We all know that what you eat has a massive impact on your weight and overall health. Everywhere you turn there’s new advice designed to help you achieve optimum nutrition but you can’t maintain a perfect diet all the time and honestly who really wants to?
Food comes in many glorious forms and flavours – some healthy, some not so much. Let’s be honest – life is way too short to deprive yourself of all the delicious things that aren’t particularly healthy and who has that kind of willpower anyway?
The thing is, you don’t need to eat perfectly all the time to lose weight, or even maintain your weight. You just need to develop and maintain healthy food and exercise habits most of the time. The secret to losing weight and maintaining a healthy lifestyle isn’t depriving yourself of all the unhealthy foods you love and it’s not about cutting whole food groups out of your diet either.
The secret to weight loss and maintaining a healthy weight is developing new, healthier habits that you can sustain most of the time.
You likely know my story of losing 60kg but statistics tell us that the real trick isn’t losing weight, it’s keeping that weight off. The statistics are depressing, so I’m not going to go there, but I’ve come to realise there are a few healthy habits that need to stay constant in my life for me to maintain this weight loss. For me, these include taking my lunch to work each day, walking every day, cooking most nights and strength training three times a week. That’s it. Four healthy choices that, when performed regularly, allow me to maintain my current weight.
I think of these as my core habits and if I do them consistently every week I’ve found that I can maintain my weight and still enjoy some of my favourite (less than healthy) foods every now and again.
Am I perfect? No. Sure, I miss the odd walk and sometimes the contents of my lunchbox (yes I’m a grown man with a lunchbox) just doesn’t look that appealing to me. Of course, there are nights when I just don’t have the energy to cook after a long day at work, but more often than not I walk or run to work, eat my prepared lunch, cook tea every night and lift some weights every other day.
If I skip any of these too often I start to gain weight.
These are habits I’ve developed over time. They didn’t happen overnight, I built up to this point slowly and as a result, they are habits that don’t require willpower or sacrifice. They’re simply part of my everyday routine.
Remember, a habit, by definition, is a settled or regular tendency or practice.
The cool thing about developing healthy habits is that they work for you and they don’t require an endless source of motivation or willpower. Over time they become an action you perform without conscious thought and that’s very different from trying to convince yourself that you need to go to the gym, go for a run, or workout.
Core habits will look different for everyone, walking to work may not be possible for you, lifting weights may not be right for you either (I do think everyone should do some form of strength training, though). Whatever habits you do try to develop, make sure you enjoy them – it’s nearly impossible to continuously repeat an action that you simply don’t like.
Finding your own set of healthy and sustainable habits will be a process, it’ll take time and include some trial and error but once you find them you’ll have unlocked the secret to a healthy and sustainable lif