New Year New Me: The Anxiety Driven Issues And The Anxiety-Resolving Solutions
Happy New Year!
Moving into the new year is both exciting and nerve racking. 2016 was an amazing year for some, and a not so amazing year for others. For some, they achieved much. For others they didn’t achieve anything they set out to achieve.
So, why the discrepancy?
At the beginning of every year, almost everyone has grand plans and hopes for how their new year will look.
This will be my year! Says some.
This is the year of the ROAR! Says others.
I am going to ditch ALL junk food and join a gym.
I am going to set up a morning ritual because I want to be successful and ALL successful people have a morning ritual…don’t they?
However, come the morning of January 1, these same people will wake up with a hangover at 11am, dive into a burger with chips all washed down with some soft drink or coffee.
By this point, they are WAY too drunk, hot and carbed out to go to the gym.
And morning ritual? What morning ritual…its midday now.
There goes my year!
Self-loathing sets in. Disappointment sets in. Old habits take over. Anxiety is rife.
Better luck next year!
When am I ever going to get on track?!
But really? Does it have to be like this?
The answer is no.
Firstly, there is no reason why your actions need to take place at the strike of midnight when the calendar changes over into the next year. Slow and steady wins the race! PACE YOURSELVES!
But more importantly, most people never achieve what they set out to achieve because they want to achieve too many things, and they don’t lay out a pathway to achieve these goals.
Our exercise physiologist Louisa explains the art of setting SMART goals perfectly in her recent blog.
But now that you have set your goals, what next?
At this time of the year, everyone is going on a health kick. Everyone wants to lose weight. But weight loss in and of itself can drive a lot of anxiety.What I hope to highlight to you today are some of the common anxiety-driving thoughts and issues that arise around weight loss and some solutions for these issues.
Issue #1 – I want to lose weight, but I don’t know where to start.
Having all these healthy intentions, but no idea where to start and what to do first can create a lot of anxiety and can send people into a whirlwind of feeling overwhelmed.
Let’s say for arguments sake, you are 100kg, and you’ve set your SMART goal already: to lose 20kg by Dec 31 2017.
Is it specific? Yes. Is it measurable? Yes. Is it attainable? Yes. Is it realistic? Yes. It is time-specific? Yes.
Ok, so you now know that you have a SMART goal.
Now, you stare at it and freeze.
How do I do this??
The shake diet I was on last year was disgusting.
Exercising is too hard right now with my sore joints.
How am I going to do this???
Solution: Now that you have your SMART goal, you need to TRAC your goal. What does TRAC stand for? (I made this one up myself, and I have to say, I am a bit proud of it).
Take a baseline
If your weight loss goals are driven by health, then make sure you take a baseline of your current markers – what is your glucose like? Your lipids? Your hormones? Your iron levels? If your weight loss goals are driven by aesthetics, perhaps get a DEXA scan, or take down your current weight, waist circumference or clothing size.
Record your daily food intake, your water consumption, your alcohol consumption. Write down when you exercise. Describe your emotions and what drives you to eat certain foods. Analyze your hunger patterns and assess whether or not you are actually hungry every time you eat. From recording, you may already pick up on trends and habits that you feel confident in changing on your own.
Perhaps you have identified that every day at morning tea, you grab a biscuit with your coffee without even realising. Perhaps you don’t actually care for the biscuit and it is something you can easily cut out. Bingo! You are already making progress.
Ask for help
Many people see this as a sign of weakness. I see it as a sign of a strong person with self awareness. After all, when I need help with my taxes, I go to an accountant. Why wouldn’t you go see a health professional to help you get your health on track?
Sometimes it takes a health professional to prompt you to get the right blood tests. Sometimes it takes a health professional to identify the gaps in your eating patterns and advise on changes you need to make. Sometimes it takes a health professional to direct you to other health professionals to address issues you probably didn’t even realise were issues. That is why we are health professionals. We are trained in health. You just have to ask us for help.
Sounds a bit obvious? Believe it or not, this is possibly the biggest blunder.
Look, imagine this.
Imagine you were about to marry the love of your life. You are standing at the altar, and the celebrant asks: do you take this woman to be your lawfully wedded wife?
Your partner pauses, looks at you and says: Yes, I do, for the next 4 years, 5 months, 3 days and 13 hours.
How would you feel? Is that a bit silly?
Now imagine this.
Imagine the same scenario: do you take this woman to be your lawfully wedded wife?
Your partner pauses, looks at you and says: Yes, I do, on the condition that she wears red on Mondays, blue on Tuesdays….
How would you feel again?
Yes, I know that sounds funny, yet, most people treat their health and their health goals like that!
I call it the subscription mentality. Most people treat it like it is a subscription to Netflix. I’ll try it out for 6 months and if it doesn’t work, then I will stop it.
The very definition of commitment is: Unconditional, with no expiration date. Yet most people place condition upon condition to achieving their goals, and only set out 12 weeks or 28 days at a time to achieve their goals.
Issue #2 – Dieting is so restrictive!
This is true! Yet the diet industry is a multi-billion dollar industry! Everyone wants to jump onto the next big thing, everyone is in search of that magic bullet that (sorry to say) does not exist! To do it, people are willing to sacrifice taste and quantity of food to lose the weight. Because, hey, it’s only for 12 weeks until the challenge ends, right??
That is why I have grown to hate the word dieting. Imagine how differently people will approach it if it was called nourishing or healthy-ing?
Whenever someone embarks on a diet, it is because someone else had great success with it, and introduced them to it too.
What we need to remember is this: everyone’s body is built so differently. Everyone’s food preferences are different. Everyone’s health markers are different. Everyone’s life is so different. Maybe Bob lost a lot of weight doing the shake diet because all the shake did was create an energy deficit that Bob desperately needed! Maybe you are actually under eating, which is why the shakes aren’t working for you!
Remember that dude who lost a lot of weight on the potato only diet? What if you tried that and you are insulin resistant? Do you think your body would respond the same way?
Solution: So how about let’s quit copy-catting our next door neighbour and what they’re doing and actually eat real, good, unprocessed wholesome foods and seek help to find out what type of macronutrient ratio works best for you and your body, and what foods will offer you the most micronutrient-dense profiles!
Once you stop dieting and start nourishing, you will feel a cloud of anxiety lift!
Issue #3 – I come home after a long day and the last thing I want to do is cook.
Is your fridge full of plastic bags full of rotten food? Is your fridge so full to the brim you don’t actually know what is in there anymore? Can you still see any free space on your bench top? Is there a pile of dirty dishes in the sink and all over the stove?
Clutter is something that can drive anxiety immensely. With order, brings focus. With order, brings calmness.
I read a fabulous blog the other day, written by Chris Irving, CEO of The Zenith Network, where he has created his own DARE system to overcoming anxiety.
So, in applying his DARE principles, I would recommend that you set aside a weekend to organise your food space. Tackle that thing you have been running away from head on!
Solution: Pull everything out, clean out your cupboards and your fridge. After all, they are the places you store your food. Best to keep those spaces clean and mould-spores free.
After that, do a purge. A liberal one. Throw out everything that has expired or is visibly spoilt. Gather all the foods or items that you have not used in the last 6 months. Now throw them out. Gather all the foods or items that you have used in the last 6 months, but cannot see yourself using again for the next 6 months. Throw them out too (or give it away!).
Remove everything from plastic and put them into well labelled clear BPA free plastic Tupperware or glass Tupperware containers. Place them back into your cupboards and fridge.
Wash and organise all your dishes. Clean your benchtop and clear it of things that don’t belong in the kitchen. Nail polish and hair ties for example – they go in the bathroom!
Now – how do you feel now?
The kitchen is only a scary place because we have neglected it for too long. With a little TLC, we can learn to love our food space again.
So, why not put these 3 solutions into action, and see how you go with your goals this year?