We all know the truth about diets: they don’t work. And yet, every year millions of people are drawn to flashy, clickbait titles with empty promises to “melt away the pounds.”

While there’s nothing wrong with wanting to take steps to feel your best, it is a problem if we keep setting ourselves up for disappointment with quick-fix programs that are pretty much doomed to fail. It’s not that the motivation isn’t there for most of us. But without the right tools and resources, what happens? We beat ourselves up for not sticking with some program that was probably designed for short-term gains without long-term results. How unfair is that?

Here’s the thing. Even if you have the best intentions, studies suggest that only three to five percent of people who lose weight actually keep it off longer than a year. Why?

Well, there are several reasons. But the primary reason is that shiny diets or weight loss programs don’t work is that they don’t consider everything that goes into making long-term changes nor do they focus on quality. (And spoiler alert, quality is everything). If finding our way to optimal health was simple, we wouldn’t have so many people struggling with weight or health conditions.

What Impacts Your Health Habits?

We aren’t saying that you don’t have control over your ability to make healthy changes. We are saying that for some people, there are a number of hurdles to jump through. And being aware can open your eyes to any potential barriers you’ve been facing if you’ve struggled with making healthy lifestyle changes in the past. Soo what exactly makes the biggest impact on your health?

      • Your environment. The location of your grocery store, ability to easily purchase fresh foods, and even whether or not you live close to a park or have access to places that promote fresh air and physical activity all matter.
      • From kids to grownups, research tells us that people who live near parks, trails, or even recreation facilities are more likely to participate in physical activity, which is, of course, essential for wellness.
      • Your social network. Friends, family, and colleagues all matter when making healthy choices. If you are surrounded by supportive people, you are more likely to make healthy behavior changes.
        Oppositely, toxic energy or people who are constantly commenting on your food choices can make it more challenging if you don’t feel supported.
      • Your learned behaviors. If you’ve been doing the same thing or following the same eating habits for the last twenty years, expecting overnight habit changes sets you up for disappointment. It can take weeks of consistent work to make something a new practice.
      • Your physiology. Weight loss, especially quick weight loss from crash diets, can turn on physiological adaptations that make it harder to lose weight. Hormones that turn on feelings of hunger are upregulated, while those that help you feel more satisfied turn down. This means you literally feel even more hungry after losing weight, turning on cravings for foods.

So what’s the answer? It’s a shift in mindset. It’s throwing your typical new year resolutions out the window and embracing the desire to make long-lasting changes – and here’s the kicker – because you deserve it.

You deserve to feel good in your skin and follow a lifestyle that supports longevity. You don’t have to exercise or eat a certain way because you are punishing yourself. You get to eat deeply nourishing, delicious foods and find whatever movement brings joy to your life because that is actual self-care.

Self-care isn’t just about yoga classes and massage (although those are great too!). It’s a mindset of compassion for yourself. Instead of setting those new year resolutions based on negative thoughts, try thinking about making the next year your best year out of a place of self-love.

Negative self-talk ultimately sabotages our health and wellness goals. When we’re constantly putting ourselves down, it’s hard to feel motivated to make any changes. In fact, research has shown that self-deprecation can actually sabotage weight loss efforts.

What if, as you think about the changes you’d like to make for 2022, you think about what you can do to take care of yourself because you get to, not because you have to? That you can set yourself up with new habits for long-lasting change versus something that will only fizzle out by the end of February?

Stay tuned for part two, where we will give you five actionable habits you can start now to get you started on the self-care path to optimal wellness.