Believe them when they say "It's not a diet, it's a lifestyle"

It's finally March, the snow is beginning to melt, and we hope that we have made it through the worst of the winter. Spring is in the air, and that means summer follows shortly after. We've all been there when May rolls around and we begin to realize that we'll need to be in a bathing suit in no time, so we throw out all the junk food in our house, cancel all social plans that involve drinking or eating for the foreseeable future, vow to never eat a cookie again, and join a gym that we know we'll probably never go to.

The motivation to lose weight lasts a few days, maybe even a few weeks if you're lucky, but then before you know it, you're back to your old habits of getting take out multiple times a week and spending all your free time in front of the TV. When you want to adopt a new healthy lifestyle, it is much better to make small changes gradually, instead of expecting to change your entire life overnight. Studies even show that crash diets and extreme changes to your eating habits will help you lose weight until you can't stick to them, and you end up gaining all the weight back and THEN SOME!

As humans, we tend to love routine, which means that it's hard to break all our bad habits at once. Like they say, it's not a diet, it's a lifestyle. Here are some tips that have helped my clients (and even myself) stick to a healthy lifestyle:

1. Set a realistic goal. Sit down and take some time to think about what goal you want to achieve. It could be losing 10 pounds by Canada Day, running your first 5K, or to get your cholesterol under control. Whatever it may be, just be sure it's realistic. Don't expect to lose 30 pounds in a week if you don't plan on cutting off your own leg.... (Note: we do NOT actually recommend this.)

2. Make drinking water a PRIORITY. Seems simple enough, but most people are dehydrated, and drinking more water will solve 99% of the world's problems. Just kidding... but it's important. Drink water upon waking up, carry a water bottle with you everywhere you go, set an alarm on your phone to drink a glass of water every 2 hours. Just do what you have to do, to drink more water.

3. For the first two weeks, only change ONE of your meals to something healthy and nutritious. If you are used to eating "less than perfect" three meals a day, then start with switching out one of them to something that's going to bring you closer to your goals. I suggest breakfast as it's the first meal of the day. Instead of sugary cereal, try rolled oats cooked in almond milk, and top it with fresh berries, cinnamon and a sprinkle of chia seeds. If you need something on the go, you can't go wrong with a green smoothie made with spinach, frozen berries, and some nut butter. Once you stick to this for two weeks, then switch out your lunch, then your dinner, and so on.

4. Ask someone to join you on this new healthy journey. Having support is one thing, but having someone to do this with you is even better! If one of you ever feels discouraged, you can just text the other for some motivation to stay on track. Or you could make a challenge for each other to reach your goal by a certain point - there's nothing wrong with a little competition!

5. Don't let yourself get too hungry. When you are starving, your blood sugar levels drop, leaving your tired, weak, and ready to eat just about anything. This also makes your body crave high sugar foods like sweets, pasta and breads and that's what we want to avoid. If you are in-between meals and wanting a snack, a handful of almonds, hard-boiled eggs or homemade energy balls are all great options.

6. Don't eat foods you hate. If the thought of kale or broccoli make you nauseous, you're in luck because there are 109849023 more healthy foods out there you could eat instead. Because you want this to be a lifestyle change, you don't want to force anything, and that includes forcing food down your own throat.

7. Accept the fact that you aren't going to reach your goal overnight, in a weekend, or possibly even a few weeks. Lasting change takes TIME. Don't get discouraged if you don't see the scale move for the first few weeks. Keep at it and you almost always will see progress.

Whatever your new found healthy diet, workout routine and regimen may be, hopefully these tips help you stick to it. Always remember, Rome wasn't built in a day!

- Amanda

*Amanda Bottiglia is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist, recipe developer, writer and social media enthusiast. She develops nutritional protocols and meal plans for clients to reach their health goals and teach them habits they can follow for life. Learn more about her and the services she offers on her website and be sure to follow her on Instagram.

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