Ep #61: 6 Simple Habits to Change Your Health

Strong as a Working Mom with Carrie Holland | 6 Simple Habits to Change Your Health
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I recently heard from a listener who wants to get healthy. They know they aren’t where they want to be, but whenever they think about changing their habits, they become overwhelmed and don’t know where to start. I know that many people face this problem, and I’m here to help you overcome it so you can start getting healthy right now.

Changing up your life isn’t easy, that’s often what prevents people from getting started. But there are things you can start doing right now to begin changing your life, and if you can implement just one of the suggestions that I’m sharing with you in this episode, you’ll be on the path to creating real long-term change around your health, weight, and strength.

If you have no idea where to start when it comes to making a change in your life, I’ve got you. This week, I’m sharing 6 super-simple habits that you can start implementing today, so you can begin losing weight and sustainably living a healthier life, both now and in the future.

Are you ready to eat, move, and think in a way that gets you strong both physically and mentally? You deserve to have both no matter how busy you are, and I can help. I’m opening up my one-on-one coaching program for new clients, and I would love to work with you. Click here to learn more about working with me.

Be sure to tag me on Instagram or Facebook so I can follow along and engage with you!

What You Will Discover:

  • Why you don’t need to change everything in your life at once to start living a healthier lifestyle.
  • How too many people end up in a cycle of yo-yo dieting due to overly strict diet or exercise plans.
  • Why losing weight sustainably is about long-term habits, not a diet you go on and off of.
  • 6 habits you can adopt right now to start changing your life today.
  • The science behind why these simple habits will help you lose weight sustainably.
  • My tips for building a healthy, filling salad, instead of eating lettuce and getting hangry later.
  • How to implement these 6 habits today and start losing weight sustainably.

Listen to the Full Episode:

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Featured on the Show:

Full Episode Transcript:

You are listening to the Strong as a Working Mom podcast, Episode #61. If you have no idea where to start in order to get healthy, try any one of these ideas.

Welcome to the Strong as a Working Mom podcast. If you’re balancing career, family, wellness, and some days sanity, you are in the right place. This is where high-achieving, busy, working moms get the tools they need to eat, move, and think. I’m your host, physician, personal trainer, and Certified Life Coach, Carrie Holland. Let’s do this.

Hey, how are you? What’s new, what’s good? So, what’s good here, today, I’m going to give you some suggestions about things you can do right now to start changing your life. This episode comes in direct response to a listener who emailed and said, “I want to get healthy, because I know I’m not where I want to be. But whenever I think about changing my habits, I get totally overwhelmed and then I do nothing. I don’t know where to start.”

I love this question so much that I decided to run with it and make it into an entire podcast. If you are in the same boat with this listener, I hope the ideas I suggest today will help you. Changing up your life is not easy, right? And that’s just it, we know that change isn’t easy, and because of that I am not asking you to upend your life in order to get healthy, because it won’t last.

For most people big, broad sweeping change just doesn’t work. But so many of you have tried that. You’ve tried cutting out entire food groups. You’ve tried crazy, restrictive diets. You started challenges or programs. You started super high intensity exercise regimens after being sedentary for years.

These extreme diets, extreme challenges and extreme exercise regimens, they all promise results; they promise fast results. That’s very enticing. It’s sexy. It can make you think, “If I can just do this and hold on, I will lose the weight. I will get in shape. Things will feel better.”

But then things get hard. Restriction turns into feeling deprived. You start to crave carbs and want bread. You finish out the 60-day challenge using willpower but deep down, you know those are habits you can’t or don’t plan to sustain. It makes total sense that you would feel that way. Because most of us don’t do well with extremes.

But then you’re left with a decision, you have to decide ‘now what’ and determine if you’re going to keep up with whatever plan you’ve put in place. But too often that diet or exercise plan you’ve taken on is too much. It’s too strict. It’s too complicated. It’s too unrealistic. And ultimately, it doesn’t work.

I’ve seen this too much and too often. This is what results in that lose/gain cycle or yo-yo dieting. Yo-yo dieting is a result of choosing a diet that does not fit with your life. That may be oversimplifying, but too often you think that finding a new diet, and then inserting your life into that new diet, is the way to go. When really, it’s the reverse.

Consider your life, your schedule, your routine, your family, your career, all of it. Consider all of it, and then find a way of eating that fits into your life. Do you see that it’s the reverse? Whatever way you choose to eat should not be running the show. It should not be running your life. Instead, however you eat should fit nicely into your already busy, full life. There’s a big, big difference there.

If you need more reason to take this approach, let me offer you this. This comes up all the time. I want to bust this down, right here and right now, the diet that you think you need to go back to for the second or third or fourth time because it worked for you in the past, don’t go there. Don’t go back to that diet. Okay?

Do you see the contradiction here? If you think that in order to succeed at changing your habits or losing weight that you need to go back to Keto for the third time, or go back to Weight Watchers, or do yet another round of Whole 30, no.

Do you see that? When you tell me that you need to go back to whatever diet you did in the past because it worked before, I would ask if that’s really true. Did Keto really work for you, if after one year you stopped, reintroduced carbs because you like them and you want to eat them, and then gained all the weight back?

Did intermittent fasting really work for you, if after six months, you brought breakfast back into your schedule, and you regained all the weight? Just cutting out entire food groups for a certain amount of time, only to rebound and overdo it, does that really work for you?

So, I would argue that, no, those diets did not in fact work for you. Because if they worked, you wouldn’t have stopped them. You wouldn’t be considering restarting them. If it works, you don’t stop and restart it. That’s just it. Remember, you’re not looking for the right diet. You’re not looking for the latest diet trend. If you want to stop yo-yo dieting and stop gaining and losing the same 20 or 30 pounds, it goes far, far beyond a diet, okay?

Instead, if you want to succeed, look for the habits and look for a way of eating that you do repeatedly, even on your worst days, that will stick with you for the long haul so your reach your health and fitness goals, that is huge. If you tell me, “Every time I do such and such diet, it works,” I will politely disagree with you by nature of what you just told me.

So, one, we’re not looking at a diet, we’re looking for a way of eating that matches with your goals and preferences and routines. Then on a broader level, we’re looking for habits, not a diet. And two, we’re not looking for a short-term fix here, we’re looking for changes that you can make and stick with for the long term.

We’re not talking about something you go on and something you go off, we’re talking about adopting a lifestyle, adopting a way of living that is just how you roll, it’s how you do. I’ll even hear it in some of my clients. Sometimes, during our sessions, she’ll say, “This time, I’m sticking with breakfast because last time it didn’t work. This time I’m eating more fruit, because I was told before that fruit is bad and I shouldn’t eat it.”

It’s that term “this time,” every single time I hear that I think in my head, and will say out loud to my clients, that the goal is that there is no more “this time,” no more of that. Instead, the goal is to make this the last time you have to think about losing weight and keeping it off. Because the idea is to choose habits that you can sustain.

We’re not talking about going on or going off a diet. We are not stopping and starting a challenge. We’re talking about changing the way you live. We’re talking about creating a lifestyle. This process and what I’m about is not about a diet. This is about making over your habits to build a lifestyle that helps you achieve your health and fitness goals.

Because I’ve said it before, and I think it bears repeating, you are never done. Remember, what got you there will keep you there. So, whatever it is that you have to do in order to lose the weight in the first place is the same thing you’ll need to do in order to keep that weight off for the long term. There is no point at which you can stop with those habits and expect that your weight will stay the same.

I know that’s hard to hear, but I want to be straight with you and keep it real. Your lifestyle is a process, not an outcome. Your lifestyle is a process, an accumulation of loads of decisions made over time, that adds up to give you your result. And that result is the physical body you have, plus the level of health, strength, and fitness you have.

Those are the results or the outcome of your lifestyle, okay? If you accept what I’m saying, then you’ll set yourself up for success by focusing on habits and behaviors that shape your lifestyle. You focus on habits that you can do repeatedly, for forever.

Maybe that’s drastic, but the whole point here is for you to not feel like you’re on a diet for the rest of your life. That is not the goal at all. Instead, I’m asking for you to come to terms with the idea that if you want to live in the body you want, and you want to lose the weight and keep it off and be physically active and feel good, you will need to change your habits.

There is no shortcut. There is no temporary fix. These changes are meant to be lifelong. These changes are meant to be your new lifestyle, do you see that? These changes are supposed to last you for life. But I get it, when we’re talking lifelong, that’s big, that’s a long time.

It may be hard to commit to something like Keto or intermittent fasting or exercising for the rest of your life. Maybe some of you can do that. Maybe for some of you make that decision once, “I am choosing not to eat carbs,” and then deciding not to decide anymore. That may work for you. It may be that you found a way of eating and moving that works for your life.

But if an extreme approach has not worked for you in the past, I want to offer you some ideas. You do not need to rip the band-aid off in order to create meaningful lifestyle change. You don’t have to be drastic in order to lose weight, eat healthy, or incorporate more movement into your life.

So, here it is, I’m offering you multiple different habits that you can adopt today, as in right now, in order to start changing your life. These are all relatively small behaviors, but if you repeat them over time, they will give you results. These are behaviors that are meant to be part of your new lifestyle. They’re habits that are designed to be part of the process of giving you better health, fitness, or weight loss, whatever your goal is.

I’ll be the first to admit none of these are wild. None of these are fancy. And that is exactly the point. That is exactly why I’m suggesting that you, if you were to choose any one of these habits, and if you were to do any of these with 80 to 90% consistency over the next month even, I’ll make a bet that you’ll feel better.

But more importantly, if you consider taking on any of these habits, I’m encouraging you to consider how you can make these a regular part of your life. How can these become part of your routine? So, as you listen to each of these suggestions, think about how incorporating any one of these into your life could make a difference. All right? So, let’s go.

First, the first thing you can do to start change in your life today is to replace your processed snacks with real, whole foods. Just start with one. Replace one processed food snack with something that is a real, whole food. We can most definitely get into snacks and grazing and insulin on another podcast, because I think that, in and of itself, is an important concept to cover. But for today, if you’re someone who has three meals and two snacks, or three meals and one snack, or if you have dinner, and then a few hours later you go back to the pantry for a post dinner snack that consists of ultra processed stuff like cookies, or chips or candy, consider shaking that up.

Imagine what would happen if you replaced one processed food snack with a real, whole food based snack? If you took your usual snack of pretzel Thins and a Coke and replaced it with Greek yogurt and berries, or veggies with hummus, or an apple and peanut butter.

So, a couple things will happen when you do this. Depending on the type of snack you’re replacing, when you choose a whole food based snack, you will likely have less of a blood sugar spike and a crash. I’ve mentioned this many, many times. But when you eat snacks that are ultra processed, often what you’re getting is a huge load of refined flour and sugar. That will send your blood sugar sky high only to crash it shortly after, which will leave you reaching for more food.

Whole foods, like apples and peanut butter or Greek yogurt, they don’t have that same impact on your blood sugar. They won’t cause you to crash and be hangry for more. They keep your blood sugar more stable. Then second, most ultra processed foods are calorie dense. In some cases, you will eat more calories from having one granola bar than you would from a piece of fruit plus string cheese plus nuts.

So, from a weight loss perspective, when you replace your processed foods snacks with real, whole foods, you will most likely be taking in less calories. When you choose whole food based snacks instead of processed ones, you will most likely be taking in more vitamins, nutrients and minerals than their ultra processed counterparts; potentially, more fiber too if you choose fruit and veggies.

You will also be helping out your gut. So, I’m sure you’ve probably heard the term “gut microbiome.” Your gut microbiome is a collection of all the microorganisms in your intestines. It affects the absorption and digestibility of the calories you eat. It plays a role in your overall health by impacting your immune system and how your body responds to infection.

We’re learning more and more about the gut microbiome and its intersection with ultra processed foods and obesity, and it is fascinating. What we’re starting to see is that the gut microbiomes of people who eat a largely ultra processed food diet are different from the microbiomes of people who eat a more whole foods diet.

But beyond that, the other really interesting thing that we’re seeing is that in people who eat a largely processed food diet, their gut microbes are extracting and absorbing more energy from the food they eat. The microbes are promoting increased caloric extraction from the food they come in contact with.

So, I’m getting nerdy here, but the research is really, really interesting. This is not the last you’ll hear about the gut microbiome, okay? The point here is that substituting whole foods for your ultra processed foods snacks will most definitely change up your gut microbiome. And this will impact how much energy, in the form of calories, those microbes absorb from your food. This is so cool.

There are many, many other benefits of replacing your ultra processed food snacks with real, whole foods. But I want to keep this podcast at 30 minutes, like I promised. Okay. Again, the point here is that this is not wild.

I’m not telling you to stop snacking altogether. I’m not asking you to become vegan. I’m asking if you can skip buying the bag of pretzels this week at the grocery store and have an apple and stringy cheese instead. This is not huge. It is not insurmountable, and you can absolutely do that.

All right, next, the next thing you can do now to help change your life, is to start going out to eat one less time per week, just one. When you choose to have a meal that you make at home, instead of going out to eat again, you’ll most likely be taking in more vitamins and nutrients and less calories.

When I was preparing for this podcast, I looked it up and found that the average American eats out anywhere from four to six times per week. Plus, it’s no secret that most meals you get from either takeout fast food or at a sit-down restaurant, they are generally larger portions than you’d have at home.

On top of that, you have no control of what is going on your food, especially the amount of sugar, salt, fat and butter that goes into it, which is typically also more than you would have at home. So, take those two together, the increased portion size plus the added stuff like sugar, salt, and fat, and you’ve got a set-up for a problem.

There was a study published in 2016 and it suggested that the average restaurant meal contains about 1200 calories, and that’s just the average. Some were much, much more than that. This was true for both chain restaurants and non-chain restaurants.

So, imagine you go out for meals multiple times in a week and eat an average of 1200 calories when you go out each time. Even if you were to eat on your plan for the remaining meals, you’re likely going to be eating way more food than your body needs, simply from the added calories of your restaurant meals.

Now imagine what would happen if you decided to eat out just one less time per week, how would that go for you? For one, you’ll probably spend less money. Two, you’ll probably feel less dehydrated and bloated the next day, because you’ll presumably be taking in less by eating at home.

Three, you’ll most likely be taking in less calories. And I don’t know about you, but as much as I like going out to eat and having a nice dinner at a good restaurant, I usually come home feeling kind of gross; it’s all the salt and the fat and the butter. And then if I have dessert, it’s an extra enormous load of sugar. All of that together just makes me feel kind of icky.

So, when you cut back on the number of meals you have at restaurants or from takeout, you’re cutting down on all of that. And again, I’m not asking you to give up eating out altogether here, that’s not at all what I’m saying. If you go out for meals only occasionally this may not apply to you. But if you are someone who gets many or most of your meals outside your home, consider cutting it back by one, just one. It will make a difference. All right?

Next, let’s talk about alcohol and other liquid calories. Liquid calories in the form of alcohol have zero nutritional value, but it comes in at seven calories per gram. As a reminder, carbs and protein have four calories per gram, and fat has nine calories per gram. So, part of the problem with alcohol is that generally, it isn’t used to replace a meal, it’s consumed in addition to your meal so it ends up being just extra calories.

The average five-ounce glass of wine is about 120 calories, give or take. Your average 12-ounce beer is about 150 calories; there’s wide variation depending on the type of beer you choose. And your average shot of hard liquor is about 100 calories. Then, if you do mixed drinks, you’re adding on even more calories with the juices and the syrups and all the mix-ins and stuff.

What this means is that you could easily have the equivalent of a meal when you have three or more drinks, depending on what you choose. So, your nice dinner out can end up becoming the equivalent of two meals or more, depending on the food you have and how much alcohol you drink.

In a similar way, sugar sweetened beverages can be the equivalent of a meal depending on what you choose. So, to be clear, sugar sweetened beverages are drinks that have been sweetened with things like corn syrup, dextrose, fructose juice, honey, among many, many others. Sugar sweetened beverages are things like regular sodas, sports and energy drinks like Gatorade, fruit juice, some sweetened water, and all the fancy coffee and tea drinks.

The most recent CDC data suggests that more than two thirds of American adults consume at least one sugar sweetened beverage per day. Similar to the processed food snacks and meals out at restaurants, consider the impact of decreasing either your intake of alcohol, or your intake of sugar sweetened beverages by one; whether that’s one a day, or one per week.

Imagine the impact. Again, I’m not asking you to get rid of it. I’m not asking you to eliminate alcohol or soda, or to stop getting your Frappuccino or whatever, but instead, can you cut back one drink? Can you reduce your liquid calorie consumption by one drink per week? You can totally do that.

All right, next. Now I’m going to switch gears here. I know I might be a Debbie Downer here because I just went through, one by one, and suggested some things to cut back on in your life. So, I suggested replacing an ultra-processed food snacks with a wholesome snack. Then I asked you to consider going out to a restaurant one less time per week. And then I asked you to cut back on your liquid calorie intake.

I get it, it may seem like I’m taking away all these things from you, but I’m not, I’m asking you to cut back. Again, I’m not asking you to restrict yourself and deprive yourself to the point of revolting and rebounding, okay? That’s not the idea. But part of the problem in our culture, and in our society, is that we have taken a number of conveniences to excess.

I would argue that all three of the things I mentioned, ultra-processed foods, restaurant and takeout meals, and liquid calories, I would argue that they’re all conveniences. They’re nice to have. But they’re not necessary. They are not required. But too many people have them and have them to excess, where it contributes to problems like obesity and the health conditions that come with it. We’ve become overly dependent on them.

Now I want to offer you suggestions of things that you can add in. I want to offer you things to add, or habits that you can add, to your life that will make a difference. All right, starting with a salad. I know, if you’ve been listening to this podcast at all, you know by now I love salad. But I bring it up repeatedly for good reason.

It is no secret that we do not get enough vegetables or fiber in our diets, and a salad will take care of all that. I’m not talking about a few wimpy lettuce leaves here. I’m talking about a real, true, legit, big honking salad. Like one with tons of vegetables and healthy fats and protein on it.

There’s a running joke in our house that sometimes if we go out to eat and I order a salad, and if what comes out is this teeny, weeny, little, bitty plate of a few lettuce leaves, my kids will laugh and they will joke that that is not a Nicholson size salad. Because they know that in our house when mom and dad have a salad, they mean business.

That’s what I mean for you, too. Have a real salad. Get creative. Make it colorful and ensure you’re getting a range of vitamins and minerals with all kinds of veggies on there. As I’ve said before, put something with substance on it. If you’re going to replace a meal with your salad, there needs to be enough on the salad to keep you full and satisfied.

I don’t want you chewing loads and loads of plain lettuce just to fill yourself up, only to be hangry five minutes later. Put a chicken breast on there, stick some eggs on it, put tofu on it. In fact, if you don’t like to cook, like me, there’s a really easy way to marinate tofu and use it on your salad.

Get extra firm tofu, drain it, cube it, and then marinate it with red wine vinegar and some Italian seasoning. There is no cooking required. Stick that on your salad, and you’re done. My point in sharing this is to say it does not, and it should not, be complicated to have a salad as a meal. But too often, you don’t make the salad substantial enough and then it doesn’t keep you full. So, get serious about your salads, okay?

And here’s why this matters. I’ve mentioned this a number of times, but it bears repeating in this context. If you’re trying to eat healthier, or if you’re trying to lose weight, one of the common fears that you and my clients have shared with me is that you’re concerned about having to eat less food; that you’ll be hungry, that you’re eating like a bird. When in reality, often what happens is you end up eating more food.

Think about it. A burger and fries aren’t a ton of food, but you get quite a few calories from that. A big honking salad with loads of veggies and eggs and chicken and tofu, that’s a solid volume of food. You will be chewing longer on the salad than the burger, but for a lot less calories.

The point here is caloric density. The burger and fries have a lot of calories in not a lot of food. Your big salad will have a lot of food for not as much calories. If you do that every day, if you have one big salad a day, it will make a difference. It’s not hard. It’s salad, you can totally have a salad today. Today, okay?

All right, next. The next thing you can do to get started on your journey to get healthy is take a walk. Like, for real. I mean it, go for a walk. Walking is one of the most underrated things you can do for your health. It seriously is a great form of exercise and not enough people are doing it. Our culture has gotten more and more and more sedentary, and that is literally killing us. So, instead, start moving.

I’m not asking you to go for a run. I’m simply asking you to go for a walk. The startup here is low; you need a pair of sturdy shoes and a safe place to walk in order to get started. So, as for how far and how long? Start somewhere. If you like numbers, like I do, aim for a total of 150 minutes of walking in a week.

But if you’re starting from a place of zero minutes per week, how about starting slow, like a 10-minute walk, three times a week after dinner. If you’re really winded, and that’s too much, no problem. Start with a walk around your block, that’s it. Then aim to bump it up from there.

As far as step counts, don’t get so bogged down trying to get to 10,000 steps a day. Remember, the number 10,000, it came from a Japanese marketing tactic to sell pedometers. The number 10,000, in Japanese, it looks like a person walking. There is no science behind the number 10,000. Okay, so sure, if you want to aim for 10,000 steps in a day, by all means go for it. But I don’t want you to feel bound by that number because it is all a product of fancy marketing.

There is science, however, behind the number 4,000. A number of studies have landed at the number 4,000 steps. In fact, a recent article published this month… It was a meta-analysis, which is a higher quality study. That paper found that a daily step count of at least 4,000 is enough to significantly reduce your all-cause mortality.

In plain English, get in at least 4,000 steps a day to decrease your risk of dying. All right? Sure, more is better. But if you’re not at 10,000 don’t worry because you don’t have to be at 10,000 steps in order to see a benefit. And the benefits of walking, there are so many.

Walking can help prevent diseases like heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, certain cancers. It improves your cardiovascular fitness and improves your muscular endurance. It’s good for your bones, without the impact on your joints that running can have. It improves your balance and improves your coordination. It’s good for your mood, your memory, your sleep, your stress, your energy level. I can keep going but you get the idea. Start walking. If you do no other form of exercise, start walking.

Do not overcomplicate this. Don’t worry about the numbers. I know I just gave them all to you, but don’t let them mess you up, and don’t get bogged down by them. Just go for a walk. You can do that today. Really. I don’t know that I’ve ever come back from a walk outside and thought to myself, “I really wish I hadn’t done that.” No, never. You will feel better. Go for a walk.

Okay, last, pull out a piece of paper, shove it in your pocket later, and write down every single thing you eat today. Or if you don’t like pen and paper, start a note in your phone, and commit to writing in every single thing you put in your mouth today.

As a caveat, I am recommending this if you can do it from a healthy, kind space. If you have a history of disordered eating, or if you have an eating disorder, or if journaling will cause you to become obsessive, this is not for you. Okay? One reason to write down everything you eat, there’s science that suggests it will help you lose weight.

There’s a good body of research now that supports the use of food journaling. Many of these studies compared people who kept a food diary to people who didn’t, and time and again, people who kept a food journal of some sort lost more weight than people who didn’t. So, there’s solid evidence to support that food journaling will help you.

Why am I suggesting that you do this? Why should you write down everything you eat in a day. First, to create awareness. If you are trying to change your diet, we have to know where you’re starting from. Again, think of a map. In order to get anywhere, you have to know where you are on the map. Food journaling will give you information to help you know where you are on that map. Okay?

Remember, you can’t change what you don’t measure. So, let’s find out what you’re actually doing. Journaling what you eat will give you that data. And when I say food journal, I don’t mean pull out My Fitness Pal and track everything; you can certainly do that if that helps you.

I have some clients who use trackers in order to keep themselves honest and on track with their goals. But if using a tracker sounds icky to you, just write it down. Write down what you eat, no amounts or calories are necessary. If you commit to this, and commit to writing down everything, you might surprise yourself.

When I have clients who do this, even for one day, it can be eye opening. The piece of candy from the front office, and a half of a cupcake you weren’t planning to have after lunch, but it was just sitting there staring at you in the break room. The last few bites of grilled cheese from your kid’s plate. All of it adds up.

Often, we don’t think of those bites here or those tastes there, but it all counts, and it all adds up. So, I’m asking you to be completely honest, and lay it all out and write down everything that goes in your mouth for one day. Do it in real time, we are terrible at remembering. When you try to recollect what you ate, at the end of the day, it becomes much harder. If you commit to this and commit to doing it honestly, I think you might be surprised.

I know I was. I found that I ate way more than I thought I did. It all came from random things here and there. So, you may find that your main meals, like your breakfast and lunch and dinner, you may find that those are fine; that they’re well rounded, and they’re generally healthy. But then, it’s all the other things, like your snacks or your grazing, and all of the little bites of things here and there, that’s putting you in a caloric excess.

Again, I find this to be the source of the problem. But unless you’re paying attention and looking out for it, you’re not going to find it. Most of us are just eating more than we think we are. And food journaling can help to shed light on that.

So, aside from creating awareness, food journaling can help you build healthier habits. If you write down everything and see that you have a 3:30pm grazing habit, where you have a spoonful of peanut butter, then a string cheese 10 minutes later, then a handful of dried fruit, then a bite of your kid’s granola bar, that all tells you something.

That data tells you a couple of things. One, you may need to check in with your hunger scale and decide if you are truly physically hungry at that time. And two, if you are hungry then, is it because you need a bigger, more filling lunch? Or do you prefer to have a snack and you need to plan it out ahead of time so you’re ready and you know what you’re going to eat?

And three, if you aren’t hungry, then what’s going on? Is it that you’re bored? Is it you’ve been working for hours and you need a break and food seems like the natural answer, even though you aren’t hungry? Is it that you need a change of scenery and need to go outside instead?

I would encourage you to look at this with a critical eye and decide if that grazing is really related to hunger, or is it related to something else? This is about picking up patterns. When you collect data in the form of a food journal, you can look for patterns.

Writing down everything will give you an idea of what you’re eating. I know that’s fairly obvious, but when you commit to writing it down, you can look at how much of your food is whole food, how much is ultra processed, how much is liquid calories, and on and on. You may find that you eat a lot more carbs and bread products than you thought. You may see that you don’t eat many vegetables. You’ll see what your habits are.

Remember, we are terrible estimators, so writing down your food takes estimation out of the picture. Then you can decide if you need to change the makeup of any of your meals or snacks. Do you tend to eat more ultra processed stuff late in the afternoon? And if so, what can you have instead? If you are truly hungry, look for patterns, and you will find them, and then you can decide if those patterns are helpful or if they need adjusting.

Food journaling, it totally works. It works because self-monitoring is essential for any change you’re looking to make, including weight loss. Simply the act of writing things down can be enough to make you think twice. You might think twice about that package of Oreos, if you know. You committed to writing it down. It’s another stop catch. It’s creating just a little bit of space between you and the food. So, you can decide if it’s something you really want to eat.

This does not have to be time consuming. You can keep it simple, with a pen and paper, or you can dictate it into the Notes app on your phone. This is not meant to be time intensive. It’s meant to be done in real time, and it’s meant to be done quickly, 15 minutes or less in a day. This should not take a long time. You can totally do that. All right?

So, there it is. I just went over six different things you can do today to get started toward a healthier life. Alright, so to review, you can replace one ultra processed snack for a whole food snack, like fruit or veggies. You can go out to eat for restaurant, fast food, takeout, one less time this week. You can cut down on one liquid calorie drink. You can have a big honking salad today, and go for a walk. And last, you can write down every single thing you eat in a day.

I’ve said it before, I’m going to say it again here, you don’t have to rip the band-aid off in order to create change in your life. You just have to start somewhere. Okay? So, choose any one of these. Pick one thing. Make a plan for what your midday snack will be instead of pretzels. Decide what you’ll have on your salad tonight. Plan for your 10-minute walk after dinner.

None of these should take you a lot of time. And then, commit to it. Repeat it daily or weekly for a month and just see what happens. I will bet you a nickel you feel better. Then work on making it a habit. Imagine taking any one of these behaviors and making it lifelong.

What would that look like and feel like for you? How would that one tiny nudge change your life? These are small but significant changes, and they will make a difference. If you find yourself getting overwhelmed by wanting to change your life, and you overthink it and spin yourself into procrastination and ultimately end up taking no action, try this approach.

Choose one of these six habits, make it small, but doable, and repeat it so that it becomes your default. Remember, your lifestyle is a process. It’s a process made up of loads of tiny behaviors that you repeat as habits. If you aren’t happy with the lifestyle you currently have, but you don’t know where to start to change it, start small.

Pick one behavior, just one of the behaviors I offered you, and make it a habit. Don’t make changing your life monumental. Make it small, make it doable, and make it happen starting today. And if you need help with this, let’s go.

When you coach with me, this is what we do. We choose your behaviors, we make them habits, and then we build on them. You will build the lifestyle you want, so you can live in the body you want. Check out my website. Go to www.CarrieHollandMD.com/contact and tell me where you’re getting stuck, then let’s get to work. All right?

So, thank you again for hanging out with me, and I’ll catch you again next week. If you like what you’ve been hearing, please review the show. I would love to get your feedback and ideas. Your suggestions have inspired episodes and will help me make the show better for you. And share this podcast with a friend, text a show link, share a screenshot, or post a link to the show on your social media. Be sure to tag me @CarrieHollandMD on either Instagram or Facebook, so I can follow along and engage with you.

This is how we get the word out to other working moms who want to feel strong, inside and out. If you know someone who wants to feel better or eat and move differently but she is too tired or too busy, it is time to change things up. And you know making that change starts with how you think, and that is what we do here on the Strong as a Working Mom podcast. I’ll see you next week.

Thanks for listening to Strong as a Working Mom. If you want more information on how to eat, move, and think, so you can live in the body you want, with the mind to match, visit me at CarrieHollandMD.com.

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