These days, there’s one word that comes to mind when I think about my preferred approach to fitness and we'll-being and that’s “sustainability”.
My training and career as a professional dancer certainly did not take the approach of sustainability. The intensity of this training was detrimental to my physical and mental health.
Knowing that I needed to be a certain size to get or keep the dance jobs I wanted was the expected. I had a controlling & unhealthy relationship with food and exercise. Constantly trying to be at least one dress size below what I now consider to be my natural healthy weight, I would find myself in a constant state of anxiety when it came to food choices. I used to think I would never be free from it.
Food would always be a necessity and I didn’t know how to enjoy food without the attached emotional charges.
I took a course in Holistic Nutrition and learnt how to eat smarter for health and weight loss. Learning about how the nutrients in foods are designed to assist our body with all its amazing functions and to fight disease was fascinating to me. It allowed me to finally enjoy food and see it as a positive act of love for myself instead of invoking anxiety as it had previously.
But if I’m honest, looking back this was probably another phase of me trying to control my weight and losing weight became addictive.
The good news is that I did eventually learn to let go of this sense of control. For me, sadly it only began to click into place when I stopped dancing and no longer needed to be a particular size.
I hope that any young person experiencing this kind of internal battle now seeks help as for me, I don’t believe that it was purely “the industry” that was to blame, it was my own shit. But that’s another discussion!
That story is unique to my experience, but I imagine that many of us, especially women, have had a journey of some kind when it comes to our approach to our health, body confidence, weight, diet and exercise choices.
I imagine that many of us have experienced different & sometimes negative emotional charges relating to these choices so I would like to offer 10 practical tips on how to make the mindset shift to a healthier, more sustainable approach to health.
If any of them resonate with you, then take them one at a time and repeat it like a daily mantra until it sticks.
Every moment is a new opportunity to make a positive act of love towards yourself.
A conscious decision is better than a “perfect” one.
Increased daily movement over an extended period of time. This is more significant than 1hr each week of formal exercise - especially if it only lasts a few months.
Choose exercise that you enjoy.
Preparation is key when it comes to creating an action plan towards a goal. Take your time with the details.
Theoretically overcome your barriers before you commit to a new healthy habit. For example, if you decide to give up chocolate, perhaps try writing a food diary for a week prior to identify your typical times, energy levels or emotional reasons for grabbing for the chocolate in the first place. Could you satisfy this emotional need in a different way?
Eliminate or introduce one habit at a time and stick to it so that it becomes easy before you add on.
Listen to your body.
Let go of guilt and shame.
Applaud the little wins.