Summer is here, and it would be amiss to say that none of us are thinking about “how we look or feel” in a swimsuit. It is completely acceptable to want to feel confident in your body, whatever that vision is for you, as long as it is done with a vision of health. Yet, this can be challenging when we are met with social expectations, vacations, and gatherings.
I used to struggle in the past balancing my “healthy” habits with participating in social events, building a relationship, and enjoying traditional holidays with family. What I perceived to be healthy choices were, in fact, restrictive choices that impeded my mental, emotional, social, and spiritual health. At Thanksgiving, I refused to eat some of my favorite foods, such as sweet potato casserole and even completely turned down dessert. Can you believe that I brought my own yogurt and berries to eat instead?
Because of these behavior patterns, my friend, coworkers, and family started to think that I would also then refuse to join them for parties or cocktail hours. They did not judge me but saw my choices as decisions to not participate and engage with them. My loved ones sometimes struggled to know what to cook for me for dinner when I visited. In turn, I avoided some social situations.
A major factor I did not recognize at the time was that health is multidimensional- food is only part of the picture. Laughter, hugs, talking with others, and a social network create psychological benefits that flow into physical health. The intricate mind-gut connection is an entirely different topic for another day, yet it cannot be ignored when considering nutrition.
Keeping these concepts in mind, how do we integrate our nutritional behaviors into positive social interactions while still pursuing our physical health goals?
- First, ask yourself: what are my physical health goals? Do you want to lose 10 pounds or do re-composition? Do you want to gain muscle?
- Next, explore the 5 Whys. Dig to the root of the desire. What does the goal get you? Does the weight loss simply make you look different? Alternatively, are you more physically able to move to play with your kids, have more energy, hike a mountain?
- How do other dimensions of health: mental, spiritual, social… play into my physical health goal?
- What actions will it take to achieve those physical health goals?
- How do these actions affect other areas of your life?
- What are non-negotiables that you are willing to give up achieving your goals?
- What are you not willing to give up maintaining other dimensions of health?
- Communicate openly with your friends, family, and coworkers about your goals.
- Apply the 90/10 rule for indulgences when achieving aggressive, short term goals.
- Indulgences are treats, not cheats.
- Understand that at some point, actionable steps transform into lifestyle choices. Subsequently, you will maintain a certain level of health through which you treat your body, heart, and mind with respect.
These are steps and concepts that are not easily processed alone. The nutrition coaches at Arsenal are eager and prepared to provide you with the care and attention you deserve to live your best life, confidently and healthfully. Reach out to schedule a meeting with us today!