Author: Alison Wright, Nutritionist and Health Coach, ATMS
Over the last two years, our world has changed and it’s been tough. Many of us are now struggling with inertia – “languishing” is the current buzz word. Our enthusiasm for new hobbies and self-improvement from the days of lockdown #1 have mostly disappeared by lockdown #6, the impact of long-term stress and uncertainty eating away at our energy and motivation.
Stress does that to you, just like it compels you to seek out comforting foods, it drains your positive energy and starves your resources and resilience. This is why right now, our focus needs to be on restoring our health and vitality and not jumping on a stringent fitness program/diet to lose the covid kilos – after all, haven’t we lived with enough restrictions without imposing more on ourselves?
The issue is how do we do get back on track and start making positive health choices if we are lacking motivation? The answer is – one small step at a time. I know that small changes lead to big results and that eating nutritious food not only helps us to manage stress, it also boosts our immune system, resilience, mood and energy, which is exactly what we all need right now. So, this is what I am going to share with you, 5 tips to get back on track. Don’t try to do them all at once, each one on its own will deliver results so work through them at your own pace.
- Set Some Goals – I’m not talking about big goals, I’m talking about small, action orientated goals every day. Have some fun with this. Look at adding in a positive behaviour rather than setting a goal that shouts deprivation! An example: “Today I am going to eat 5 serves of different coloured vegetables” not “today I am giving up sugar forever.”
- Start the Day Well. Get up, drink a glass of water, get dressed and move. It could be 15 minutes stretching, or a walk around the block with the dog or a few laps of the garden. Then sit down and eat a balanced, nutritious breakfast with a good source of protein (eggs, nuts, seeds, yoghurt) and fibre (oats, wholemeal toast, vegetables, fruit). You may have to get up 15 minutes earlier, but it is worth it to set your intention for the day. (Short on time? Check out this recipe for overnight oats).
- Eat More Veggies – Add salad to your sandwich, spinach to your smoothie (you won’t taste it), swap crackers for vegetable sticks and try and get to 5-6 serves of vegetables daily. Just think, 92% of Australians do not eat enough fruit and vegetables to support their health. Vegetables contain chemicals which support your mood, energy, immunity and digestion.
- Cook More Meals from Scratch – now this sounds daunting but eating well doesn’t have to be complicated and making your own food puts you in charge of what you put into your body whilst increasing nutrients and nutrient value. Try adding a new recipe every week and get the family involved or set a theme like meat free Monday. Remember a nutritious meal can be as simple as a baked potato with hummus/tuna and a big salad. Depending on your starting point, set a goal “Today I am going to make my own sandwich for lunch” or “today I am going to make all my meals from scratch.” Spending a little time every weekend to plan the week ahead will help you to keep on track.
- Just Do You. Every day do something that makes you happy. Read a book, sit outside in the sun, take a yoga class, do some gardening or talk to a close friend. Carve out some time for yourself every day to build up your resilience and get out of your stress zone – just a little time out, just for you.