Something that I've been asked a fair few times on my Instagram page is how to get started with a healthier lifestyle. For me, deciding to actually clean up my diet and live a more healthy lifestyle happened in a split second. If you're like me and that happens to you, run with that momentum!!! Seriously, just embrace it and do not look back! However I do understand that not everyone will have this miraculous moment early on in their journeys, and some may not get it at all, which will require just a little more effort in making the transition, taking it as a step by step process.
First off, do not expect to become some sort of god or goddess overnight, and don't have unrealistic expectations for what you can achieve. Perfection does not exist, and once you accept this the whole thing becomes a lot easier. If you are trying to get lean or lose weight or gain muscle etc, it is important that you do have relevant goals though, and that you actually write them down or print them out… just have them somewhere that is physically available for viewing, i.e. a note on your fridge or written on the front of a book you have to use a lot. For myself, I don't know what I can transform my body into, because it's already changed more than I expected it to - so an inspirational photo won't help me because I will just end up comparing myself to it and I don't believe that's a mentally-healthy way to approach things, and I don't want to motivate myself by looking at old photos as a 'warning' to not slip off track because these changes have been for the positive. So I have a note for myself which says, "EAT METICULOUS. TRAIN RIDICULOUS" to remind me of what I want to focus on. If you are just beginning, it's fantastic to set a date for your goals too, this makes them measurable, e.g. "I will lose 3% body fat in a month". If you just want to live healthier and aren't too fussed on any particular physical goal, just find a way to remind yourself to eat healthy when you first begin.
Now lets talk about your mindset. If you worked really hard at your job, managed to climb your way up to the top and start making a huge amount of money and bought yourself a new Lamborghini, are you going to just put sub-par fuel in that thing, or are you going to actually treat it well and only put the high quality stuff in… pretty easy answer, right? I find it helps to think about food in this sort of way, it's literally a fuel for your body to run, that does NOT mean it has to be boring though, there are so many delicious things you can make, you just have to do some trial and error. The human body is absolutely incredible, so it deserves to be looked after. Having a variety of high quality macro and micronutrients in your diet is going to help you reach your physical best, make your skin great, increase cognitive function and elevate and even out your mood. Snacking on a bag of Doritos in the afternoon and grabbing some takeout for dinner on your way home from work is probably not going to do all that for you. When you are going to eat something take a step back and think, "How is this helping my body at a chemical level?" it will help you re-evaluate what you are about to eat. For example, blueberries: very high in antioxidants and contain vitamins A, B, C, E and zinc, just to mention a few. Lentils: high in protein, contain soluble fibre which will lower cholesterol levels and are also packed full of complex carbohydrates which will help increase your energy levels (it definitely does not have to be that specific).
Ready to make the change?
1. Clean all the rubbish food out of your cupboards and fridge, it's time for a fresh start… pun not intended haha.
2. Figure out your goals and write them down, draw them, collage them or pay a goddamn artist to paint a mural for you, just get it visible in your day-to-day life. Start to supplement in healthy foods which you enjoy, and try new things, you'll never know if you like it until you try it.
3. Commit to making the change to healthy eating, you can have 2 "bad meals" per week, or 1 for quicker results (going overboard in your cheat meal is not going to help you, I usually like to just get a nice veggie burger or sushi for mine, but I am trying to be pretty strict with my food nowadays).
4. Meal prep is key. Eating every couple of hours will help you too. A general amount of meals during a day for me is breakfast > snack > lunch > snack > dinner. Write down a list of meals and snacks that you will eat during the week. I like to cook up a batch of foods and I've learnt not to get bored of them. I will eat the same lunch 3 days in a row, and and the same dinner 3 days in a row, then switch it up.
5. While you're at it, plan your workouts. If you have never really exercised consistently before, commit to doing at least 4 half hour workouts a week, you can always build it up from there, and remember resistance is just as important, if not more important, than cardio.
6. Go shopping and only purchase what is on your list, try to mainly stick to the refrigerated and fresh produce sections. By minimising the amount of time you have to spend in the general aisles you're going to reduce temptations to put naughty things in your shopping trolley!
7. Don't torture yourself if you slip up, just tell yourself you'll do better, relax, and get back to your original plan.
8. Drink lots of water!!! 1L per 30kg of body weight is the recommended amount, more if you exercise, and more if you live in a warmer climate. This will be pretty difficult to adapt to at first, it makes it easier if you tell yourself how many millilitres (or bottles) you need to have had by certain times of the day. Personally I find myself drinking around 4L on a regular day now because the weather is heating up, I could probably rave on about the benefits for a week if someone let me.
I'm interested to know how other people found their motivation, did it happen in a split second or did you have to have patience and make small changes?