A well-worn path doesn't mean that you're on the right track.
Phil Connors is an arrogant weatherman sent out to cover the annual Groundhog Day event. Little did he know, his life was about to take an unexpected turn. Phil eventually discovers that he is in a continuous time loop, repeating the same day over and over.
At first, Phil takes advantage of this by indulging himself in pleasures such as: stealing money, seducing women, getting drunk with no repercussions, and learning all the town’s secrets.
Hold up, this name and story sound familiar.
That’s because it is.
In 1993, Phil Connors played by Bill Murray is introduced to us in the movie Groundhog Day. Besides teaching us valuable life lessons, this movie shares valuable nutritional lessons we still suffer with currently.
We live in a society where people spend plenty of money on fad diets, countless workout programs, and supplements promising us quick results.
Unfortunately, more information and money hasn’t saved our society from becoming more obese. In fact, there’s a recent research study that concluded that only 2.7 percent of Americans live a healthy lifestyle. A basic healthy lifestyle consists of moderate exercising, a good diet, not smoking, and having a recommended body fat percentage.
Phil's problems are getting out of a rut, finding meaning and fulfillment, and instituting change. Weight-loss seeking enthusiasts problems are escaping from a dietary rut, making fitness and life co-exist, and creating lasting change.
While we’re not trapped in a time loop like Phil, many of us are trapped in our daily routines by our conditioning. These routines and current conditioning are the reason many of us fail with our diets, despite the plethora of knowledge available.
Many of us are on auto-pilot and never take the time to slow down and assess what’s working and what isn’t within our lives. While many people seeking weight-loss have the right intentions, their motives and methods are fleeting. The typical dieting cycle looks like this:
- Start a diet full of motivation supplied by adrenaline and the novelty of starting something new (albeit often too extreme and not tailored to your personal lifestyle)
- They start to feel restricted and deprived once motivation and the novelty of this diet wears off
- The hunger games commence (i.e. discomforting and annoying cravings from being restrictive)
- They give into these temptations
- They're flooded with guilt and shame
- They quit
- Months later, they feel a spark of inspiration and start back at one
Day in and day out, year in and year out, many people rinse and repeat this cycle. This is the Groundhog Day effect people experience with dieting. Until you slow down and realize that all your thoughts, actions, and approaches determine your results, you’re going to experience the same result over and over.
To stop chronic dieting, you must begin to pay attention to the outcomes of your decisions, how your thought patterns and preconditioned responses determine the majority of the actions and behaviors you take on a daily basis.
Once you have this awareness, now you can break the chains and free yourself from this continuous cycle because you can start to recognize what’s working for you, your fears, and other preexisting beliefs you hold.
As you embark on this freeing journey, use these six strategies to head toward a path of lasting success by focusing on your health and longevity and stop chronic dieting.
1.Reframe your approach to goal setting
Basing your worth and judging if your dietary program is working solely on the number on the scale is setting yourself up for a potential disaster. The scale isn’t the best indicator of progress at times due to water weight from eating certain foods along with other hormonal fluctuations not being accounted for.
Instead of relying on superficial metrics and numbers, set positive and realistic goals that promote positive outcomes. Base your goals on behavioral and action oriented metrics, not specific outcomes. In other words, become process oriented instead of result oriented.
“I’m going to get healthier”, “start working out”, and “lose some weight” aren’t good examples of setting concise, positive, and measurable goals.
Great examples would be reducing your consumption of sodas, decreasing your sugar intake, committing to the gym four times a week, eating vegetables with each meal, walking for 30 minutes daily, and eating one portion of protein with each meal.
2.Don’t trap yourself inside the box of sameness
What makes us special as humans are that as similar as we may seem, there are little intricacies that make each of us unique individuals.
Health and nutrition aren't any different.
Sure, some principles such as eating plenty of vegetables and avoiding processed foods apply to each of us. But, the methods to go about eating those vegetables and healthy foods can be accomplished in many forms.
Find what suits you personally and meshes seamlessly with your goals while not requiring a complete overhaul of your daily life.
There are many different avenues to the destination, but it’s up to you to discover and decide on which pathway works for you.
3.Let your body guide you
In today’s society, we’re terrible listeners. We’re mostly focused on ourselves and what we’re going to say next. So it’s no surprise that most people aren’t good at listening to their body and making adjustments.
You can have the best diet and exercise plan on paper, but at the end of the day, it’s not guaranteed to work exactly as planned. At the end of the day, predicting calories and macronutrients is mostly theory and provides a good starting point. While tracking your macros and determining an estimated calorie number is beneficial, the best indicator is always going to be your body.
Your body is constantly whispering and trying to guide you, but you have to listen and pay attention.
Are you noticing those intense hunger pangs or just writing them off as part of the normal process of dieting? Are you noticing your daily energy levels or just accepting that walking around cranky and tired is part of the dieting process? Are you paying attention to your body and those seemingly small aches and pains or just writing them off as an intense workout?
These are just a few examples of your body communicating with you.
An intelligent and sustainable diet doesn’t mean you have to starve or function day-to-day with low energy. An intelligent and sustainable diet provides enough macro and micronutrients that help repair your body against nagging joint pains and other common issues.
Let go of the mentality that you have to suffer while dieting and start paying attention to the feedback your body provides.
4.Celebrate little wins
Us humans often times set ambitious goals that are daunting and placed under unrealistic timelines.
When it comes to our goals, we need to feel as if we’re making progress. But, focusing on the end goal often leaves us feeling as if we’re not making progress due to the scope of the goal.
However, this is a mute point when you start to reframe how you view success. Someone may want to lose 20lbs, but why delay celebrating until you reach 20lbs?
To increase your chances of succeeding, start setting micro-goals. These micro goals provide opportunities for little wins, which serve as your gasoline to continue along your fitness journey. If 20lbs is your main goal, why not celebrate at 3—every little bit counts.
When you focus on the little wins, you give awareness to the fact that you’re making positive changes within your life; thus guaranteeing momentum to continue along.
5.Embrace and commit to the long term
Whether it’s committing to a relationship or committing to a work assignment—us humans have trouble committing.
Let’s face it, commitment is scary because this forces us to leave our familiar conditions.
The same thing happens once we commit to truly changing the way we’re eating.
Fad diets, body resets, and cleanses will work in the short term. Sure, you’re going to lose some weight and start to feel good about yourself. But once you stop these types of programs, your weight is most likely going to return with no mercy.
People experience a rebound weight effect over the long term because they haven’t developed the proper habits and behaviors needed over the long-haul.
Fad diets and other short-term gimmicks place you in a state of temporary change. Short term diets allow you to avoid committing to new behaviors over the long-haul while adopting less than stellar behaviors and relationships with foods.
These short term diets tend to outcast one particular food group or they’re loaded with rules that leave you with a distorted perception toward healthy eating.
It’s a 7-day-24-hour affair that requires a commitment to the long term in order to truly experience lasting change instead of a mere illusion.
6.Never forget this: health goes beyond physical
It takes a lot more than eating baked chicken, steamed veggies, sweet potatoes, and a salad to achieve optimal health. Optimal health while maximizing your longevity requires a focus on your four pillars of fitness: emotional, spiritual, mental, and physical.
Often times, eating healthy is only preached as an avenue to get abs, tone our arms, and tighten up our glutes. Though it’s not nearly as sexy to focus on, our internal world is far more important than our external world.
What good is a lean athletic looking body if it’s internally comparable to a sickly and disease ridden 80-year-old’s body (no disrespect to senior citizens)?
Despite what the media and Instagram try to shove down our throats, fitness isn’t just a game consisting of superficial metrics and rigid rules.
Forcing yourself to eat bland and tasteless foods in the name of achieving an almighty six-pack isn’t worth it. Following a restrictive diet that doesn’t fit your particular lifestyle isn’t your only option.
Even though you may be eating healthy foods on this restricting plan, you’re simultaneously creating unnecessary stress on your internal world. Besides the unnecessary stress compounding and throwing some hormones off balance, you’re not going to be happy with this plan.
Healthy eating should be a nutritional choose your own adventure designed to build you up physically, nourish your soul with flavoring foods, emotionally satisfy your needs, and mentally allow you to thrive in life.
Diet is important, but remember you only get one body (treat it with love)
Sometimes when left unaddressed, our pursuit of a healthier body and lifestyle often becomes our biggest detriment.
When unaddressed, we view and only see our bodies for their imperfections, not for their gifts and unique abilities. The more you accept your body and treat it with love, the more motivated you become and easier it is to reach your goals.
In a hyper-sexualized world where looks are placed at a premium, keeping the big picture in mind is essential. When you start to focus on your energy, overall wellness, happiness, peace and approach your nutrition with love instead of approaching with an unhealthy obsession toward losing weight, your goals and life will level up (as well as your physique).
Yes, you may feel ashamed of how you look or feel you need to lose fifteen pounds. But remember, it’s not the size of your muscles nor how much you weigh that determines your worth as a person, your beauty, or your value to the world.
Focus on your general well-being and living the good life. The weight and body that you desire will follow suit (I promise).