Change Your “Normal”: A Guide To Adopting a Healthy Lifestyle

Change is tough! It really is. At work, in your relationships and when changing your habits. Change is a huge part of being a mainstream environmentalist. You question your habits and challenge the norm. The amazing part is when you realise that your change is now your “normal”. Whether it be reusing your keep cup or refusing straws.

I went through a huge health change last year and I wanted to share how I made it stick. The impact of mindset and “resetting your normal” directly applies to environmental habits, but weight loss is something that many of us can relate to.

I lost 17kg back in 2012 and put it all back on again. I did that 3 times over the next 5 years. In 2017 I knew I wasn’t living my dream life. So I took the time to understand what I was eating. I wanted to live by the values I held, one being that I align with the world around me. I started eating more fibre and less processed foods and animal products. I’m still on my way to my dream life but I’ve lost 15kg and maintained the lifestyle for over 18 months.

If you’ve ended up in a place where you’re unhappy with your health or your weight, it’s the food and actions you’ve taken so far that got you there.

I’m talking about a time where you aren’t living the life you want, when you’re not in a body you want to be in. Not a couple of kgs off your goal… you’ve actually been headed in a different direction than that.

You got there from the food and actions so far. What has been your “normal” isn’t giving you the outcome you want.
I’ve been there. I’ve felt less valuable than those around me because of the way I look and the sluggishness I feel.

You would have heard this before, and probably experienced it before, but any kind of temporary diet change isn’t going to get you out of there for good.
It will get you from where you are, to somewhere else, but once you go back to that “normal”… You guessed it, it will lead you right back to where you are today, very quickly!

And I know what you’re thinking. “Yeah but once I get there, I’ll be able to maintain”. But what you might not realise is, as soon as you stop losing weight, as soon as you stop under eating or cutting carbs out or whatever, your body is trying to get you back to your “normal”. It doesn’t feel safe! It feels like it’s been through famine, it feels like Krispy Kreme donuts are worth their weight in gold!

Instead of changing where you are temporarily, let’s change your “normal” so you can live the life you want to live.

Before you start, you need to know 2 things. And you need to decide if you want to continue once you know them.

#1. You will not be at your ideal weight as quickly as you would like.
In many diets, the change is quick, but also temporary. Your weight changes but your body chemistry hasn’t had time to adjust. But think of it this way. Don’t you wish you made this great life change 2 years ago! That’s where you will be in 2 years from today, either thankful, or wishing you had made this change today.

#2. You will never be eating your current “normal” diet again.
Your current normal diet is why you are where you are today. Yes you will be able to eat your favourite foods occasionally, but your daily breakfast, your daily afternoon snack, the amount you indulge on a Saturday night, that will all be different when you establish your new “normal”. But you need to trust that you will like it. Can you tell me what you ate for lunch last Tuesday? If not, then it’s probably not worth the extra calories you’re carrying from the chicken schnitzel and chips combo. But I can tell you about this amazing banana icecream I made 2 weeks ago. It was an indulgence.

8 Steps to your new “normal” healthy lifestyle

1. The first thing you need to do, absolutely number 1, is to accept these 2 facts.
You need to go into this, wanting your new normal more than your current normal. Isn’t that why you want to change anyway? To trade in your normal.

2. The second thing you need to do is a whole bunch of research. Really understand what you’re currently eating and understand the impact. Talk to other people about why they go for a walk on their lunch break, why they eat the same thing almost every morning tea. Understand what you’re eating and doing does to your body. Understand that exercising isn’t just about calorie burn, it’s about stabilising your moods and body chemistry to help you control what you eat. Understand that maintaining a healthy weight is a lot more than calorie deficit. That getting enough sleep stops you from needing more energy from food. That drinking enough water allows you to digest food and get nutrients so you don’t feel the need to eat more. Learn about how unnatural foods make your body want more food to feel nourished and satisfied. Arm yourself with facts that make you want to eat better and do better. Check out Keeping It Off, an absolute investment in your mindset. If Michelle Bridges isn’t your style, check out the documentaries like Food Choices or What the Health on Netflix.

3. The third thing you need to do is decide that you are going to change. You need to clarify why it’s important to you so you remember on those tough days. You also need to tell yourself you are going to change. I will be healthy. I will be healthy. I will be a healthy person. I am a healthy person. This sounds crazy, I know. But think of it is this way.
There’s an overweight, unhealthy, unhappy person walking past you right now. Using your judgement and instincts, do you think that person is on their way to the gym?
Now picture a smiling happy healthy person walking past you. What do you think they’re having for dinner tonight?
This is exactly how you will judge yourself too. If you think you’re unhealthy, it makes you think it’s normal and pretty well obvious that you’re going to make unhealthy choices. But if you look at yourself in the mirror in the morning and say “I’m healthy” then it’s pretty hard to follow that up with Maccas on the way to work. Healthy people don’t do that.

4. The forth thing, and this is where it gets fun. Start putting that research into action. But don’t force yourself not to have something, that will honestly make your body want it more. Instead, start by fueling yourself with the good stuff you’ve heard about. Fresh fruit during the day, lots of fibre in your breakfast, a walk around the car park on your lunchbreak, 2 glasses of water before bed and more than 7 hours sleep a night. Don’t deprive your body. Fuel it.
This sounds counterintuitive because you’ve probably been on diets your whole life. But giving your body what it needs before taking away what it doesn’t need, will set you up with the energy and mindset to do this.
This is change, it’s one of the hardest things for us to do. So don’t be too hard on yourself, but keep changing, little by little. The person benefiting from this is you. The person driving this is you. How exciting and powerful!

5. Move your body, that’s what it was made for. And it’s likely that one of the reasons you want to change your life is so you can move more comfortably. In those jeans, at the beach, with your family. Moving your body can be as simple as taking your mates dog for a walk, or finally checking out that new pool that opened. Let yourself do a few activities that you normally wouldn’t.
On day one of your job, you probably weren’t as good at your job as you are now. So this is day one of your job. In a few months, who knows! You might join a soccer team because you like it! You might walk every morning because it makes you feel better. You are a healthy person after all!

Slacklining in June 2017.

SUP board turns 2017.

6. Set goals. Now that you’re probably feeling better and seeing some changes, set goals that you can now see are achievable. I bet you want to be good at something. Maybe it’s rock climbing. Maybe you want to feel comfortable wearing different clothes. Or running with someone you know. In 1 years time, you can be really good at something. I remember when I was the largest girl in my lyrical dance class. Now I look the part, performing a choreographed routine, doing flips and sh#t! That’s the life I want.

Buying my summer bikini last November for Yacht Party.

7. Develop a routine. This was the hardest step for me. But has by far been my biggest win. My routine is my healthy life. I eat oats and banana almost every morning. I go to bootcamp every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and dance class Thursdays, sometimes a social walk on Saturday. Occasionally I go to a dessert bar with my friends and I wear nice clothes to remind me what’s important. And sometimes I go on 3 hour hikes with my friends, to remind me that I’m strong and I can do anything I put my mind to. I am healthy after all.

8. Ride the change train. I’ll say it again. Change is really hard. Friends will ask you why you’re being so boring, you’ll miss certain things you used to do, and it will feel manotonous. But this is when you remember your why.
Why do I want to change.
And remember what your new normal looks like. Sure, you might not get to smash 12 beers every Friday night with your colleagues anymore, but you’re improving at rock climbing and you’re looking forward to 5 beers with your best mate at their party soon, where you’ll look and feel way better than you have before.
And that’s why you should have already started doing your new “normal” things. To make it worth all the things you stopped doing.

It’s a mental game, it really is. But just remember that it’s what you want. You deserve to give yourself what you want. Lead the life you want!

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