One piece of obvious advice I would give to anyone wanting to diet, eat healthier, or change a habit: you have to lean into being uncomfortable or behaving differently than you previously did. You might have to request special menu items or (horror!) bringing your food with you at times.
If you aren’t ready to look odd, feel odd, or do things that draw attention to yourself, you’re not quite prepared. That’s okay. For a lot of people, attention is the last thing they want. It’s hard to get anything worthwhile done without drawing scrutiny. Even if you have the best intentions, people will ascribe motives to your actions. You have to practice tuning that out.
While you’re at it, just as you don’t listen to financial advice coming from people who’ve failed to follow it, don’t give naysayers who don’t live and eat healthy your time or attention. If they have a system that requires a membership, a pill, or investment, look elsewhere. The tools we need to eat healthier and be healthier are mostly available, no matter where we are. (Again, it’s important to note that this isn’t universally true.)
Another piece of advice, one most overlooked, is that being healthier isn’t complicated for most people. As always, I will throw out the disclaimer that many people DO have medical or other issues that might impede them; I’m writing for the middle crowd, not the fringes. Most of us in this vast middle owe our bad habits to our choices. Most of the time, it is no secret to us what those bad choices are. We KNOW. But we don’t act.
Everything hinges on choice. Will you choose to reduce how much you consume? Will those options be better choices?
Weight management expressed for an average person: do you consume less fuel than you use over the long-term? You can get weighed down in all manner of complicated diets that require tracking a ridiculous assortment of things. The truth, though: if you significantly reduce the amount you eat and continue to do so long-term, your weight will decrease proportionally.
It’s essential that whatever choices you make, you make the choices for the rest of your life. Not for six months or a year. Forever. That’s the part we tend to stumble with. It is not the dirty secret of eating healthier. Instead, it is the essential truth that explains why almost all dieting fails. Changes must be for the rest of your life. Anything that fails to address healthy eating at its core will not succeed long-term.
Every incremental change you make will cause consequences. There are no exceptions. Maintaining the changes will transform you over a long enough time frame. If you stack enough changes into your life, your goal will be easier to reach.
If you’re looking for massive and quick changes, you’re probably still not ready. But if you’re prepared to change small things to pursue a larger goal, you’re on the right track. Most of us spent decades doing it wrong. To expect a transformative change as the result of a pill, powder, or fad is going to get you into trouble. It might work for you for a while; you’ll have to continue doing whatever you chose forever, though. Otherwise, you’ll yo-yo and fight an endless battle that fails to address lifetime behaviors.
It might be hard for you to do it. A friend of mine beat the phrase “Choose your hard” into my head. Yes, it is hard changing your habits. But so, too, are the consequences of failing to do so. It’s easy to keep doing things wrong. Food is delicious.
I found an old quote of mine: “Old habits don’t die. You must murder them.”
If you have a goal that’s important to you, a little bit of insistence goes a long way. Being fanatical has its benefits. If your tendency to overeat were a heroin addiction, you wouldn’t easily allow someone to convince you to try just a little bit of heroin. So much of our behavior is based on equilibrium. The slightest thing can turn us upside down. Until it is the new normal, it is going to be weird and awkward for you.
If you’re looking to lose weight, you will get the biggest bang for your effort by focusing on your diet. Exercise is essential for many reasons; for weight maintenance, you will be better off learning to eat correctly. If not, you will succumb to the inherent drawbacks of intense exercise. Everyone tends to misquote this. I in no way deny the benefits of exercise. My entire point hinges on weight maintenance and learning new eating habits.
Additionally, unless you will continue your new exercise regimen for the rest of your life, I would advise learning the fundamentals of eating correctly. As for exercise, I recommend avoiding the gym. The best kinds of activity don’t require a location and certainly not an artificial one for the average person. For some, the gym may give you the focus to change long-term. For most of us, though? Probably not. It’s artificial. Most of us can skip the gym and use the travel time to and from to engage in practical activity and exercise.
I know I am oversimplifying, especially since I’m writing for the average person.
I could sell you a book or dress up my arguments.
Learn to eat healthily and track what you eat. You will be shocked.
No matter what you want to do, find a way to do it today, from where you are.