I was riding to a pre-summer party the other day, with one of my friends on the back of my scooter, and she asked me, randomly, about multivitamins. She said “I need to do something different, I know I do. It’s just that I’m not really ready to make a huge change and so I thought I could start with multivitamins, to fill in the blanks for the foods I’m not eating that I know I should be eating…and I have a lot of respect for all the research you do on health and I would like to know what you think about them – multivitamins – because I’ve heard and read conflicting things. I have this brand in mind I think I would like to try, but…”
I’ll pause there. You’re probably not going to be surprised to hear that a lot of people have this very same question and thought process. As a certified health coach and author of a book about fuelling the body for optimal health, I hear it all the time. And I get it, I understand. Can you pop a multivitamin instead of making changes to what you’re eating? Trust me, I know it’s easier to pop a pill than it is to do a complete overhaul of your diet when you know you’re not exactly eating the best foods you could be…
So, what did I say? Although I told her that a multivitamin isn’t meant to be a substitute for eating healthy foods, I also let her know that I understood where she was coming from. She wanted to “get on track” with her health and eating (summer had almost started and she had joked that there were parts of her that jiggled when she rode on the scooter now) but she felt a resistance to change, especially when it came to changing the foods she ate daily.
So I told her something that surprised her – “You’re heading in the right direction with the multivitamins.” I told her that taking a small step like that in the right direction is a good start. It’s really hard, after all, to go from what she claimed was the worse shape of her life to being the living example of optimal health with a lean body, glowing skin and abundant energy.
Also, I shared with her something that you might not have heard before, and that is: Healthy doesn’t have to be hard! I promise.
There’s a secret to propelling your life forward in the direction you want it to go. You’ll love it – it even rhymes. Believe it or not it’s, “Inch by Inch, it’s a Cinch!” And it’s based on the idea that small, easy successes add up to huge victories. Instead of worrying about making massive changes to your eating habits that you think are what you need to do to get yourself “on track” – or instead of seeing this huge goal ahead of you that, for many of you, actually does nothing but forces you into paralysis, fear and inertia – what I’ve learned through my own experience is that making small, easy shifts in the right direction, starting now and continuing week after week, will have a massive positive effect down the road and get you to where you want to be, with less stress. Small shifts will yield results. In fact, you can even start very small – by trying to drink more water every day for your first week – and continue on from there.
As you stick to your small, healthy and positive shifts, and choose them over less healthy choices, you actually start to change the direction of your health, weight, body composition and energy levels. You are, in fact, pivoting. We only need tiny shifts in our eating and drinking habits today to be completely different in the near future and for years to come.
Hugely successful entrepreneur, businessman and New York Times bestselling author, Dean Graziosi, described this phenomenon perfectly in his latest book, Millionaire Success Habits, when he wrote, “…it’s about small actions that can add up to massive positive effects. No more roller coasters. It’s time to move forward in a straight, sure line.”
A straight, sure line. Isn’t that what we’re really after? Hard choices seem hard and massive because they try to move our “psychological machinery,” as Deepak Chopra puts it, in a different direction. We then encounter internal resistance, like my friend was experiencing with her eating habits. We go through every day driven by habit, counterproductive routines and old conditioning and then those tendencies become hard to break. So the key to overcoming the internal resistance and fear of change that comes with making big, hard choices towards better eating and health (or anything for that matter) is to make small choices instead.
What do these small shifts look like? Can you identify the tiny shifts that can make the biggest impact in your life? You will need a strategy, that’s for sure. Brendon Burchard puts it well when he says: “The time to have the map is before you enter the woods.”
Below I provide a general map for you. These are some ideas for simple, easy, but significant choices you could make week-by-week that will yield big results. As summer officially started last week, and there are 13 weeks of summer (June 21st to September 22nd), I provide a guideline for you to commit to with the aim of being healthier by the end of the summer:
• Week 1: Drink more water than you’re currently drinking. Have a glass of water or a water bottle on your desk or near you throughout the day. Make it more exciting with lemon, or infuse it with berries, oranges or cucumber.
• Week 2: Have a small side salad with lunch and/or dinner (shown in photo). Try to get a good handful of greens in your body by doing so.
• Week 3: Use olive oil instead of Crisco, canola or vegetable oils in your everyday cooking for a dose of healthy fats, and to lessen the amount of inflammatory fat in your diet.
• Week 4: Get more fibre in your diet. Easy ways to do this are to eat vegetables like broccoli, add ground flaxseed or chia seeds to your cereal, or have an apple.
• Week 5: Add a probiotic to your morning routine and take a good quality multivitamin every day with a meal.
• Week 6: Whenever possible, use brown, black or other whole grain rice instead of white rice or even pasta.
• Week 7: If you enjoy alcoholic beverages, then aim for no more than 1 a day, stick to beer or wine, and take it preferably with a meal.
• Week 8: Enjoy your coffee or black tea before 2pm and try to stick to one cup. You may find you’re not even seeking the caffeine bump anymore because of the improvements you’ve already made.
• Week 9: Do your best to replace sodas with alternatives, such as sparkling water mixed with 100% orange juice or homemade iced green tea.
• Week 10: Incorporate a fish oil or flaxseed oil supplement in either liquid or capsule form every day with a meal.
• Week 11: Enjoy alternatives such as dried Medjool dates (sticky, sweet, delicious caramel-like treats and easy to take to-go), Bermuda bananas, healthy homemade smoothie popsicles (shown in photo) or a frozen pineapple, banana and coconut milk smoothie (a.k.a. “Aloha Awakening,” shown in photo) instead of packaged, processed, and less nutritious sweets like cookies, cakes, muffins, donuts and chocolate.
• Week 12: In the meat section of your grocery store, look for meats that are raised organically, not on hormones and preferably “pastured,” meaning that they weren’t raised on a factory farm. Look for organic dairy products too for the same reason.
• Week 13: Get a vitamin C super-boost by having a small kale and banana smoothie every morning or as often as possible.
You see, if you can make just one significant change a week, your progress towards optimal health will be accelerated. Overnight success isn’t the aim here, long term success is. You will start to feel better and more energized, experience less brain fog, your skin may clear up, your sleep may be deeper, your digestion will be improved, your upset stomach and/or heartburn may decrease, you will feel lighter and sharper and calmer, hunger pangs will lessen, headaches may go away, moods may even out. You may start to feel so good that you will not want to ever go back to how you ate and felt before. You will be so proud of yourself every single week for what you have done and every time you show courage and commitment, you build your self-confidence. Building confidence in your ability to make great choices and get yourself on track toward positive outcomes means that soon you will have built the confidence to tackle harder choices, as they will not seem that hard to you anymore.
The best time to change your habits is NOW. Trent Shelton said “If you’re ready for change, you don’t need a new year, you just need a new moment.” Start creating your change today and, trust me, you will be unrecognizable to yourself down the road.
About Agathe Holowatinc
Agathe Holowatinc is the author of FUELLED: Transform Your Body | Enhance Your Energy | Supercharge Your Life (2018). She is a passionate advocate of real food, holistic approaches to health and communicating big ideas in a simple way. Agathe believes that vibrant health is our birthright and that achieving optimal health is the best springboard for achieving all of our biggest dreams. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree with a Major in Communication from Simon Fraser University and an ALA accredited Master of Library and Information Studies degree from the University of British Columbia. She is also a graduate of the Institute of Integrative Nutrition in New York and is trained in modern health coaching, eastern and western nutrition philosophies, and relating the impact of dietary and lifestyle changes on optimal health to others. Agathe loves to cook and has spent 20+ years thinking about how she can deliver food that will actually benefit those who eat it — That will actually FUEL their body. Her book includes a section on education, inspiration and transformation -where you’ll find 105 easy, delicious recipes to boost your health. Find out more at www.fuelledlife.com
Chopra, D. and Tanzi, R.E. (2015). Super Genes: Unlock the Astonishing Power of Your DNA for Optimum Health and Well-Being. New York: Harmony Books.
Graziosi, D. (2016). Millionaire Success Habits. Phoenix, Arizona: Growth Publishing.