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By Lauri Mackey — 3 years ago
3 foolproof ways to make healthy eating really work for you
by: Samantha Russell with LiveTheWhole.com
Healthy eating is hard to stick to. Sometimes it feels like the whole world is against you, with birthday parties, food-centered holidays, and potluck parties every second weekend.
I recently did a bunch of interviews with hard-working and accomplished women who all struggle to eat in a way that feels good to them. The number 1 thing they identified as getting in their way the most was consistency.
They all have so much knowledge about health, nutrition, and the way the want to be eating – but feel like life just constantly throws them curve balls and encourages them to eat more cake, buy more ice cream, and make exceptions to their plan all the time.
So, how can you make healthy eating actually work for you in a consistent way? Here are 3 foolproof ways to make healthy food choices your automatic ‘go to’ every day.
Step 1: Set SMART goals
Goals are great – you probably have them for your career, and maybe even your relationship, but have you stopped to formulate some great food and eating goals as well?
Just like any other goals in your life, healthy eating goals need to be SMART, or
Resonates with you, and
This means you have to think hard about exactly what you want to do, how you’ll measure your success, how to make the goal realistic for you and fit into your life, and when you’re going to pause and assess how things are going.
The problem with most healthy eating goals is that they go something like “I’m going to start eating better”, or “I’m going to cut down on carbs”, or even “I’m quitting sugar from now on”. There’s nothing wrong with trying any of these, but you’re going to need a better plan if you want to succeed.
For example, a SMART goal for “I’m quitting sugar” is:
“For the next 2 weeks (time managed), I am not going to eat or drink any sugar or added sweetener (specific + measurable). Instead, I’ll have a piece of fruit and drink green tea if I feel I need a little something extra (resonates + attainable).”
Step 2: Plan your meals the night before
Meal planning is the most helpful action step you can take to make healthy food choices easy – because you’ve already made them.
Simply sit down for 5 minutes before you go to bed and write down exactly what you’re going to eat the next day. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, and drinks.
Yes, even if it involves looking up the menu of a restaurant. By making food decisions when you’re relaxed, not hungry, and can give them your full attention, you’ll make way better decisions that are more in-line with your goals.
Now, with the food decisions already made, all you have to do is stick with them. If you feel like you’re going to struggle with that, this is where step 3 comes in.
Step 3: Have an emergency recovery plan
No matter how SMART your goals are, or how much planning you do, there are definitely going to be times when it’s still hard to make healthy choices. Consistency is really key when you’re habit building, so I like to use the superpowers of
- The bigger picture,
- Meditation, and
- Switching gears
To help stay on track.
No matter how dedicated you are to changing your eating, stress, tiredness, and social pressure (to name just a couple of things!) can all make some really convincing sounding arguments as to why you should choose fast food tonight and “start eating healthy again in the morning”. Sometimes that’s ok, but when it’s happening multiple times a week, you’re not going to reach your goals.
So, when you can feel temptation or stress getting the better of you, take a moment to think about the bigger picture of why you want to eat healthier. Is it to be a good role model for you kids? Feel better in your body and be confident you trust yourself with food? Or to avoid carrying on the family history of type-2 diabetes and high blood pressure? Thinking about this bigger picture helps keep you motivated and on-track.
Some Lauri’s Lemonade Stand Podcast episodes that are great for this:
Interview with Katie Arms – take a moment out of your day to find out how Katie took a massive life-curveball and made it work for her on every level.
Interview with me – learn more about my struggle with change, eating, and consistency and how I personally made lasting change.
Interview with Makeda Pennycooke – learn how to transform you fear and make yourself feel safe.
The second secret weapon is meditation. You’re not going to want to do it – but trust me, put an app like headspace on your phone and when you feel yourself going off track in a way you don’t like, pop in your earphones and take a 5 minute timeout. Sometimes that’s all you need to refocus and get on with your day (and stick to the food plan you made the night before).
And finally, when you feel cravings creeping up on you, try mentally switching gears. Research shows that taking a break and doing something totally different with your brain reduces the intensity of cravings. In fact, the research was done using the game ‘Tetris’, which you can put on your phone right now. Fun, and helps you stay healthy.
The process of making healthy eating a habit is really all about practice, but it’s also about being prepared. Don’t expect (or even aim for) perfection, but you can definitely make healthy eating easy and automatic if you follow the 3 steps outlined above. Every great choice you make creates a positive cycle of self-trust, momentum, and motivation that can move your forward each day – towards a happier, healthier you.
About The Author:
Samantha runs Live the Whole and is certified by the Institute for the Psychology of Eating in the US, has a certificate in clinical and pastoral counseling from the University of Glasgow in the UK, and has a degree in psychology from Massey University in New Zealand.
Sam specializes in helping clients manage and heal their relationship with food, body, and self. She uses a blend of positive psychology and mind-body-nutrition connections, along with traditional coaching and counseling methodologies. She works together with clients to uncover the root causes of unwanted eating so they can feel happy, free, and in control.
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By Lauri Mackey — 6 years ago2013 FireOut of the Ashes We Can Find HopeThis story of hope begins in 2013, when our county experienced a terrible fire. We were evacuated from our homes on a moment’s notice. The picture you see below with billowing orange smoke bombs was taken from my friends camera as we stopped to look back, perhaps for the last time on our neighborhood. I remember calling my mom while sitting in the long line of cars trying to leave and telling her of the situation. She expressed concern and told me to stay safe, but when I sent her that picture, she freaked out! It’s a lesson learned on how pictures speak louder than words. My husband and I truly thought that our home would be gone and that we would be starting from scratch. At the time, it just didn’t matter. I had just driven out of there with flames on the side of the road consuming trees that were 100 feet tall. I was alive, he was alive, I had rescued our kitties and our daughter had been at school. All was well as far as I was concerned.This particular fire burned hot and fast. It consumed everything in its path and in the end burned over 24,000 acres from a little valley, crossing the mountain range and ending at the ocean. Everything was black, sad and black. The smell of smoke and ash would be our constant companion for weeks. Words could not describe what we saw. We had people come drive out to see us and not truly get what had happened until they saw it for themselves. It is now just over two years as I write this and our beautiful mountains still carry the scars of this fire.The firefighters were the true heroes of the day. They miraculously saved our entire housing community. They had used our hose as our house faces a hill that was burned. A tree was knocked down by a fire truck. Trees surrounding the outskirts of the neighborhood were singed and blackened from the fire, but every home was safe. How was that possible? I saw the fire as I left. I saw the crazy big flames and felt the heat so hot that I had to roll up my car windows to not feel like I was getting burned. I had zero hope.(Our housing surrounded by blackened hills)As I look back, I’ve likened this very physical and temporal experience to a spiritual battle I had in my own life. So much is the same. The darkness was real and hope was not on my radar. Not so much as a little blip on the screen. When I read the saying that someone had “temporarily turned the light off at the end of the tunnel”, I could completely relate. (Stay with me now, because I found that silly little light-switch to turn on my own light!)Now, unlike the fire, I have no one to blame but myself. I made choices that brought me to that tunnel without a supposed light and had removed myself so far out there that my radar was actually damaged and couldn’t see that blip that turns out, was just hiding, not gone. Part of my lesson was realizing that I didn’t know how dark things had become. When you make wrong choices, consistently over a long period of time, they become your reality. My tunnel light had not been turned off, but there was so much smoke I had created that it just wasn’t visible to me anymore.My dark choices will not be the same as yours. We all have our own enemies to fight so I won’t bore you with the details of my battles, but I did win this particular war. The only way to win the war is to do exactly the opposite of what got you there to begin with. In my case, that meant not making decisions on my own. If I had tried to battle our physical fire around our homes I would have lost! I did not have the skills or expertise in that field. Everyone would have suffered the loss of their homes. The firefighters were the experts. I needed an expert in life. That meant turning to my spiritual power of prayer and getting on my knees and begging God to help me. He was my firefighter and I needed all of his expertise and knowledge of life to help me fight. All of my choices had brought me to that place…dark, lonely, afraid, sorely sad, and just plain miserable. Surely God could help me make better decisions than the ones I had been making.And indeed he did. It took some time, but I am grateful for my experiences I have had in my life. They have made me who I am today. Just like our mountains, I carry the scars from those days, but I believe, “A mended heart is stronger”. They remind me see that if I can make it…anyone can! I truly mean that with all my heart and soul. Ladies, if I can make it…so can you!Some people see the fires that burn hot and fast, while others experience a slow burn, but my goal in writing this blog today is to give you hope. Hope that you can become a magical electrician and wire your own switch for a light at the end of your tunnel. Hope that you see the sun and feel the warmth on your skin and in your soul. Hope that you find a flashlight along the way. Hope that your friend can loan you a flashlight until you can locate yours. Hope that out of your darkness and ashes, you rise like the fabled Phoenix to start again, renewed and strengthened for your journey ahead. Because once you are on that path, you need to loan your flashlight to others who can’t see their light and help them on their journey.Yours in Hope and Positivity…#makelemonade
By Lauri Mackey — 6 years ago
Bright LinesI have friends from many different faiths. Some of my friends and even strangers have asked me how I can be in what they deem such a “rigid” faith. So many rules…so many restrictions. But I believe that rules bring freedom. Enter in: Bright Lines.The proof is in the pudding…or jail. Yes, jail. Very simply put, there are rules set in place that if you break, you go to jail. In jail all of your freedoms are taken from you. Now, someone else is in charge of what used to be your decisions. They decide what you get to eat, to wear, and where you can and cannot go. You no longer have control over your life because you broke the rules.Just recently I was introduced to the concept of Bright Lines. I looked it up on Google and here is what they had to say: “A bright-line rule is a clearly defined rule or standard, composed of objective factors, which leaves little or no room for varying interpretation. The purpose of a bright-line rule is to produce predictable and consistent results in its application.”Let me give you a few examples of Bright Lines in my life so you can see that you have Bright Lines already established in your life as well. I have a Bright Line that I have drawn about never consuming alcohol or doing drugs. I will not eat any animal products or watch R-rated movies. I even have one for never driving over 37 mph in our neighborhood because the cops are always perched somewhere and I don’t want a ticket! These particular Bright Lines keep my body happy and cheerful physically, my brain happy and cheerful mentally, and my bank account happy and cheerful for not getting that speeding ticket!There have been times in my life that even though those Bright Lines were established in what I thought to be in stone, I broke. I’m not talking about coming up and putting my toe right against the line. I’m talking about wiping the line away, jumping completely on the other side, feeling a moment of exhilaration for having broken the rules, and then eventually feeling guilt over my decision and the inevitable consequences.You have every freedom in making your decisions, but you are not in charge of the consequences. Good or bad, you do not have control over the consequences of your decisions.The reason I am introducing this Bright Line concept to you today is that no matter what your past has been and the rules that we have all broken, we can begin today to set up new Bright Lines for ourselves. Maybe it is something as simple as developing a habit to brush your teeth in the evening and not just in the morning. (My dad is a dentist and I’m still working on this one!) Maybe it is to not say something critical to anyone today, especially your loved ones. Maybe it is not to have critical thoughts towards yourself. Maybe it’s a bigger goal that you have in mind.Whatever your goal is, draw a Bright Line and as my friend and mentor, Susan Pierce Thompson says, “Simply Resume”. Don’t beat yourself up over having crossed the line. Just draw another one and resume. I wish you good luck with your Bright Lines! Sending love to you wherever you are in your journey.