For many people, embarking on a new diet or food plan can be overwhelming. I remember reading a book called “The Compound Effect” by Darren Hardy years ago. He used an analogy of an old-fashioned water pump. When you first begin to pump the handle, the work is hard, producing no results (as the water didn’t begin to flow yet). However, if you stick with the hard work, eventually, the water begins to flow out of the pump (results happen) and then much less effort and work is needed to keep the water flowing. This was a beautiful illustration that I have often repeated over the years to my clients. The neat thing is that this concept can apply to any aspect of your life, including health, finances and relationships.
So how do you apply this concept to your health? Well, let’s start pushing the handle to your water pump! These 5 tips can help you establish new habits that at first can be hard, but over time, becomes a way of life.
Water. It is essential for life and makes up over 50% of your body weight. Simply put, without it, your body cannot function optimally. Carry a water bottle (glass or BPA free plastic) around with you everywhere you go. The goal is to drink 64-80 oz. of water each day
Always eat breakfast. The term “break-fast” is trying to tell you something…you need to break your overnight fast of 8-12 hours. Giving your body fuel in the morning stimulates it into action and sends a message: “It is time to burn fat.” The ultimate goal is to have protein, fat and a small amount of carbohydrates at breakfast.
Eat real food! When you begin eating whole foods, a couple things happen. First, you don’t have to read labels to see what is hidden in them because fresh foods don’t come packaged! Some exceptions to this rule can include oils/healthy fats, nuts/seeds that are prepackaged (rather than bulk) and canned legumes. Pick fresh (or frozen) vegetables and fruits, hormone-free meat and poultry, wild-caught fish, a variety of nuts and seeds, and healthy oils/fats. (By the way, healthy fats/oils make food taste delicious, so don’t think you are sacrificing taste!) Second, your body is properly nourished and will feel satisfied. The end result? Cravings disappear and health reappears!
Make a date with yourself for exercise. We all are consumed with a busy lifestyle, which is exactly why you need to schedule the time for yourself. Put you exercise into your calendar as an appointment in your life. I am reminded of a cartoon that stated, “What works better for you, exercise for 30 minutes per day or being dead for 24 hours a day?” Something is better than nothing in the case of exercise. Shoot for 30 minutes each day of some type of activity. This translates into 3.5 hours per week that you dedicated to yourself and your health. If you can’t find this time, you may need to reevaluate where your time is going each week (computer, TV, phone, etc.) And the best part, walking is free to everyone so you don’t need to add an expense into your life.
Remember that change is hard work! Many media outlets will have you believing that making significant changes in your life should be a breeze and when you stumble, you feel like a big failure because “everyone else can do it, why can’t I?” The problem is, not everyone else is doing it! Change takes time! Do not expect a miracle overnight. For the body to stimulate significant changes at a cellular level, it needs a minimum of 12 weeks of consistency. So be kind to yourself and recognize all the little successes you have along the way.