By Shannon Leavitt, M.S., R.D.
It’s no secret that modern life makes it tough to ignore popular food trends and lead a healthy lifestyle. Today, being sedentary and consuming the food industry’s addictive combinations of fat, salt, and sugar is simply easier than being active and preparing or procuring healthy food. It doesn’t help that we are continuously subjected to double messages about body image and health that are disheartening and confusing and result in either a desperation to change or passivity. The message to look like a model clashes with the fact that being out of shape is the new normal.
It’s easy to be seduced by the latest fast fitness or diet plans that are peddled in the guise of a real solution, even though, as is widely known, these programs are rarely effective and sometimes even harmful. The highest goal of a wellness plan needs to go beyond just losing pounds to learning the lifestyle that will improve your health and keep weight off for good.
Here are four steps to becoming leaner in 2017 and for life:
- Embrace a holistic lifestyle. A holistic lifestyle focuses on health first, weight loss second, and is the only sensible approach to lasting results. Creating health needs to be a conscious process, a lifestyle, not a short-lived program. Holism is about balanced living. It is the necessarily slower approach that works better than ‘fast fitness’ because it gradually brings more of you on board with a realistic plan and teaches you how to sustain your results.
- Stop living in Overdrive Mode. Rushing and multitasking are stressful and too often result in reactive and unconscious, unhealthy choices. Slowing down encourages a deeper self-connection that in the long run helps you identify problematic habits, make more conscious choices, and ultimately overcome obstacles. Take a minute to ask yourself whether how you typically spend your time is moving you towards health or in the opposite direction.
- Support Yourself. When it comes to reaching health goals research shows that supporting yourself with a ‘kind to self’ approach is more effective than a ‘tough on self’ approach. So don’t make the harsh mistake of withholding self-love and acceptance until you’ve arrived at what you consider to be an acceptable body size or fitness level. There is much to be learned about your self from where you are currently, and a compassionate ear is more likely to be open to receive that important wisdom.
- Do Yoga. Often underestimated as a weight loss tool, yoga is the epitome of holistic living and therefore a viable path to sustainable weight loss. The ancient, yet, accessible practice offers both challenging fitness and a body-mind-spirit integration system complete with pragmatic guidelines for balanced living. As yoga strengthens, stretches and twists you into amazing shape, the “on and off the mat” practice combination aligns you with your strongest Self to provide a slow but sure pathway out of old habits toward healthier, new ones.
Most get fit quick workout and diet plans end in frustration, rebound weight gain and a compromised metabolism. Accept that there are no short cuts to true health, but that there are wise paths. Holistic living is one of them.
Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Shannon Leavitt, M.S., R.D. Based in Minneapolis, Shannon is the founder of Yogalift®, a holistic wellness program, and author of Learn to be Lean: A Yoga-Based Approach to Healthy Weight Loss. She is a licensed dietitian, hatha yoga instructor, NASM-certified personal trainer, and a professional health coach with a certificate from the University of Minnesota’s Center for Spirituality and Healing.
Photo credit: lululemon on Instagram