have an apple a day? Make it two. Or, add in a cup of raspberries and an orange just for fun. “Once you focus on improving what you already do, there’s a natural shift in other things positively, too,” says Albers. “You don’t have to, for example, worry about eliminating snacking on chips because by adding in more fruit, you end up doing that without even thinking about it. The positive behavior replaces some of the bad habits that you want to change without trying.”
The same theory applies to working on your fitness. Already love to go for a run but think you need to go twice as often or add Pilates into the mix, too? Wrong. “Your focus should be to run a few seconds faster per mile or 10 minutes longer than usual,” says Albers. Or take it to a super-simple form: Every meal, take one bite better. Take just one more forkful of salad over mac and cheese. And run one block better than the last. And then, you know what? Mission accomplished.
Remember: Slow And Steady Wins The Race
Albers compares healthy eating to a marathon. If, she says, you turn the idea of 26.1 miles into days, and pick one aspect of mindful eating for each one, you'll form a graduated approach. She advises patients to address unhealthy eating by being aware: Notice your pace. How quickly do you eat? And then for one entire day, slow down. To make sure you stick to the plan, eat with your non-dominant hand (lefties eat right; righties eat left) or put your fork down between bites. The next day, add another eat-healthy component like say, not eating while distracted. Turn off the T.V. and leave Instagram alone for a while. Big-picture payoff: if you eat slower, you’ll probably eat less, and eating fewer calories over time leads to weight loss (and better food choices down the line, too).
This little-by-little approach holds true for fitness as well. “People tend to take on an all-or-nothing approach,” says Geralyn Coopersmith, national director of the Equinox Fitness Training Institute in New York City. “Really, they should almost undercommit to something — say, work out every other day for an hour, not every day for two.” Go for whatever is ridiculously easy — walk 30 minutes three times a week or do some barely-moving yoga just to decompress. Once you have that down, you can reevaluate what you can do to make it more of a challenge, she says. Or even take on tiny triumphs like going to bed before midnight. (Download the Fig health and wellness app to factor these easy promises into your routine and get a virtual high-five every time you make them happen.)
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