If you walk around campus, you are likely to find a vending machine filled with snacks in virtually every building. Even in the bookstore, you can purchase anything you crave. You can see people eating in the most random places, such as the restroom. Yes, I am talking about the ones near the cafeteria.
There is food that tempts us everywhere we go, but that is okay. I believe that one of the reasons why many of us struggle with weight loss or gain is that we think that only certain types of food are allowed. For example, we believe that we should never have carbs if we want to lose weight. Here is the issue: Things that are forbidden are ten times more interesting, and we know it.
Every single diet I have tried is based on the same idea. If you deprive yourself of X, then you will lose weight. As I have mentioned in the past, those diets work, but the results are not sustainable. Even if they are, they make people miss out on many things. People should not feel as if they are a huge failure because they had a cookie.
I cannot tell you how many times I have said no to things because of the belief that they were forbidden. On my last birthday, I chose not to have a piece of cake and watched as my family devoured my favorite cake. Everybody was so proud of my self-discipline. Me? I could not wait for them to leave so I could sneak a taste!
Living with so many restrictions is no fun, and it puts people on an endless, guilt-ridden cycle. We eat healthy, slip up, feel bad, then start again. That is no way to live, and the all-or-nothing approach to good health should no longer be the norm.
To me, things began to change once I realized that I did not have to eliminate my favorite foods from my diet forever. What I needed was to have them in moderation. It was that simple, yet it took me years and many failed diets to learn that lesson.
Achieving good health does not have to feel like a chore. We should eat healthy because it makes us feel good, and we should know that it is okay to have a treat occasionally. We should exercise for energy and relaxation, and not only because we want to lose weight. It is okay if we skip the gym one day because our body feels tired. It is not the end of the world.
Instead of making mega-changes, we should tackle a few changes at a time. Taking small, positive steps feels more like an accomplishment and less like torture. That is what becoming healthier is about.
How to start? There are many ways. You could add more grams of fiber to your diet, add an extra serving of veggies at lunch and dinner, drink more water, take 10-minute walks, and get more sleep. Will these result in rapid changes? No, but they will lead to habits that last and make you feel better about yourself.
If you slip up and overindulge, drink too much, or fail to exercise, you will not feel as guilty because you know that you are making changes that will last a lifetime. When you make a mistake, forgive yourself and get back on track the next day. And hey, if you prefer a strict diet, more power to you. The point is that we should all focus less on blaming ourselves, and start living more.