I see it all too often… busy women reaching a point of “I’m not happy with my diet and fitness habits” or “change is needed” and then defaulting to a “I should eat less” and/or “I should exercise more” as THE solution.
It’s no surprise many of us default to this way thinking though right?
We’ve being bombarded with messages of ‘Get your Summer body ready’, ‘shed those Christmas kilos’, ‘beat that middle age spread’, ‘get your pre-baby body back’ and ‘new year, new you’ for a looonnnggg time. On top of that, we’ve also been force fed fear based marketing tactics pushing restricting calories as the solution to our weight woes.
Truth be told, the vast majority of women who join SAY YES come with ‘eat less and move more’ in mind. But, we work with them to dive deeper and create more realistic, sustainable and enjoyable habits they can focus on instead. Habits that align with the nine key elements outlined in our SAY YES MODEL.
At this ‘new year new you’ time I year, I challenge you to SAY YES to focusing on one of the below 10 health behaviours RATHER THAN the energy-zapping, soul-destroying, diet-culture-promoting goal of “eat less move more”.
1. Eat three meals a day
Eating three meals a day means we can keep our energy levels topped up. This helps minimise cravings, the 3pm energy crash and raging hunger later in the day. Keeping fuelled without getting to empty can also help avoid poor food choices made while ‘hangry’ or overeating snacks while you decide what to cook for dinner.
- Breakfast: Toast toppers, Omlete Wrap, Baked Oats, Green Smoothie Pancakes
- Lunch: Pesto Pasta Salad, Hearty Salad, Simple Workday Lunches
- Dinner: Chicken Fajitas, Chickpea and Broccoli Curry, Quinoa Beef And Zucchini Burgers
2. Walk more
Evidence suggests walking is great for digestion, supports immune health, boosts mood and creativity, as well as increases your daily energy output.
- Park further away
- Take 5min walk breaks during your day
- Walk around the block before or after dinner
- Take the dog for a walk
- Organise to catch up with friends over a walk
- Head to the park with the pram or kids scooters on the weekend
3. Prioritise protein
Protein assists with managing hunger levels and muscle maintenance, plus helps lesson cravings. If you need a few examples of good protein sources, head here.
- Aim to have a protein source with most meals
- Add protein to your snacks
- Make use of nutrient dense protein smoothies for breakfast and/or snacks (To learn a little more about protein and protein powders check out this quick chat by our resident nutritionist Sarah Moore)
4. Eat more veggies
Eating vegetables are not only crucial to health and fitness but they are also a great way to increase the bulk and nutrient density of our meals. Yet, many people don’t actually eat enough!
- Add an extra serve of vegetables to recipes (ie. When we’re making Chicken Korma the recipe only says to add chickpeas, but we also add in some pumpkin, cauliflower and green beans)
- Add a vegetable to your breakfast or lunch
Eat one vegetarian meal a week
- Whenever you are cutting up vegetables for dinner, cut up a few extras as veggie sticks you can use for snacks
5. Eat without distraction
Multi tasking and eating is a recipe for disaster. Help switch you body from ‘fight or flight’ mode (stress) to rest and digest (relax) mode. This helps encourage blood flow back towards your inner organs, allows your mind to recognise a hunger signal, can help to reduce bloating and reflux and can help reduce over-eating or unhealthy dietary choices.
- Eat your lunch somewhere other than your desk
- Switch phones/devices to do not disturb mode
- No phones at the dinner table
- Sit at a table, not on your living room couch
6. Say Yes to better rest
Sleep is the foundation for the rest of your health. When it’s not going well – nothing else, really can. But when sleep starts to go right, thats where everything starts to come together. Find our more about how to improve your sleep habits here.
- Switch off devices before bed (ideally 60mins before bed) – or wear blue light blocking glasses when you are using your devices in the 60min before bed
- Designate 5-10mins of worry time before bed for you to clear out all the thoughts whirring through your mind. This could involve a journal and should NOT be done in your room. ?
- Pick a wind down activity you enjoy to add into your bedtime routine (ie. read a book, facial routine, sleepy time tea, light a candle)
- Cut down on caffeine – a cup or two in the morning isn’t going to hurt but having a pick me up mid afternoon can affect the quality of your sleep!
- Try a magnesium supplement to help you de-stress and sleep more soundly
7. Use visual reminders
Visual reminders are super handy for tired or busy brains (hey Mamma I’m looking at you). If it’s written down or can easily be seen, you are more likely to remember it and/or do it.
- Have your weekly meal plan stuck on your fridge OR keep a list of meals or easy snack options on your fridge
- Place a water bottle on your desk
- Leave things out on the bench at night to jolt your memory in the morning (ie. water bottle and fruit to remind yourself to drink more water and cut up some fruit to store in the fridge)
- Pre-book your workouts into your calendar and/or diary
8. Say yes to better snacks
Our resident nutritionist Sarah Moore has these tips for snacks:
- There’s no such thing as the perfect snack – you can literally snack on anything of your choosing.
- Snacks should ‘satisfy us’ not ’tease us’.
- I encourage you to think of them as ‘mini meals’ rather than ‘bite sized bits of food’.
- I recommend aiming for at least 2 food groups in each snack and trying to think of what your day is missing so far – often that’s veg and protein (ie. popcorn and nuts; yoghurt & granola; or celery & cheese: apple & peanut butter)
- Include snacks in your weekly meal plan and shopping list
- Keep a little list of potential snack options on your fridge (refer to tip #6).
- Keep a couple of snacks in your bag or in the car for emergency snacking. – ones that keep well like like whole fruit, nuts and popcorn.
9. Drink enough water
As little as 2% dehydration can affect your energy levels, leaving you feeling drained and fatigued. You don’t necessarily have to follow the 8 glasses a day rule but you do want to keep your body well hydrated.
- Keep a water bottle on your desk
- Take a walk to refill your glass every 60-90mins
- Have a glass of water with every meal
- Swap your afternoon milky coffee for herbal tea
10. Tune into your self talk
The thoughts that we have about ourselves – and how we speak to ourselves – is called our ‘self-talk’. These thoughts tend to be relatively automatic; that is, they pop into our minds unintentionally and outside of our control. How we talk about ourselves and our body is a seriously important. Eating the perfect meals and exercising consistently don’t actually matter if we’re berating ourselves or hating ourselves all the time.
- Tune into your self-talk and notice how you speak to yourself within the privacy of your own mind.
- You can support your mind to do this with phrases such as: ‘My mind is telling me … [insert thoughts].’ ‘I’m having a thought that … [insert thought].’
- Try to notice your self-critical voice, and name it when it occurs: ‘Ah! There’s my self-critical voice’.
- See if you can introduce more compassion into your internal dialogue in response to unkind self- talk. Offer yourself encouragement and support when you can. Speak to yourself gently, as you would to a loved one.
READY TO TAKE THE FIRST STEP AND SAY YES TO YOURSELF?