THE BLOG

Want Health? You Can't Get There From Here

07/15/2015 09:23pm ET | Updated December 6, 2017
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In the name of "getting healthier," a lot of people use short-term strategies in an attempt to address their long-term goals. They eat shakes and bars; eliminate entire food groups; weigh, measure, count, and log everything they eat and every step they take; avoid parties, birthday cake, and favorite restaurants; and make numerous other sacrifices that they're willing or able to tolerate for only a short period of time.

The problem is that you can't get here from there

Many of the people we work with have been on just about every diet. Their mentality had been, "I can tolerate anything for a short period of time!" -- until they just couldn't do it anymore. I used to get through my diets that way too. I usually started out feeling motivated and committed, promising myself that I was making a permanent lifestyle change this time. Somewhere along the line I'd slip into thinking, "How long can I stick to this?"

Diets, despite everything you read on the internet (or hear from your doctor), won't get you any closer to health. With each round of restriction, deprivation, joyless eating, cravings, emotional eating, bingeing, and guilt, you are actually moving further from the healthy, balanced, mindful life you crave.

Act as if you are already mindful and healthier

What if, instead of the unsustainable, "I can tolerate anything for a short period of time" approach, you started acting as if you are already the healthier, mindful person you want to be? What would you do?

  • Would you skip meals? Would you replace meals with bars or shakes? (Maybe; but only occasionally when you were on the run.)

  • Would you have that piece of birthday cake? (Probably. Would you have to second or third piece? Maybe not today.)
  • Would you track everything you eat? Would you scan the labels, log it in, and talk about your diet incessantly to anyone who will listen? (I doubt it. You would be too busy living the life you crave to bother with all of that!)
  • Would you postpone your life, waiting until you had somehow earned the right to live it?
  • As it turns out, the moment you "act as if" you are living the healthier life you crave, you are! Don't wait! The way to a mindful, healthy life is through it: one decision, one meal, one bite at a time, one walk at a time. Learn how to eat mindfully and commit to living more vibrantly. Then let health catch up to you.

    Michelle May, M.D. is the founder and CEO of Am I Hungry? Mindful Eating Programs and Training and the author of the Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat book series.