By: Haley Guadagni, Nutrition Peer Counselor
It is very common for anybody that is pursuing a healthier lifestyle to have ups and downs. However, if you’re someone that feels like you’re consistently falling off track, it might be time to rethink your source of motivation! According to an article published by Harvard Medical School, “there are two types of rewards: hedonia and eudaimonia.” In terms of healthy living, hedonia refers to the superficial kinds of things you might receive when doing well with your eating habits and exercise such as weight loss, looking better and feeling like you’re accepted by others more. Eudaimonia refers more to the feeling of overall well-being that you get from healthy living like having more energy, feeling productive and getting stronger.
Connecting your lifestyle goals to these “E-rewards” rather than “H-rewards” will motivate you much more to keep going on your mission to become healthier, and actually makes your brain less depressed! This is because receiving these rewards activates the ventral striatum, which is your brain’s reward region. It may be tough to switch over to this mindset when you’re not used to it, but here are my Top 5 Tips to Gaining a Better Mindset:
- Unfollow certain social media accounts. Or even better – limit social media! Constantly seeing pictures of other people’s bodies or even just lifestyles can keep us too focused on what a certain diet will make our bodies look like, or how many days a week we need to be going to the gym in order to look like someone else, which can leave us feeling discouraged and eventually give up on trying at all. If you do choose to use social media, try to follow athletes or people that inspire you with their perseverance or strength, not their abs.
- Surround yourself with encouragement. Having a gym or meal prep buddy can be an awesome thing! However, you want to make sure that the people in your life are encouraging you in a positive way and focusing on more holistic reasons for getting healthy, rather than just looks, as well.
- Think small, think sustainable. Making a lot of big changes at once may not be the best for sustainability of a healthy lifestyle. For example, many people decide that they’re going to go to the gym 5-6 days a week after being sedentary their whole lives, then wonder why it’s so easy for them to get off track. Of course this is going to be difficult! Setting goals that are realistic for you is key to sticking to them. When you start on a new goal, whether it’s eating differently or exercising more, think to yourself: “Will I be able to keep this up for the rest of my life?” If not, it may be time to rethink your goals.
- Make it fun! Eating healthy and exercising doesn’t have to be boring. Try out a new recipe, a new fruit or veggie you’ve never tried, pick up a new sport or active hobby! There are so many more options out there than you think – find what you like! This way you’re more likely to actually look forward to eating better and working out.
- Forgive yourself. If you “mess up” on your new healthy eating habits or miss a workout, it’s not the end of the world. Don’t give up! The faster you forgive yourself and accept that you can’t change the past, the faster you’ll get back on track. Plus, taking a little break can help you come back stronger. Remember, you’re only human!
Don’t know where to start in terms of living a healthier lifestyle? Come see a nutrition peer counselor any weekday – hours are listed on the Campus Recreation website!