By Isabel Smith, MS, RD, CDN
All health coaches, nutritionists and wellness practitioners share different pieces of advice with their clients to help them be successful at achieving their health goals. Navigating lifestyle changes can be tough for anyone and regardless of who you are, and how much experience you have with making changes, at some point we all need a little cheering on. I find that as a nutritionist, it’s a lot more about guiding my clients and Guided Reboot participants to help them make their healthy living changes than it is about just telling them what to do. In the end, when making any kind of change, the onus really is on us, and we certainly have to decide to be ready to make the change.
The advice I find most successful, is helping clients recognize why they want to make the change in their lifestyle, guide them in setting up their environment for success, and finally promoting self-love and compassion.
Here are a few key tips that I often tell clients and Rebooters to help promote healthy change and self compassion:
This is the first and most important place to start when it comes to making any lifestyle change. We must start with our “why” because without it we can get lost in our mission to achieve our goals (whatever they may be). Sometimes this step takes a little soul searching, because often the initial reason you started your weight loss journey (which may have been for vanity) might not be enough to keep you in the game. Once you find your why, write it down or keep it top of mind because at some point you’ll need a healthy reminder of why you embarked on this sometimes seemingly impossible journey.
We can’t expect to keep our hand out of the cookie jar if the jar is still filled with cookies and sitting on the counter right in front of you. No way, no how. Instead, I encourage my clients and Rebooters to either get rid of the stuff that is oh-so-tempting, or simply to put it out of site (or at least somewhere that it’s less tempting). When things become harder for us to reach- i.e. the cookies, we often do a better job of avoiding them.
Trusting in the process is key. When I find that clients are impatient with the process and don’t trust in the guidance they’re being given, it’s much harder for them to be successful. Although the going may be slow at times, it’s so important to trust that it’s the right thing – unless it feels terribly wrong, then speak up. And remember the saying, ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’, so allow for the process to take some time. In fact, the longer it takes to be successful, usually the longer the success lasts for.
Guilt gets us nowhere. Absolutely nowhere. In fact, holding onto guilt can throw us totally off track. For example, if a client or Rebooter eats something at a gathering (or anytime) that they don’t plan on having, it’s much more detrimental to hang onto the guilt from eating whatever it was than it is to let it go. Having one less-than-perfect choice on one occasion is far less offensive than feeling guilty, which can lead to making choices out of line with any plan. In short, let go of the guilt and remember that you’re a human, we’re not perfect! Here tips for getting back on track if you find yourself slipping.
Practicing self-love is another key aspect to any successful and health-promoting journey. We have to be kind to ourselves, put ourselves up instead of down, and stop ourselves from negative self-talk; in the end it gets us nowhere. Start with 1-2 minutes daily of talking nicely to yourself; tell yourself something that you’re proud of. A little self-recognition goes a long way.
I often find that many of us feel guilty about taking time to focus on ourselves, but truly we can’t be successful at caring for others if we’re not healthy and well ourselves. This is absolutely crucial. It’s key to let go of the guilt, and realize that in order to be our best self, to take the best care, we must make time to focus on ourselves.
Finally, this one is pretty self-explanatory, don’t give up! The only way to really not be successful at making your changes is to get thrown off track and not able to get back on the wagon. Learning to get back on the wagon to push forward gets easier and easier each and every time we fall off. Over time we get more successful at putting setbacks behind us, and moving forward to achieve our goals. So keep on trying!
Although the road can seem long, it’s so key to love yourself, and love the process of making healthy lifestyle changes. I truly do find that the statement, love the process and it will love you back, to be true. I see more success out of clients and Rebooters who are patient, kind to themselves, curious and invested in the process and in it for their whyto be more successful and able to stick it out longer.