"It doesn't have to be all or nothing, you know." The words hung in the air like some sort of speech bubble. It felt revolutionary. I had learned that my health insurance policy came with free consultations with a health coach.
Like many women I knew, I'd been putting myself last and the result was a body that felt sluggish and unwell. I'm just over 5 feet tall, so the 30 pounds I'd kept from my third pregnancy made a huge difference in my frame. My joints ached when I moved. Something had to give, but I couldn't imagine giving up grains forever or even a week, let alone not eating ice cream ever again or other horrific things the Internet told me about "healthy" diets.
But my health coach listened to all my concerns, and then she listened to all the reasons why I couldn't fit exercise into my life and all the reasons why I couldn't just start eating a total Hollywood diet. And then she just dropped this wisdom bomb on me. "It doesn't have to be all or nothing."
I think hearing it from an impartial third party made it feel so impactful. Then we talked about one small change I could make each week, just one healthy choice.
We started with milk.
I like to drink 2 cups of coffee in the morning, and I like about a 2:1 milk:coffee ratio. She asked what milk I'd been using and I told her whole milk. Because my kids drink whole milk and that's what is easiest to buy. "Hmm," she said. "Could you switch to 2%?"
I thought about this. My boys really need to gain weight, and their pediatrician recommended I serve them whole milk. "If I did that," I told my coach, "I'd have to buy 3 different kinds of milk each week at the grocery store."
"Ok," she said."
"My husband is lactose intolerant," I told her. "That'd be soy milk AND whole milk AND milk for me."
"Ok," she said again. And so I went to the store and bought 3 different kinds of milk.
The next week we talked about all the reasons why I don't eat salad, and she told me my vegetables don't HAVE to come in salad form. I could eat them with my other meals and it still counts as eating vegetables.
Really what she did each week was find the thing that had me stuck when it came to making healthy changes. I don't have time to go change into workout clothes and then shower on a work day, so I wasn't exercising at all. But she reminded me that walking around the block still counts as exercise, and doesn't necessarily warrant a costume change.
Slowly we chipped away at my barriers, talking always about small things I could do to make healthy choices. You know what happened? All those small things added up to huge differences. I can climb stairs without getting breathless. I lost 20 pounds over 6 months. I doubled the amount of weight I could lift--once I worked my way back to lifting weights. My bones just feel better, let alone my heart and other organs.
I only talk to my health coach every 6 weeks now, but we are still chipping away, figuring out small changes with big impact. Next up on my agenda: figuring out how to make myself go to bed earlier every night!
What small changes have you made toward healthy living? Leave us a comment to share your steps!