How to make your journey to better health enjoyable
1. Be curious
Adults are prone to getting caught up in thoughts and opinions, but psychologist Sarah-Jayne McCormick says having a childlike curiosity about our surroundings and experiences can help reduce stress. “Being curious is a form of mindfulness, which is very relaxing,” she explains. “For example, if you’re going for a walk outdoors, notice the colour of the sky or the sea, or the way a raindrop hits a leaf. It helps you slow down so you don’t get so obsessed with what’s going on in your mind.”
2. Play with your food
You don’t have to arrange your vegetables into a funny face to find food interesting. To beat mealtime monotony, add some new ingredients or recipes to your repertoire. “We have access to so many great foods in Australia, so try new exotic fruits, like quince or dragon fruit, when you see them pop up at the supermarket,” says accredited practising dietitian Zoe Young. Or make it your mission to cook a new recipe once a week.
3. Pack your own lunch
You’d never send a little one to school without a packed lunch, and you should apply the same rule to yourself. “When you pack your lunch the night before, you have more time to think about portion sizes and food choices,” says Young. “When you’re hungry and unprepared, you tend to reach for things that are convenient and often sugar-laden because your blood sugars have dropped.” Make sure your lunch contains wholegrains and vegetables, and also pack a piece of fruit and a low-fat dairy snack, such as a small tub of yoghurt.
4. Move more
Most children can’t think of anything worse than sitting down all day. A lot of parents sit down and have a coffee when they’re at a playground, while the kids run around and play. Instead, why not take the opportunity to run around the park with your children or walk laps of the football oval while they’re at training? Even if you’re not a parent, you can still use ‘child’s play’ as inspiration to move more. Rather than getting in the car when you’ve only got a short distance to travel, ride a bike to get around, just like kids do!
5. Be daring
For active children, no hill is too big to climb and no day is too cold to get outside. Look at the world through a child’s eyes and you’ll find so many more opportunities to move and have fun. As a child you might have always wanted to surf or go rollerskating – so do it! Or if it’s skydiving or rock climbing that’s been on your wish list forever, be brave and give it a go.
6. Have a hobby
With all our grown-up responsibilities, it can be easy to forget to schedule in some fun time for ourselves. “We often get caught up with all the things we have to do in a day,” says McCormick. So take a leaf out of the underage book: be a little more carefree and get actively involved in a hobby. It could be knitting for 30 minutes at the end of each day or playing tennis with a friend once a week. “And don’t worry if you’re talented at it or not,” says McCormick. For children it’s all about the fun, not about putting pressure on themselves to succeed. Plus, by taking time out for yourself, you’re doing your mental health a favour.
7. Lock in mealtimes
We usually keep children to a pretty structured food routine, but then go and get distracted ourselves, forgetting to eat until we’re ravenous. Young says setting regular mealtimes will keep your metabolism ticking and will help you recognise if you’re eating because you’re emotional or bored. “If you have a regular routine, you know when your next meal is coming,” says Young. “It also stops you getting so hungry that you overeat or make poor food choices.”
8. Eat until you're fill
If there’s one thing most kids do better than adults, it’s stopping eating when they’re full. Adults tend to eat fast, often while multi-tasking, which makes it too easy to polish off a huge serving. “It takes 15-20 minutes for your brain to register fullness, which means you can get through a large amount of food before you realise you’re full,” says Young. One solution? “Eat meals away from distractions so you’re aware of what you’re putting in your mouth and can keep a closer eye on your satiety signals.”
9. Have an honesty policy
Sometimes it’s hilarious and insightful, other times it’s downright embarrassing, but there’s no denying that most children call a spade a spade. We’re not saying be brutally honest about everything to the point where you might upset people, but being honest with yourself can work wonders for weight loss. How? When it comes to food, honesty enables you to hold yourself accountable by accurately tracking everything you eat. Studies show people who keep food diaries lose up to twice as much weight compared to those who don’t. “If it goes in your mouth, track it,” says WW Member Sam Belsham, who lost 17.3kg. “Even if it’s 0 SmartPoints it still counts, so don’t cheat yourself!” Beyond tracking food, being honest with yourself about your health and committing to making positive changes can be very empowering.
10. Live guilt-free
Unlike children, adults tend to over-think ‘treat’ foods and feel bad for not following their healthy eating plan to a T. But give a kid an ice-cream and they’ll eat it, love it, then move on. The lesson? If you indulge, enjoy it! Simply work it into your SmartPoints Budget and stay on track.