Ways to build self-discipline to exercise and eat clean

Why do you think it’s difficult for most people to stay disciplined when it comes to fitness and eating healthy?

Many factors contribute to this. Here are some of the reasons why people find it difficult to stick to a fitness and healthy eating plan: 

1. We often eat because of psychological and emotional needs. We eat to comfort ourselves or fill a void in our lives. Therefore, it’s important that before we embark on a fitness and healthy eating journey, we understand why we are doing it. Establish why you want to be healthier, write down those reasons and set realistic wellness goals. 

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2. When trying to be healthy, we often do too much, too soon. We completely overhaul our diet and embark on a really restrictive diet which is not sustainable and punish our bodies by overdoing it at the gym. I suggest you ease yourself into it. 

3. We’re impatient. You won’t see the physical rewards of changing your diet and exercise in the beginning, which can be very discouraging to some people, leading them to quit. Your body may not be outwardly changing, but know that its composition is changing. You’re getting healthier, more productive and energised. 

4. People have a negative relationship with food. We have entrenched in our minds that food is either good or bad. When you eat something “bad”, you assume that your diet has failed and continue to overindulge in junk food. Adopting the 80/20 rule is important. Keep your food healthy 80% of the time, but give yourself the luxury to indulge in a few goodies 20% of the time. 

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How important is mental strength when it comes to cultivating healthy habits? 

Everything we do in life requires mental strength and you cannot embark on a healthy lifestyle without changing your mindset. In order to change your lifestyle, you have to change how you view food and exercise or else you will quickly become frustrated and quit. 

Change is never easy because it comes with growth. In order for you to stay on track, being mentally and emotionally fit is just as important as being physically fit. 

Here are three mindset shifts which are helpful towards sticking to your health and wellness goals: 

  • Shift from the all or nothing food mindset.
  • View food as a source of nourishment for your body.
  • Discard the reward and punishment mindset. Exercise is not a form of punishment for your body and food is not a reward or source of comfort.

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How important is it to ease yourself into an eating and exercise programme? 

This is very important as it determines whether you will be able to finish the programme. Here are examples of how to start slow: 

Diet: Eat from a smaller bowl, have two teaspoons of sugar instead of three, switch from white bread to brown bread, and buy a smaller packet of sweets instead of a big one. Drink more water as it helps to curb cravings and unnecessary snacking.

Exercise: The objective is simply to keep it moving and all you need is 30 minutes of exercise a day. You can start with a walk or jog around the block. Use the stairs instead of the lift, clean or wash your car. 

These small changes make a big difference and will help you stay on track and build good habits. As you get better and stronger, you can make more healthier swaps and challenge your body more through exercise. Don’t compare yourself with another person and only measure progress based on your past achievements. A healthy lifestyle begins with healthy habits.