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You are what you eat: Strategies for healthy habits

Musculoskeletal disorders are the biggest cause of disability. Despite the billions spent, the problem is just getting worse. Latest medical guidelines strongly recommend exercise therapy as the first-line-treatment for musculoskeletal disorders instead of much more expensive surgeries.

In the fifth of a series of exclusive blogs for getback, Nutritionist Bonnie Chivers looks at strategies to help us overcome obstacles to healthy habits. 

In my last blog we touched on goal setting. With 2022 now full steam ahead, it might be time for a review of those healthy living goals you gave yourself in the new year. 

If you find youre struggling to achieved what youd hoped, consider these three factors. 

Motivation 

Identifying what drives us to change our lifestyle can be very powerful. 

Why do you want to get up and walk each morning, or eat more vegetables? Is it to keep up with your kids, feel good at a friends wedding, or to perform better at work?

Write it down and remember it. When things are feeling hard, reading this message might get you back on track. 

Obstacles

The big sticking point! And the part that most people leave out when they set goals. Obstacles are things or thoughts that stop you from achieving your goal. They too, are very individual – what may stop you, may not be a problem for someone else. 

When you think about your goal, what are the obstacles that come to your mind?

Common obstacles are:
I don’t have enough time.
I’m too tired.
It’s too hot or cold outside.
I don’t feel confident.
I don’t have anyone to join me.
My partner or kids complain when healthy changes are suggested or made.

Strategies

Identifying your obstacles helps you to counteract them with strategies. 

This may take a little bit of time; some strategies might not work at all, or some may wane over time. Write down a few strategies that can help you achieve your goal.

However, it’s important that you dont list too many. If youre having to counteract 10 obstacles, chances are the goal youre setting might not be right for you. 

Some strategy ideas are:

Make a weekly meal plan, and set aside time in your diary to write it

Add fresh fruit to breakfast.

– Have a morning smoothie with a cup of leafy greens in it.

Put five pieces of fruit on your desk so you remember to have one each day.

Get an exercise bike so you can jump on for a few minutes whenever you have time, regardless of the weather.

Call a friend while youre walking to pass time.

Take unhealthy things out of the house so you’re not tempted.

Dont buy chocolate and lollies. 

Dont commit to exercising on certain days. Life is busy and sometimes you wont feel up to it – instead aim for a number of sessions per week.

Keep a tally on your fridge or computer (this works for many things, exercise, fruit, water). 

– Set an alarm in your phone and get up from you desk for a two-minute stretch.

– Replace your evening wine with kombucha. 

If you love dancing, do that for exercise.

– Write a list of the veggies in your fridge and stick it on the door, so you dont forget to use them. 

– Throw a few cups of veggies into take-away meals to make them healthier.

Set aside time to review your goals every now and then.

When making big changes this might need to happen more frequently, but once you start moving towards a sustained, healthy habit, the occasional check-in might suffice. 

Also remember that what works at one point, may not work for ever. As winter comes, we get a new job or move house, a whole new set of obstacles may arise.

Dont stress – just align yourself with a new plan and youll be back on track before you know it.