There are five habits I have that have nothing to do with food or eating that make me feel healthy and in control. And no matter how much crap I ate the day before, I know I can wake up and do these five things to get myself back on track.
Before I tell you what they are, let’s talk about food for a second.
I think we focus too much on food — obsessively so. It’s disturbing to me to turn on the Today show or open up People magazine and hear someone talking about how we should be afraid of nightshade vegetables or read about how you should be following a ketogenic diet. The reason it upsets me is because it makes you miss the forest for the trees. Why freak out over whether you should drink matcha tea or bullet coffee when you don’t even exercise?
Plus, being obsessed with finding the perfect combination of foods tricks you into believing that there is some sort of magic formula to health and weight loss. As long as you buy into the “magic pill” mindset, you prevent yourself from taking responsibility for your health, which means that none of the changes you make will stick.
So here are the five habits I practice that instantly give me the “it’s a brand new day” feeling I need to keep going:
1. Sweat. Tell yourself that all you need to do is break a sweat. You don’t need to have some hour-long, hard-core cardio session. Just break a sweat. Sweating makes you feel like you’re getting things moving and getting the clean-out process started. Taking a steam or a sauna counts.
2. Hydrate. There’s nothing easier than chugging a bottle of water to make you feel like you’re doing something healthy. Put bottles by your bedside table, in your bathroom, in your car, next to your computer, or anywhere else you spend time.
3. Exfoliate. This is one of my favorites. Scrubbing off all the dead skin makes you feel like a new person, and it’s super relaxing. You don’t need anything fancy — sugar and olive oil is perfect (that’s what I use).
4. Nap. If you feel tired, please promise me you will take a nap, even if it’s just for fifteen minutes. A quick nap refreshes you and helps you keep going. Don’t treat yourself like a drill sergeant like I used to and push yourself until you collapse. That is a sure way to generate a ton of resistance that you will eventually neutralize with food.
5. De-stress. Feeling constantly stressed keeps cortisol flowing through your bloodstream, which makes you more likely to binge eat and store fat. As soon as you start feeling overwhelmed, irritated, or stressed, access your mental list of three to five easy things you can do to calm down. Light a candle, listen to classical music, go sit outside. (You also produce cortisol when you don’t sleep, by the way.)
All of these care-taking habits help you feel more loving and less resistant of your body — which translates into eating to fuel yourself rather than shove down food to make yourself feel better. And doing healthy things makes you want to do more healthy things.
If you feel like you’re constantly back to square one with your eating habits and it’s keeping you in the downward diet spiral — binge, gain, diet, lose, binge — try making one of these a habit first. It’s easier to do something (like a body scrub) than it is to try not to do something (like cutting carbs).
And doing something positive that has nothing to do with food takes the pressure off you and how you’re going to eat today. Plus, it’s really hard to do all this and then want to binge on Oreos.
I would go so far to say that engaging in these habits daily is arguably more important than having the perfect diet (if there were such a thing). Because what’s the point of eating perfectly healthy if your life is complete chaos and you’re not sleeping?
It’s so important to give yourself consistent small wins that make you feel like you’re making progress. These simple actions give you immediate small wins, which eventually compound and accelerate your results. Most important, they make you feel good about yourself — and you should. 🙂