By Yajen Tan
I got the chance this week to sit down with local nutritionist, personal trainer, and yoga instructor, Christina Torres, to find out what works best when it comes to building sustainable diet habits. Not only did she teach me a ton about behaviors in the nutrition industry, but also how to make an amazing smoothie – that article will have to wait for next time. Christina’s desire is to spread happiness and clarity throughout the community by exploring and applying individuals’ interests to help develop sustainable, and more importantly, enjoyable lifestyles for her clients.
When it comes to building long-term habits, Christina emphasizes the reminder that small, consistent changes and actions can make significant differences in people’s lives. Examples include trying to incorporate more vegetables into your shopping list if you regularly cook at home, or making better choices for someone who tends to eat out more often.
A new approach to habit change
Christina’s belief on small changes creating large effects really resonates within my own experience over the past year. A few small changes that have made huge differences in my life include saving my morning coffee until after lunch, incorporating a vegetable-dense smoothie into my daily routine, and eating a big bowl of oats in the morning. You won’t believe how great it feels to be energized and awake throughout the afternoon while everyone is falling asleep.
As the New Year came and went, some of our resolutions are probably starting to fade out, so it’s a great time to figure out what went wrong and how we can achieve our goals the right way. As someone who regularly works with clients on habit development, Christina points out a very common issue that make our resolutions difficult to achieve – trying to make extreme lifestyle changes too quickly, and then burning out after making too many adjustments at once.
Her method of dealing with this is taking a step back and remembering that small changes can make a big impact. Getting in shape is a process and staying in shape is a lifestyle, so it’s incredibly important to understand that nobody has the ability to turn their life around without effort and persistence. If your goal is to live healthier, then start small and go on a light walk a few times a week with a friend, fill your shopping cart up with more fruits and veggies, or sit down with a professional once or twice a week to keep you accountable and on track.
Problems in the weight loss industry
I asked Christina about one of her pet peeves, about dieting and weight loss, which stems off of this media-fueled mentality that plagues our society:
Oh goodness… That would be the diet mentality–deprivation, extreme measures, and striving for quick results–which usually sets people up to fail and bounce right back in EXTRA weight gain. Many advertisements show the media’s portrayal of “happiness” and “perfection”, while the reality is that those images are reflections of frustrating, highly restrictive, and unrealistic lifestyle habits. I think that it is important to not let a commercial or advertisement tell us how a “perfect body” should look, but I also think many of us struggle with this concept because the desire for “perfection” is imposed on us everywhere we look. I love when programs focus more on moving to feel good, eating to fuel and replenish, and participating in what makes you happy and healthy.
After sharing with me these trends and behaviors seen in the nutrition industry, Christina left me with a piece of advice that I believe we all need to prioritize this year:
Talk nicely to yourself and others! We often seem wired to be hard on ourselves, but there is a huge difference between wanting to better yourself and talking down on yourself. Talking down on yourself is detrimental and just plain mean. As you stay curious and continue to learn how to take better care of yourself, you will gradually improve yourself with time and effort. Keep reminding yourself daily you are doing your best. You can’t pep talk yourself once and think it’ll last all week or month or year. Just like a daily shower to cleanse our bodies, we need daily showers of positive affirmations and reminders… “I am doing my best!” (and do your best with what you have).