Lifestyle Changes – KISS And DIGS!
By Dr David Robinson
Just last week another “expert” from another media publication was on a news morning show touting myriads of “Do’s” & “Dont’s” for “weight loss” and espousing people to first ask themselves numerous questions to determine if they are really “ready” to undertake lifestyle changes.
Why complicate making healthy lifestyle changes and bring psychology into it to determine if you are “really ready” to make such changes? This would scare most people away from even ever thinking about the subjects again!
From TV to radio to the internet, you are bombarded with every conceivable way to “lose weight” and every manner of “the newest, best way” to live a healthy lifestyle. All this stuff coming out of the walls must be spinning your heads. And I can’t say as I blame you. Every time you tune into your favorite electronic gismo, there’s some new “magic” product. It’s overwhelming. Even I am getting frustrated at this point! But, the alternative to NOT making such changes seems just a tad ominous: Don’t change and suffer from chronic illnesses and maybe even die early.
So let’s simplify and clarify. First, once and for all, dump, ditch, scuttle, scrap, banish, delete and for evermore get rid of the terms “weight loss” and “lose weight” from your vocabulary. Listen very closely. “WEIGHT LOSS” IS AN OBSOLETE TERM. FAT LOSS is proper… while maintaining (or gaining, if desired) lean muscle. You wanna turn heads? Then shock-n-awe your friends and family with results from making healthy lifestyle changes. This takes time but the results are LASTING. Lifetime.
Second, I have always and will always advocate lifestyle changes be done with two things in mind: K.I.S.S (KEEP IT SIMPLE STUPID) and D.I.G.S (DO IT GRADUALLY STUPID)
So let’s get down to the bottom line. The aspects of living healthy should be started in a SIMPLE manner. If you begin them GRADUALLY and build upon them, they will LAST a lifetime. For the sake of repetition – and start DOING not just reading – here is a condensed list:
- Proper Nutrition & Proper Supplementation. Follow the Harvard School of Public Health’s “New Food Pyramid”. Follow the Daily Value for all vitamins, minerals, amino acids and for good measure get a whole/green foods supplement.
- Proper Exercise/Fitness. This means getting a physical exam to get clearance from your doctor to begin and – here I go again, breaking from the pack – getting a fitness center membership and consulting with a fitness trainer, who is usually found in a fitness center or through referral from someone you know. Again, start gradually.
- Proper Sleep. Get 6 hours sleep per night absolute minimum. 7 hours sleep is preferable and 8 hours sleep per night is optimum.
- Mindfulness/Meditation. Learn about this if you need to. Start a program of regular meditation/mindfulness, gradually (there’s that word again) working up to 30 minutes per day.
- Recreation & Downshifting. Start to get into a hobby or interest and make a point of participating in it on a regular basis. Need I say, start gradually and build upon the time you spend to several hours each week? Also learn to slow your pace down by delegating chores to someone else; say “No” if it means saying “Yes” will cram your schedule; rise ½ – 1 hour earlier each morning; leave in time to arrive on time.
Just how is K.I.S.S. and D.I.G.S. accomplished?
Any lifestyle change should be done in a simple manner, making one change at a time and in a gradual manner, building upon each single change with another over a period of time. Walk before you run.
If you’re a neophyte at this (new to it), making multiple lifestyle changes all at once will overwhelm you and your body, and most probably get you frustrated and negative about such a massive shift from your “normal”. Remember, D.I.G.S (Do It Gradually Stupid). Give yourself and the body in which you live the ability to accept these changes easily and let them become lifetime habit-patterns.
Let me give you an example to start those changes with the most difficult to change: nutritional habit-patterns.
A healthy lifestyle begins with healthy fuel for the body. It’s very difficult to wean off of the great taste of the high fat and sugar foods, but those dogs are the foods that lead to fat in very noticeable areas on the body and some extremely important less noticeable areas inside the body.
I am not going to do what others in the industry do and spoon feed you (pun intended) a meal plan with what to eat each day. The really smart and simple way to transition your eating habits is to get ahold of the New Food Pyramid from the Harvard School of Public Health and follow its guidelines for what to eat.
Nor am I an advocate of counting calories or assigning points to food and counting them, far too much work. Remember K.I.S.S (Keep It Simple Stupid). Life is complicated enough and you’re busy enough already!
Let’s begin with breakfast. Start with one day a week, on Monday, by trading up to a healthy meal. For example oatmeal or high fiber, low sugar, unprocessed whole grain cereal with 1% milk or soy milk, or 1-2 slices of multi-grain, all natural toast with peanut butter, or 1-2 eggs on a slice of multi-grain toast. And 15 ounces of water with a lemon slice or all natural, unsweetened real juice. You can mix and match as you please, just be sensible with the portions and size of the meal.
The second week, add in a healthy breakfast for Wednesday, as well. Notice I skipped Tuesday? Remember, you want to do this gradually without shocking you or your body. This is a transition not shock-n-awe, not yet, anyway.
Week 3 add Friday as a healthy breakfast day. Then maintain the 3-day healthy breakfast for another week (4th week).
Now week 5 add Tuesday as a healthy breakfast day. Week 6, Thursday and Sunday are added. Now hold that Monday through Friday + Sunday healthy breakfasts for another week (week 7).
At this point you and your body have become used to your new breakfast habit-patterns as “normal”. Transition is adaptation and it’s what the body positively responds to the best.
Guess what’s next? Lunch habit-patterns! You know what to do. For example multi-grain sandwich with meat, lettuce, tomato, easy on the mayo and cheese or a multi-veggie tossed salad with grilled chicken or low fat, low sodium soup. Add 12 -15 ounces of water. Follow the same game plan for gradually making lunch a healthy meal over 7 weeks and don’t forget to continue with healthy breakfasts 5 days a week!
Then you’re on to making dinner healthy over the next 7 weeks in the same manner.
Saturday? Splurge a little! And you’ll notice that you really won’t want too much of that old high fat, high sugar stuff you used to eat, ‘cause you’ll find out after just one Saturday, that it will make you feel rather, oh, “totally ugh!” for lack of a better term.
Want a bit of a challenge? Once you’ve transitioned into your new nutritional habit-patterns, make these 3 meals a bit smaller and pop in an extra “healthy snacks” between breakfast and lunch, and, between lunch and dinner. There’s a little secret to this. It keeps the body’s metabolism higher and helps to burn a little extra fat, both nutritional and stored. But the snack has got to be healthy (low sugar & fat)!
So, over the course of 21 weeks (5 months + 1 week), you have completely changed (transitioned into, adapted to) your new nutrition without any cravings, frustrations or hassles. And, these new habit-patterns of healthy eating have become “normal”, a part of your lifestyle.
Too slow? Again, remember, D.I.G.S. To put it into a question in order to drive my point home: How many “diets” have you been through that have had little to no results because you got frustrated or sick of it and quit? That’s the “bail-n-fail” syndrome. That’s not what happens with this program.
By approaching changes in the way you eat in this manner, you don’t get overwhelmed, you avoid cravings and you and your body have sufficient time to adapt to this new healthy fuel. This is a transition for you and your body; you’re learning and acquiring new healthy tastes and habit-patterns. You’re learning to succeed at healthy nutrition.
So, Monday, you start!