Does trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle ever feel stressful or cause you to feel guilty? If you’re saying yes, then it’s no wonder why you end up falling off track and have a hard time getting back on. Let’s face it. Guilt and stress squeeze the fun out of anything. And if you’re not having fun doing something that’s your choice to do, then why would you want to do it?
I don’t like seeing clients, friends and family all struggle. So I’ve given a lot of thought to what I do differently that makes it easy for me to stay on track. What I nailed down are 4 strategies that literally removed the stress and guilt out of the equation. Once these two downers were gone, I started to actually enjoy the benefits that following a healthy lifestyle brings. It became fun! And once I started having fun, honoring my commitment became easy.
Are you ready to get on track for good and actually enjoy the ride? Read on!
#1: Set Personal Pleasure Indicators
What is a pleasure indicator? It’s a set point that you establish by listening to your body and learning what nourishes you, rather than drains you. It’s serves as a guide, or internal limit, you set to keep you feeling in control, successful and honored so you stay in the flow.
Growing up, I didn’t set any pleasure indicators. There were times I’d eat until I felt like I could literally burst. I remember leaving my favorite Mexican restaurant as a young adult with painful little tingling sensations running from one side of my belly to the other because my belly was so full.
As I got older and MUCH wiser, I started to listen more intently to the feeling in my stomach between fullness and pain. I realized that there was a definite line that would lead me from feeling happy and satisfied to sluggish and guilty when crossed. So I consciously created a pleasure indicator to keep myself from overeating.
My portion-control pleasure indicator (PPI) serves as a guide to keep me in a comfortable, guilt-free zone.
But that’s not the only benefit I’ve gained!
My portion control PPI helped me realize that I can feel satisfied with less. When I’m eating something particularly delightful and feel myself getting close to my pleasure indicator, I intentionally slow down and mindfully savor my last few bites.
Interesting tidbit: There’s actually science that shows that the first bite of a food is the most satisfying, and that every bite after that progressively declines in taste satisfaction.
Implementing this strategy is particularly helpful if you tend to emotionally or mindlessly eat and struggle to maintain a comfortable weight. Over time, when I reached for food for comfort or mindlessly ate something like popcorn during a movie, it was as though a little bell would go off in my head to signal, “That’s enough. I’m good.”
I have pleasure indicators with both meditation and exercise as well. I know that if I go longer than 3 days without either one of them, I feel a difference in my mood and energy. So I set a pleasure indicator that I cannot go longer than three days without either one. Even if I’m traveling, my kids are home sick from school, or some other obstacle comes up that throws me off my routine, I honor my pleasure indicator and and make the time. It may only be 5-10 minutes of exercise or a 1-5 minutes meditation, but doing even a little gives me an attitude of success and makes it easier to stay on track.
Tip! You can create pleasure indicators for portion control, snacking, exercise, drinking water, meditation, affirmations, sleep, journaling, writing, etc.
#2: Focus On How You Want To Feel!
The best thing about pleasure indicators is that you’re in complete control of them! Nobody else can set them but you. Listening to your body is the key to creating them. But how do you keep your commitment to honor them?
First, get crystal clear on how you want to feel (instead of look) and use this to guide your choices throughout the day.
Let’s face it. We all, including me, want to both look and feel our best. But focusing on how we want to look will only keep us motivated for so long. It really only serves as a means to getting us what we really want, which is to feel a certain way, right?
When we make choices from a place of love and respect for the bodies that allow us to experience our lives, it’s easier to connect to how we ultimately want to feel. For me, I want to feel joyful, connected to my true spirit, deeply connected with my family, inspired and inspiring! When I remind myself of that, it’s becomes easy for me to make choices that support me to feel this way because these feelings are unchanging. They are why I get up in the morning. So I use these feelings as my compass when I make choices in my lifestyle … and life!
What about you? What do you ultimately want to feel that making love-motivated choices would support? Please share in the comments below!
Need help clarifying what your these feelings are for you? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
#3: Rather Than Beat Yourself Up, Make It Up!
The reality is that there will be times when you teeter over your pleasure indicator. But if you’ve taken the initiative to listen to your body and establish boundaries, then you’ve already set yourself up for a quick rebound. And keep in mind, you have the power to choose how you will respond!
Rather than beat yourself up, make it up. Living a healthy lifestyle is a way of life, a journey. That means that you have lots of time and opportunities to learn what works and doesn’t work for you and to correct any slip-ups. And I want to share two secrets that make this strategy particularly effective.
One, be mindful of your mental talk around a slip-up!
Call it what it is — just a slip-up, a learning opportunity that can be easily corrected, as opposed to using a derogatory term like screw up that can lead to a self-defeated frame of mind.
Two, make it up at your earliest opportunity possible!
For example, if you eat beyond your pleasure indicator at dinner, make dinner the last time you eat the rest of that day. You could even exercise a little more intensely or a little longer the next day in addition to sticking to your other pleasure indicators throughout the next day. If you splurge on a cocktail and dessert with a friend at lunch, avoid all snacks the rest of the day and eat a super-nutritious dinner. If you miss your workout for a longer period than your set pleasure indicator, make it up by eating even cleaner than usual.
Implementing these strategies will help you develop an immediate rebound response that keeps you in the flow. And instead of guilt or stress, you’ll find yourself with on a self-affirming, “I got your back” attitude!
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