My doctor recommanded me to get moving on a plan to improve my health and eating habits. Not sure how or where to start. Can you help me, Chef Marie?
Thank you, Nathan, for your great question. I will do my best to help you and congratulate you on taking the first step. That said, this is rather challenging to answer in a short way and without knowing your personal situation. Rather than suggesting what to do, I would like you to think of the 3 major categories I always explore first with a new client. Once those 3 points are settled, nutrition can come next and that needs to be personalized. What we will explore here can be generalized for most people.
Under each category, you will see questions. Answer them the best way you can with your top 3 to 5 answers max. I gave you example of answers, just as a guide. Answering those questions will be helpful to you, as it will allow you to understand some of your profound needs and give you clues of what will be helpful to you. It will also allow you to get moving on a plan that you will be building yourself. Doing so brings awareness and encourage self responsability. I have seen huge results from such plan over the years and consider it the first step towards positive changes. Don’t stress it, just have fun with it and take your time. So here we go!
WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS?
Give some serious thoughts why you want to do this: Be honest with yourself.
Write down your deepest reasons. Such list will be your reminder, when needed. Ex. To improve my health - To fit in a toxido for my daughter's wedding next year - To feel more energize with the kids - To reduce my chances of getting diabetes.
WILL YOUR LIFESTYLE BE HELPFUL OR DO YOU NEED TO MAKE SOME ADJUSTMENTS?
Write down any adjustments you have to make: Ex. Sit less in front of the television and computer - Exercise more - Order one alcoholic drink at the bar instead of 2 or 3 when going out with friends - Order a smaller popcorn at the theater and without butter - Eat less out and more in.
WHAT PLAN ARE WILLING TO PUT IN PLACE AND FOLLOW?
Write down your short and long goal: Ex. Lose 5 lbs. first then another 5 lbs., making it 10 lbs. my long goal. Reduce my blood pressure and get off my med.
Write down your 2 or 3 primordial strategies to improve your diet: Ex. Reduce my sugar in-take, eat more vegetables and drink more water.
Write down a few strategies and ideas that will be useful when you get discouraged or when facing setback: Ex. Count till 20 before going to the fridge or food storage area – Ask myself if I really want or need the food I am contemplating to eat – Could I make a better healthier food choice? - How do I feel at the present time? – Remind myself to read the list I made of the reasons I started doing this.
Write down your biggest triggers: Ex. I eat too many snack when I get stressed at work - I eat when I feel bored and lonely - I get lazy when it comes to exercise – I go for ice cream after a fight with my wife.
Let everyone around you know and ask for their support. Remind them you want (not trying) to succeed and need their help. Ask them how they feel they could help you on doing so. Write a list and give them a copy, if they wish. It is amazing what can happen when everyone is on board!
What exercise do you intend to do? How long and how often? Ex. Walking for an hour and half every day - Play basketball half an hour, 3 times a week - Bike to work, 5 days a week - Play soccer with the kids on week-end.
A side note. Yes, exercise is a must, I call nutrition and exercise the “friendly twins”, as they are truly the 2 keys aspect of losing and maintaining a healthy weight. Exercise has a positive effect on our mood, eating habits and lifestyle as well. We can notice the energy we get through exercise or not, depending on what we ate, drink, our mood, stress level and so on. Remind yourself to be conscious of both (nutrition and exercise) on daily basis.
Finally, make a contract with yourself and establish a support system: Resume the above on computer and print on paper. Date it and sign it. Get a couple of friends or family members on board and have them sign the contract too. I recommend one person at work and one at home. Those persons are your support system and “cheerleaders” when needed. Treat them the best way you can, especially when they will kindly remind you of our goals. Celebrate the success together and always remember, they love you and care for you. Place it in front of you in the kitchen, by your office, computer and wherever you feel it needs to be to keep you focus on your mission!
Hope this helps to get you on board of your healthy train, Nathan. Please feel free to contact me, if I can be of any further assistance. Feel free to review my personal coaching services through www.chefmarie.com or www.coachingrealm.com