Extreme Diets — And My 3 Tips for Health

Extreme Diets — And My 3 Tips for Health

A couple of days ago I was musing on health. Feeling great is really great. When you feel crappy, it’s hard to show up to life (or really anywhere).

I do think about health often. Maybe I’m crazy (a possibility!), or perhaps it’s because I treated my body like a garbage dump for a long time and got to intimately know that space (like “hello there, we’ve seen each other so many times I know what that glint in your eye means” intimate).

From knowing that space so well, I REALLY learned where I don’t want to be — and I know it takes regular practice for me to keep heading in a direction that leaves me feeling good. While I *know* I don’t want to feel like crap, the road to crap can be so, so seductive (siren song!). I’m learning to keep my ears and eyes open for the song so I can reroute.

I was thinking about the health coach training I took through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (a great course — if you’re interested in learning more, let me know).

The course itself was one of the biggest financial investments I’ve ever made in myself. I hesitated to bring it up with my husband (and it was the kind of thing we needed to talk about due to the financial aspect). Would the course be worth it? Was I worth it (and interesting this came up — a post for another day)? He was supportive, and somehow I knew this was the next right step for wherever I was going in life.

From the first day, I felt at home. Learning about different ways of eating spoke to me. Much rang true — some of it was common sense; other pieces differed greatly than what I’d learned over the years. Studying each morning became a strangely spiritual experience — I dived into my depths in ways I hadn’t anticipated.

Learning a lot of the dietary theory info was interesting, though many struck me as extreme. I wondered: were those measures really necessary for everyone?

Every lecturer had proof, passion, and real life examples. Most every talk left me thinking I needed to make major changes to my diet and daily doings. However, while I’d feel initially excited about each new idea, I found I didn’t (couldn’t) stick with any theory hook, line, and sinker.

While a part of me at the end of the course wanted to know why I hadn’t done more and done better (and why I was so lacking in willpower I couldn’t follow the raw vegan diet or macrobiotics or Ayurveda lifestyle for more than 5 minutes before I was failing in some way??), I somehow knew that going to any extreme was probably not going to work or be better for me. Maybe, just maybe, I needed to go the route that seemed doable for me.

Now, I’m not dinging any specific theory. Sometimes they may be just what is needed for someone. I think what we eat and drink (and how we’re taking care of ourselves) has immense power lead to much healing for a lot of stuff. And in some situations, it very much behooves us to be very specific and regimented in what we’re eating.

However, perhaps all cases don’t require extreme measures; perhaps small efforts will take many of us a long way (or all of the way) to where we want to go.

An interesting thing I noticed about the dietary theories I studied: they all share a common underlying theme — eat real food, drink water, move, sleep. While the specifics differed, this was pretty much the general message. Hmmm…what if I focused on this theme as my approach rather than a “must do all of these things or bust” approach?

I’ve found if I focus on the theme, I end up feeling quite good. Yes, at times I may need more of one thing and less of another. However, if I’m paying attention to my body, I can shift pretty quickly when needed. And if I stick with the general message, I’m in good shape with a strong baseline.

If you’re focusing on health in 2017 and struggling to find a place to start that feels doable, what about ditching the extreme measures for right now? Maybe the path to a body that feels actually good doesn’t have to be hard, complicated, wildly expensive, or a drag. Perhaps starting with a small change is perfect and enough.

In this vein, I send a hug and offer a few things I’ve found helpful:

    1. Read food labels & look for ingredients you know: Check out the ingredient list rather than the caloric info. Can you read the actual ingredients and know what they are without a dictionary? If you need help to understand what the list includes, perhaps the food item is something to leave on the shelf.
    2.  KISS: Keep It Super Simple (or, if you like: Keep It Simple, Stupid). It can be easy to get sucked into thinking you *should* prepare the beautiful meals you see in magazines and/or online. YOU DON’T NEED TO (unless you really want to). Keep it easy and simple, seriously. Some of my favorite go-to meals are very deconstructed: sliced fruit, a scoop of frozen veggies (warmed up, unless you like them cold), a scoop of some kind of grain or bean (hurray for chickpeas!), and some kind of fat (say chunks of avocado and/or a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil). If I’m feeling fancy, I’ll mix them together and add a drizzle of balsamic or red wine vinegar (or put some in a cup on the side for dipping — my kids love dipping sauce).
    3. One thing at a time: Trying to upgrade what you buy? Go for one thing at a time. I’m not one who can throw out everything in my pantry in one weekend. Rather, buying a different cereal the next time I need to buy cereal, and then real maple syrup the next time I need syrup for waffles and pancakes, and then … is my route for successfully upgrading my pantry and fridge – way more doable for me than throwing everything out in one go (and then freaking out, shutting down, and deciding the whole health thing is too much work).

If you’d like more food for thought, check out these posts:

The Definition of Health
1 Tip for Better Health: UPGRADE
Badassing It with Baby Steps
10 Superman Raises
Let’s Set the Bar Low, Low, Low

Great health is really great. It makes life a lot easier. And we can do it.

Thoughts, comments, ahas? Let me know in the comments below. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *