I started my first diet 44 years ago, and for decades I searched for the golden diet plan.
The problem with following someone else’s diet, is that we become stupid. We forget how to trust ourselves.
A few years ago, I took on a radically different approach. I yearned to be self reliant in my pursuit of eating well.
Following a diet is easy. But diets, because of their goal to give results in a timely manner, are set up to eventually fail. I was mentally exhausted from adhering to one diet after another.
The transition was a challenge, especially after several decades of yo-yo dieting. The common denominator that that gave me confidence in my own judgement is an unlikely perspective. This perspective is necessary because it gives back self trust, so that we can eat anywhere in the world and manage without fear of not knowing what to choose.
I am talking about gratitude, people.
Modern psychology just recently began recognizing gratitude as a area of study, and so there are numerous definitions of gratitude floating around the internet. But gratitude as a practice has been around for over 2,000 years. Philosophers and spiritual leaders have long advocated for practicing gratitude regularly.
“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others” Cicero (106BC-46BC)
Gratitude is a positive emotion that serves a purpose. What purpose does gratitude serve regarding fitness and nutrition?
Studies prove these 5 effects of practicing gratitude help motivate us to practice healthy behaviors:
Gratitude improves satisfaction:
When we practice gratitude we are more receptive and less neurotic. The more satisfied we are mentally, the less likely we are to self soothe with emotional eating.
Gratitude makes us better at interpersonal relationships:
Improved relationships free up our mind for other things, like making healthy choices without anxiety. A decrease in negative relationship emotions, frees up our brain to make healthy choices more consistently, like ordering healthier restaurant choices, or cooking better meals.
Gratitude makes us optimistic:
Studies show that after 10 weeks of actively practicing gratitude, people are more optimistic about their health and exercise patterns. Believing in the effectiveness of ones health and exercise patterns, can lead to more consistently practicing those behaviors. (80/20 rule simplified)
Gratitude gives us resolve to make better choices and to appreciate our health:
We are more likely to ignore cravings, and make better choices.
Gratitude reduces cortisol:
Cortisol is a stress hormone which is associated with fat storage around the belly.
Practicing gratitude daily costs nothing and takes about 2 minutes. Set aside a brief time (shout out to using a phone alarm) each day to quietly write out what you are grateful for in your day. Some people like to end the day with their gratitude practice, and others (me included) prefer to journal first thing in the morning. Schedule it in and be consistent.
Marinate on this reflection from the Harvard Medical School:
“Gratitude is a thankful appreciation for what an individual receives, whether tangible or intangible. With gratitude, people acknowledge the goodness in their lives … As a result, gratitude also helps people connect to something larger than themselves as individuals – whether to other people, nature, or a higher power”
Investing in two minutes a day to get five massive benefits makes practicing gratitude a bargain behavior that pays for itself over and over again.