“A healthy body is a body at a weight that is right for them. A healthy body is a body that is eager to move, because movement is good and brings life and energy. A healthy body sleeps well, and wakes up refreshed. A healthy body doesn’t have mental fog. A healthy body, for a female, has a period that doesn’t wreck them every month,” says True Whole Human co-founder Nina Elliot.
This time of year, we’re being inundated with weight loss plans, programs, and products peddled by the $60 Billion dollar diet industry. No wonder so many of us—21%, more than any other type of resolution—make weight loss resolutions every year!
But why start off another year “battling the bulge” when we could pursue true health instead?
“Being at war with our body is one of the worst ways we can be. Thinking that you can punish or willpower your way through becoming healthier doesn’t work. We are whole humans. Our emotions, our experiences, our traditions, our daily habits, all of these things play a role into the decisions that we make,” says Nina.
Instead of taking inventory of your weight, your jean size, and your body mass index (BMI), why not take inventory of how you’re actually feeling instead? After all, health is about much more than just size, and many of us ignore important cues from our bodies because we’re so myopically focused on size-related indicators.
“If you have a massive blood sugar crash at 4pm, that’s not healthy. It may be normal, but it’s not healthy. We have this level of acceptance that we’re allowed to have all these things wrong with us and still be considered healthy,” Nina says.
Ready to embrace true health this new year? Here are three tips to get you started on a healthier approach to your resolutions from expert Nina Elliot.
1. Listen to Your Body
Many of us think the first step to “getting healthy” is to head to the gym. But depending on the state of your body, going to the gym might be the worst thing you can do.
“If you’re running on a depleted body, and you’re trying to discipline it into submission, if your blood sugar is unstable, or you’re experiencing adrenal fatigue (that’s a side effect of a lot of low calorie dieting), and your endocrine system isn’t plugging along the way that it should, throwing yourself into the gym with a HIIT training workout is the worst thing you can do,” Nina says.
Instead, take a minute to check in with yourself and figure out what your body is asking for. Nina went through a period after giving birth where she was battling with her body’s limitations. Suffering from a hernia, she pushed herself to get back in shape quickly, rather than listening to her body’s cues.
“Two months out from having my baby, I was teaching a boot camp class. I knew in the back of my mind that I shouldn’t be doing planks, because my core was so all over the place. But what happens when you’re surrounded by this competitive environment, and you’re the instructor and you want to be the example, you barge right on past your body’s needs and you say, ‘Forget you, I’m not listen to what you need, buy you’re gonna do what I need’,” Nina says.
Really, it comes down to tapping into our bodies needs, and staying connected to our bodies.
“It’s a separation, there’s the body that you’re gonna will into discipline, and make it work. I had this mentality that my body is not a part of me, it’s something to be honed into. For example, I just had a baby so I just gotta fix these abs, this core. This ‘other’,” says Nina.
“When you listen to your body, and you’re connected to your body, you’ll know what you need,” says Nina.
2. Address the Root of the Problem
For most of us, we know what we need to do to reach our health goals. The challenge is actually putting those things into action.
“We all know what to do. There is not a lack of information out there. People know the things to do, eat well, whole foods, etc. There’s all these rules and we all know them,” Nina says.
Nina recommends looking not only at our behavior, but the emotional and physical drivers of our behavior.
“To apply healthy habits in our lives requires a level of not just introspection, but investigation, and curiosity. And not only that, but this judgement-free, grace-filled zone, that we are not good at entering,” Nina says.
“For example, to be able to set a goal for yourself, instead of just creating a chart, or making a declaration on Instagram, if you haven’t taken the time to sit down and ask the deeper questions, you’re going to overlook not only the behaviors that are sabotaging your goals, but also why you’re reliant on those behaviors. The physical and emotional reasons you’re reaching for food or substances to stand in for good self-care,” says Nina.
3. Focus on Healthy Habits
“People tend to want to take on the world when they want to be healthy. They want to do it all. But we don’t work that way very well as humans. We get to do one thing at a time,” says Nina.
“When you start focusing on healthy habits, weight loss usually does follow,” says Nina.
The key is to make sure you’re honing in on one major change at a time, and setting up your life in a way that supports that change.
“If you focus on reducing your caffeine consumption, a lot of times you need to backfill with really good nutrition. Biological cravings are often there for a reason, so healthy habits like eating real food, and increasing good fats, will just fix the brain chemistry issues. Healthy habits step in to those spaces where it felt like willpower had to do its job. And willpower no longer has a job to do, because you’ll actually feel nourished,” Nina says.
So how can you make your willpower irrelevant through healthy habit changes?
“It comes down to just making better choices. The climate out there is so loud and crazy. One of the things that is so freeing is, when you make the switch to quality food, suddenly all these other habits are crowded out,” says Nina.
Step One? Make Dinner.
“Make dinner every night. And make a lot of it, because that dinner becomes lunch the next day. And boom, you’ve just solved two meals in your week by cooking one meal, made from real food, in your own kitchen,” Nina says.
For more tips from Nina, and to hear the rest of the interview, check out the latest episode of the Healthy at Any Size podcast. To learn more about Nina, follow True Whole Human on Instagram or visit the True Whole Human website.