February has long been called the “slump month”…it feels like it takes forever to get through! The holidays are over, winter sadly seems to have no end in sight, and that March spring break seems like wishful thinking versus actual reality. Although it’s the shortest month, it somehow seems to drag on, mysteriously making it seem like the longest.
The reality of this month is that many of us feel like we’re physically in a slump too. Remember those resolutions we felt like we “needed” to make a few weeks back? Those little promises we were sure would change our lives for the better in no time?
The unfortunate truth is that by now, many of us are beginning to lose sight of the changes we promised ourselves we’d make. We said we’d eat healthier, we said we’d lose that pesky 20 pounds that settled itself around our midsections, we said we wouldn’t ever go through another drive-thru again…we essentially promised ourselves a whole new life. But then, reality and our schedules set in, and here we are, back to square one again.
So what goes wrong when we have such great ideas and good intentions? One way to answer that is by thinking of the old saying, “Fail to plan, plan to fail.” It sounds too simple, almost annoyingly simple when you think about it. But to be honest, I think it’s fairly accurate; when we don’t set a plan, we are often times planning to fail. Changing your diet seems like a great idea in theory, but let’s be honest, it takes a little bit of effort to get it going.
There’s also a tradeoff that takes place. When we make changes to our life, we inevitably trade one thing for something else. When we change our grocery list and how or what we eat, we alter our daily routine and this changes how much time it takes to prepare meals, for example.
This is where the planning ahead comes into play. Listen to the words of Bill O’Hanlon, inspirational speaker and author who said, “It is often easier to change something small than to make a big, dramatic change. A bigger change often is not only harder to make but might create severe disruptions in areas other than the ones that need to be changed.”
Making radical changes overnight just to make your newly made resolutions work probably isn’t the best idea and helps explain why so many of us don’t stick to them for very long. However, making a few small changes over time has a far greater chance of achieving the results we are hoping for.
If you made a resolution to change what you eat (or as I call it “change your plate”), then here are 3 easy ways to change your life without completely overwhelming it at the same time.
1. Start shopping the outside of the grocery store.
If you can steer your shopping cart towards the outermost aisles, you’ll end up purchasing fresh fruits and vegetables, dairy, meat and fish. In essence, you’ll easily start following the simple principle of eating “real food” while avoiding most of the processed foods that so easily wreak havoc on our health. Click here for a shopping list to help you get started.
2. Balance your way to better health!
Keeping your blood sugar stable by eating nourishing food—giving your body good fuel—at balanced intervals is key to maintaining or healing your metabolism, and to losing or maintaining weight easily and efficiently. Balancing your blood sugar can be very simple and can have an immediately positive effect on your body and your outlook. Start by picking your protein first and then adding your carbohydrates. If you choose a non-starchy vegetable, you may need to add more carbohydrates to maintain balance. Check out the shopping list to help you identify what foods are considered proteins versus fats.
3. Plan Ahead!
Each week, designate a couple of hours to plan and cook meals for the week; the best day for most people is usually Sunday. The idea is to know what you’ll be eating that week so you don’t have to rely on convenience foods. If you have a family, do the planning together so that everyone is happy and on the same page. In addition, make it a point to be as efficient as possible by cooking in bulk. This way, you’ll have leftovers as well as meals that you can freeze and pull out in a pinch. Print this helpful meal planning worksheet to start introducing these ideas to your schedule and your family.
While making positive changes in your life is important, turning it upside down overnight doesn’t usually get you to where you want to be. A better approach is to begin by making small changes that overtime can yield big results. Feeling and looking your best aren’t selfish desires; rather, your aspirations are an important part of becoming the very best you for not only yourself, but your family and friends as well. So take some time this month to implement these strategies…you never know, it just might change your life!