Six months of health coach + Power of Habit = superwoman?
December 30, 2015 7:11 PM   Subscribe

My Christmas present to myself is six months of a health coach who is also a registered dietitian. I recently fell in love with The Power of Habit. I would like suggestions on how to maximize the next six months to build healthy habits that will net real health and fitness changes now and stick with me over the years.

I'm working around some health issues and general middle age lack of fitness. I've gained a bit of weight this year, and it's making me sad that it's just enough that physical movement is more challenging now. I want to run and do handstands and climb sand dunes without stopping to catch my breath!

I actually have a pretty good idea of nutrition and exercise, so I'm not looking for information from the health coach, exactly, just...moral support? Scientific basis for forming good habits? Suggestions on which habits will be most impactful?

I'm thinking of habits like:
- exercise every morning
- get back to eating way more produce
- learn to stop eating at 80% full
- learn when I am hungry vs when I am craving something, and discover non-food ways of beating cravings (for instance, I've recently realized I sometimes interpret as hunger the craving for a scent-- peeling a clementine is as satisfying as eating chocolate)

I would love all kinds of feedback, brainstorming, advice, anything you've got. Help me take advantage of this awesome opportunity.
posted by instamatic to Health & Fitness (4 answers total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
In terms of forming habits like exercising in the morning or eating more produce, I think Gretchen Rubin has great ideas that are based on research. In particular, her ideas about the Four Tendencies have helped me better understand the ways I form habits that stick. Her book Better Than Before and her podcast are great resources.
posted by katie at 12:52 AM on December 31, 2015 [2 favorites]

learn to stop eating at 80% full

go to a delicious buffet. eat until you're 80% full. Go back the next day. Eat until you're 80% full. Repeat all week or until you get into your head that there truly is enough food, you don't need to eat to stuffedness and that actually being 80% full is a more pleasant sensation.

learn when I am hungry vs when I am craving something

craving is mental. hunger is physical. Stop fixating on the thing you're craving and think about something else. Just notice "I'm fixating again" (not "don't want this!" which only increases desire) and let the thought pass. Physical hunger will stay, mental fixation will pass if you are distracted enough.

get back to eating way more produce

learn how to season food. there is a great tv show from the UK that I'll link to; it opened me up to understanding flavorful vs "mmm tasty" i.e. greasy/salty that I had been accustomed to because of restaurants. When you add the right kind of flavor to veggies they are divine!

exercise every morning

absolutely cannot help you there - if mornings don't work try your lunch break. I couldn't exercise at 6am if my life depended on it. But I love stepping out on my lunch break.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 7:26 AM on December 31, 2015 [2 favorites]

The tv show was called Cook Yourself Thin

scroll down for links to recipies featured on the show. She was all about substituting flavor for calories so that food is satisfying. And she wasn't aiming to get stick thin, just to help Britons make smarter choices. I've made the recipies and yum!
posted by St. Peepsburg at 7:35 AM on December 31, 2015

What an awesome xmas gift for yourself!

I'm participating in a weight loss clinical study. The weight loss phase was very strict, but I lost 30 pounds in three months and haven't felt this healthy since I was a teenager. The study is continuing now for a year long weight maintenance phase, where we log our exercise amounts, fruit/veggie intake, and meet weekly for education sessions. The hope is that we will learn healthy habits to maintain this weight from now on. A lot of what we are learning about seems applicable to your question.

Some suggestions:

- Exercise every day is not always a good goal. Instead, we set a goal of minutes per week. That way, you're not beating yourself up for missing one day and you can always make up lost minutes the next week.

- Pay attention to your heart rate when doing cardio. We have a heart rate range to stay within (around 70% of max heart rate). I love this because it keeps me from slowing down and taking it easy, or trying to count non-strenuous activities, like walking the dog, as exercise.

- Keep tons of produce on hand. Not just in the kitchen, but in the car, at work, wherever you go. It doesn't have to be fresh - a can of low sodium green beans is way better than a bag of chips when you just need something to eat on the side. I also prep stuff ahead of time if I can or grab some bags of seasoned frozen veggies from Trader Joe's.

- Record what you eat and how much exercise you do. I use the MyFitnessPal app, but even just a pen and paper list without calories helps keep you aware of your habits, triggers, and accomplishments. They've found that logging regularly is the top predictor of continued weight loss in this study.

- We've talked a lot about intuitive eating. I've found the best way to keep myself at 80% is to eat slowly and contemplatively. I think about how full I am every couple of minutes and stop when I feel satisfied.

-Reward yourself periodically. Did you have a great week? Get a massage. Treat yourself to a small ice cream cone. Buy yourself some new exercise clothes or maybe a new outfit.

Best of luck!
posted by galvanized unicorn at 8:04 AM on December 31, 2015 [7 favorites]

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