I’ve done the whole calorie counting thing. I joined the Michelle Bridges 12WBT program. I downloaded the My Fitness Pal app. I stuck to my 1200 calories a day. And yes I lost weight. But I also lost my enjoyment of food. Every meal was a minefield of “how many calories is this?” and “I wonder how much this weighs?” I ate a lot of low fat foods high in sugar and salt. And once I finished the 12 weeks I put the weight back on as quickly as I had lost it because no one can survive on 1200 calories over the long term. And I hadn’t really learned anything about healthy eating along the way.

Since then, I have completed my health coaching certification and have realised that no one diet and exercise plan fits all. Diet plans that focus on deprivation and loss are not sustainable. Instead creating a healthy lifestyle with a focus on crowding out, strengthening body, mind and spirit and nourishment is the way to go. Let me explain.

Crowding Out

The problem with diet programs is that they want you to stop eating all of your favourite foods. Bye-bye to chocolate, chips, cheese, wine (you get drift). Now I am not advocating a diet full of these things, but what if I said you could still eat them and be healthy?

The concept of crowding out is to add in more and more healthy stuff to your regular diet. The more healthy stuff you are eating, the less space you’ll have for the crappy stuff. If you currently eat a diet that is full of processed food and lacking in veggies, then just start adding veggies. Have a small salad with lunch and dinner or try a chocolate smoothie for breakfast (with added spinach).

Or instead of cutting carbs completely, change white bread to wholemeal and white rice to brown rice.

Make the changes small, one at a time. If you try to do everything at once you are more likely to fail. That’s the beauty of “crowding out”… because it’s not a meal plan, you actually can’t fail. So instead of bye-bye to your favourite foods, it’s see-ya later guilt! And hello to healthier, happier you!

Strengthening Mind, Body, Spirit

The reason many of us reach for the extra glass of wine, the large block of chocolate or the cheese and onion chips is because we are bored, lonely, stressed, sad, frustrated etc. etc. Yep, it’s a very emotional thing. And again, just denying yourself your comfort food is likely to make you feel even more emotional (guilt for one) and so it means we reach for even more of the stuff.

Feeling healthy is more than just losing weight and having a killer body. Its more than eating all the “right” foods all the time. It’s about feeling strong (and understanding that sometimes you aren’t and that’s ok).

To build resilience in mind, body and spirit I recommend the following

  1. Mind – meditation is really amazing. It teaches you to be more compassionate to yourself and to others. This means you are less likely to feel bored, sad, frustrated etc. If you’d like to learn more about the basics of meditation check out my video here.
  2. Body – of course here I am going to say yoga. A regular practice strengthens your body. It will also help to slim you down and you’ll also get some much needed deep breathing. If you’d like to learn some yoga basics for free then join my free 7 day yoga course online.
  3. Spirit – a wonderful (and natural way) to boost your spirit and deal with your emotions is through essential oils. These can be used aromatically (through a diffuser or just inhaled) or they can be applied to the skin. And good quality ones like doTERRA brand can often be ingested.   I have started using oils every day to either boost my motivation (Motivate Blend) or to help me relax (Lavender Peace).

 Nourishment

The last thing to keep in mind is whether or not the foods we eat (and the context we eat them in) are nourishing for us. There is a big difference between sharing some hot chips with your family on a fun day out and scoffing some down fervently in the car so no one else will see.

Start to ask yourself several times a day “will this nourish me?” Not just food, but also tasks, outings, exercise… everything! If you start to learn more about what you like, how your body wants to be treated and what makes you happy you will start to worry less about what you look like because you are too busy just wanting to live.

My approach with my clients is less about deprivation and more about adding more and more good things into your life.  If you’d like to learn more about my approach, sign up for my free 3-part video series especially for women over 40. Learn to tone-up, eat to energise your body and how stress affects your midsection. You can sign up here.