The Five Most Common Mistakes People Make When Trying To Get Healthy + How To Overcome Them
As a certified holistic health coach (CHHC) and the founder of So Fresh N So Green my role is to help clients sift through all the “nutrition noise” out there in order to figure out what foods and lifestyle choices work best for their individual bodies, empowering them to live their happiest, healthiest lives.
But in today’s world we are inundated with confusing and mixed marketing messages (i.e. coconut oil is good for you — scratch that it’s now THE WORST) and as a result most people simply don’t know what to believe when it comes to their health. The problem with this is we end up following fad diets or copying what we’ve heard works for others instead of tuning into our own physical, emotional, and mental cues and figuring out what works best for US.
Through my years as a nutrition and healthy lifestyle coach I’ve experienced first-hand the stress and confusion my clients experience around what they should be doing to feel and look their best. For the most part they just want some guidance and to feel they’re doing the right thing, instead of stressing out about it and feeling incredibly lost. While each person has a unique genetic makeup, lifestyle, preferences, mindset, environment, stress threshold, gut micro biome, etc. — there are still some common mistakes I see people make on their quest to getting healthy — and I want to make sure you don’t fall victim to these pitfalls.
Thus I’m sharing with you the five most common mistakes I see people make when trying to get healthy + what to actually do about it:
THEY FOLLOW DIETS —
Have you ever tried a diet to lose weight (or know anyone else who has), only to eventually gain it all back? That’s because diets are effective at helping you lose weight, not keeping weight off for good (in fact 95% of dieters will gain the weight they lost back within 1-5 years). Diets are rooted in restriction and deprivation and as humans hard-wired to crave pleasure, this is not sustainable. Which is great for the $66 billion diet industry, which depends on your repeat business to thrive, if you get what I’m saying.
Another problem with a diet or weight-loss program is traditionally by the end of the program, people have lost weight but haven’t established any new lifestyle habits to help them maintain it. Once they’ve lost the weight and no longer need to follow the plan, they soon realize that weight maintenance is hard and it’s too easy to go back to old habits, risking weight gain.
Diet’s just simply don’t address the root cause or the bigger picture, and can ultimately perpetuate an unhealthy relationship to food. Every person on this planet is unique and what works for one person or helps one person feel good may not do the same for someone else.
They also keep you stuck and focused on the rules of the diet, instead of tuning into your own body, how you feel and if you’re actually digesting certain foods well. And they certainly don’t teach you how to eat in real life so that when you’re traveling, attending work functions or enjoying happy hour/dinner out you are able to navigate these everyday situations and actually enjoy them (without food controlling the situation).
If you don’t take the time to examine why you’re engaging in eating behaviors in the first place, you’re going to constantly be repeating the same patterns over and over. Start by practicing more mindful eating and tuning into your own body. Before each meal or snack try asking yourself one of the following questions:
- + What am I eating? (is it processed, did it come from a factory, was it grown in your garden, etc)
- + Why am I eating it? (are you bored, do you want comfort, need energy or are you actually physiologically hungry)
- + How does it make you feel before/during/after? (i.e. eating that donut tastes and feels amazing while you’re eating it but 15 minutes later not so much)
- + When am I eating? (during an afternoon slump at work, at home with my family, running out the door on the way to work)?
- + Who am I eating with? (am I sharing meals with family, friends — do they influence what I eat?)
- + Where am I eating? (at the dinner table, in front of my computer, etc.)
Pausing before meals to ask yourself these questions is the first step in becoming more aware of your eating patterns and behaviors and how they affect your health.
THEY’RE OBSESSED WITH WHAT OTHERS ARE DOING OR HEALTHY TRENDS/FADS —
I see this often — I’m even guilty of it myself (I get giddy reading those articles detailing what people stock in their fridge). Again I want to emphasize that every person is so unique and what works for one person might not work for another — because of food sensitivities, hormonal imbalances, autoimmune conditions or underlying gut problems, I see many clients with the intention to eat healthy but they’re unintentionally stressing out their own bodies as a result.
- + Begin to practice mindfulness by asking yourself the questions outlined in #1
- + Seek out a naturopathic practitioner (I have some amazing local recs if you need!) who can administer tests to truly find out the types of food best for your body
- + Or try an at-home test kit that can effectively evaluate your DNA, gut microbiome, etc. such as like Habit or 23andme
- + Work with a nutrition coach on tuning into your internal cues so that you become the authority and expert on your own body, not someone else
THEY TRY AND TEACH THEMSELVES —
Why is it often such a struggle to get to the gym in the morning but when it comes to finishing up that big work project for your boss you always follow through? It often times boils down to accountability, and unfortunately there’s usually no-one else to hold us accountable for taking care of ourselves!
On the other hand, if you’ve paid for a personal trainer or promised a friend you’d meet them at the gym the next morning you’re much more likely to show up — am I right?!
Often times people just need an accountability partner (especially when going through a big lifestyle change), someone who’s going to be there to support and guide them through the process and devise ways to help them achieve their goals. Accountability is critical to making a change that really lasts.
Make a list of your goals around health and wellness and share it with someone you love and trust. Ask them to partner with you or hold you accountable on your intentions. Set a reward (non-food related) if you follow through.
If this doesn’t seem like the right step for you (it can sometimes be tricky with finding the right accountability partner within your personal network) look into hiring a nutrition coach, personal trainer, life coach, therapist, or other health and wellness professional that will be able to hold you accountable and support you in reaching your goals.
THEY FOCUS ON QUANTITY OVER QUALITY —
I hear this one from clients, friends and family all.the.time. They think if they just eat less or were better at portion control the problem would be solved. But what you eat is so much more important than how much you eat, and your fork can either be used as a vehicle for healing or the reason for your illness in the first place. Food has an undeniable, direct and tangible influence on all of your body’s functions. Eating optimal foods for your body can give a major boost to your energy, appearance, emotional state and even sex drive. Eating foods that don’t jive well with your body can set you up for acne, weight gain, irregular and unbalanced hormones, mood swings and depression. It’s so much more complex than calories in/calories out.
Instead of counting calories or labeling foods as good or bad, simply start focusing on incorporating more real food into your diet. Any food that has a one-word label or ingredient is typically a real, whole food (i.e. banana, broccoli, chicken, etc. ) Any food that has a nutrition label is a processed food. Sometimes these additional ingredients contribute to the health of the food (such as certain spices or vitamins/minerals) but most of the time the ingredients are taking away from the health of the food (like sugar, MSG, oxidized vegetable oils, chemicals, etc.)
Try and eat as many real, whole foods as possible and religiously begin reading nutrition labels on all other food products. If there’s a long list of ingredients you can’t pronounce or don’t recognize, chances are your body won’t know what to do with them either, so try and steer clear when possible. Most importantly, don’t forget to pay attention to how YOU feel when eating them!
THEY UNDER-EXERCISE/ OVER-EXERCISE —
I am a huge proponent of daily movement — I love it and firmly believe it’s an important part of any wellness routine. But I’ve had quite a few clients over-exercise in an effort to lose weight, which actually increases inflammation in the body and affects their immune system, stalling weight loss and contributing to added stress and adrenal fatigue.
On the flipside of the coin — I also have clients who don’t exercise enough because they force themselves to do workouts they absolutely hate. If you don’t love doing something and it’s not rooted in positivity, it’s most likely not going to be a habit you can sustainably build into your lifestyle.
Think of the activities you enjoy that incorporate movement but don’t necessarily feel like exercise or a forced workout. Do you love hiking with your dog or gardening/ working on your yard? Playing with your kids? Figure out what these activities are and find ways to build them into your schedule more often.
If you find yourself working out daily and feeling exhausted constantly, try and build in a day or two of recovery into your schedule. While it seems counter-intuitive, over-stressing your body with too much exercise leads to an increase in the hormone cortisol, which causes you to store more fat instead of burn it. If you go crazy without daily activity try to incorporate more gentle forms of exercise into your routine like yoga, walking or pilates.
Did any of these common mistakes ring true for you? If so I’d love to know if you found these tips helpful or other healthy habits you’ve built into your lifestyle that have helped you overcome these pitfalls.
If you feel you may need additional support in one or more of these areas I’d love to help you in any way I can. I offer 30-minute complimentary nutrition consultations — just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a time to chat.
*IMPORTANT + TIME SENSITIVE NOTE* I’ll be on maternity leave beginning October and have 3 spots currently available for my most popular 12-week coaching program. If you are interested don’t hesitate to reach out as time/space is limited (I will stop accepting 12-week clients beginning July).
Cheers to a happy and healthy summer!