Many athletes recognize the power of food as fuel, and value the true reason of why we eat to nourish our bodies. Adopt a mindset that will help you approach goal setting, habit formation, and pursuing a healthy lifestyle.
When it comes to your health, let’s first define your “why”.
Clearly defining your “why” is a crucial first step to take. It serves as a constant reminder that gives your path a meaningful purpose and pushes you forward during times of adversity. Wanting to fit into those skinny jeans or get bikini-ready often aren’t profound enough reasons to fuel a lifelong commitment of pursuing optimal wellbeing. It takes a significant “why” — something that resonates with the core of your soul — to truly turn hopes, wishes, wants, and dreams into a lasting reality.
Put it into practice: Before anything, take a moment to self reflect. What are some of your most important values and ambitions? How will achieving optimal health support you in achieving your life’s ambitions? Whatever the link is, that is your “why.”
If “family” is your value then your “why” is about how taking care of yourself allows you to take better care of your family. Your health will bring you energy, longevity, and wellbeing so that you can support your family to your greatest potential.
Athletes are excellent goal setters because they set goals without finish lines — pushing boundaries and excelling beyond their potential. The flaw with “finish line goals” is this: When we set goals with a finish line, whether it’s completing a race or hitting a number on the scale, what happens when we get there? Is it game over? That’s how complacency is born.
Sure, athletes use milestones and stats to measure progress along the way, but their long-term goal is always to achieve their personal best. And because greatness has no limit, the focus shifts away from metrics and instead the emphasis is placed on the small details that foster improvement day in and day out.
Put it into practice: Instead of setting a weight loss goal, focus on the tiny habits that nourish your body with the nutrition it needs to achieve optimal health. Rather than getting caught up in counting calories, you’ll find yourself focusing on more meaningful and effective behaviors like preparing veggie-centric meals or drinking plenty of water throughout the day. Soon enough, you’ll be actively maintaining the healthiest version of yourself.
The Power of Habits.
How do athletes continue to grow and improve? They practice. Whether it takes the form of drills, training, or running through plays, practice is the perfect example of how habits work. Habits build muscle memory, automation, efficiency, confidence, and momentum. And after a while, your effort becomes instinct. Just like an arm muscle, the more you “exercise a habit” the stronger and more resilient it becomes.
Put it into practice: Identify two or three simple, healthy habits that you can practice regularly. Repeat, repeat, repeat, and soon enough this habit will be embedded into your normal routine. After about three weeks of consistent repetition, what once took a focused effort will soon become second nature.
- Habit: Batch cook every Sunday for an hour
- Habit: Drink a glass of water before each meal
- Habit: Pack your lunch every night after dinner
Athletes recognize that competition is inevitably full of mistakes, but it’s how you recover that matters most. When one play goes awry, they don’t throw in the towel. They focus on the next play.
Put it into Practice: Recognizing perfection doesn’t exist is the first step to preventing the “all or nothing” trap, also known as the “What the hell effect”. We’ve all had those moments when one poor food choice spirals out of control into another. This type of mentality is detrimental to your goals. Rather than letting one tiny deviation open the floodgates to mindless eating , own it, learn from it, and move on. Did donuts get the best of you this morning? Seize the opportunity to make a healthier choice at lunch. A comeback victory is always possible.
Athletes know how to celebrate a win. Athletes understand how important it is to be present and feel a victory in every cell of their body. Savoring success and storing a vivid memory of the emotion it brings you is crucial for developing a craving for subsequent victories to follow.
Put it into practice: Revel in your success and remember how great you feel when you treat your body well. Savor the healthy choices and victories you achieve along the way, and capture the positive emotions they bring you. Maybe you feel stronger, lighter, and more energetic. Maybe you feel balanced and at peace. Whatever it is, try to tap into that “feel good moment” whenever the next opportunity to make a food decision comes your way. Sure, you can reward yourself with a new pair of Lululemon leggings, but celebrating internally is what will make you into a true healthy living champion!
Adapted from the original article.
Lindsey Kane, MS, RD, LDN is a San Francisco-based Registered Dietitian helping others live a stress-free, balanced, and thriving life. By getting to know her clients inside and out, Lindsey identifies the opportunities within their everyday lifestyle to integrate subtle changes that create lasting, impactful results. Learn more at Bite For Change.