The most satisfying thing about being a health coach is watching our participants succeed. But I don’t just mean lose weight or even reverse prediabetes. I also get immense satisfaction from seeing how much insight they each gain along the way. Not just about themselves, but about what it takes to become – and stay – healthy.
That’s why we’re starting a tradition of sharing some of the smartest health tips we’ve got. Not from us coaches, mind you. From our participants. These are some of the brilliant ideas and insights that we’ve plucked (with permission, of course), straight from the conversations between participants within the Omada app itself.
It shows how valuable it is to have a space where you can talk and share as you change. Omada was designed to harness the power of people; being able to learn from others is a big part of why so many of our participants do so well here.
So, ahem, without further ado: some of our favorite participant health tips from the last month:
1. Think “I Don’t”. Not “I Can’t”.
Instead of thinking of yourself as missing out on something, adopt a mindset of power (even if you have to fake it at first). I found it incredibly powerful to think, “I don’t eat french fries.” instead of “I can’t eat french fries.” This puts the control back where it really belongs – with me – and helps remind me that I am taking an active decision to do something good for myself, not just tolerate yet another diet.
2. Eat Food, Not Food Inc.
I realized that the goal of any processed food company was to trick my brain into eating as much of their food as possible. Once I became educated about the engineering that goes into every commercially available food item to make it addictive, from the ingredients to the colors on the packaging, I decided I wanted no part of that. By avoiding commercially prepared anything as much as possible, you quickly start to retrain your brain (and your stomach!) to crave the real, unadulterated foods that nature wants us to eat.
3. Be Lazy.
In order to be a better eater, I need to re-connect with food. The best way to do that, I found, was to be lazy. That meant I’d shop once per week, at a local farmer’s market. Then, each meal would consist of just a few, whole foods really simply prepared. For instance, for breakfast I would eat raw avocado, seeds, egg white scrambled with pepper and herbs. Takes 5 minutes, tastes delicious, and allows me to really see and appreciate exactly what I’m eating.
4. Skip The Food, Not The Ritual.
I used to love drinking wine. In fact, every day after work I’d sip a glass on my back porch as a way to unwind, relax, and reflect. But rather than skip what was an otherwise important moment of my day, I realised that I got almost the same feeling by filling up a big wine glass with sparkling water and fresh lime juice. I used to think I needed the wine, when in fact what I was really craving was a moment of solitude.
5. First Comes Fun.
Changing bad habits doesn’t need to be a slog. And it shouldn’t – otherwise you’ll never keep doing it. So, if you hate running, don’t. Play Frisbee instead (you’ll likely end up running even more). Or, if you don’t like fruit, fine. Look up recipes for amazing, healthy fruit desserts and try making those. If you hate vegetables, try wandering through farmer’s markets to discover some new options (or pick the brains of the people at each stall!). The point is that being healthy is a reward. It needn’t feel like a punishment. So find ways to make every change feel like a pleasure.
6. Embrace Failure.
Any mistake you learn from is actually a success. So when I found myself “failing” by pigging out in front of the TV, it finally dawned on me that I just needed to permanently separate eating and TV watching. Look at your failures and say, “How can I succeed next time?” And then try it out. This is how we learn, this is how things get easier over time.
7. Stack The Deck.
We tend to have less willpower when we’re tired, stressed, hungry, angry, busy, or emotional, which is a lot of the time. Willpower is overrated. Set up your environment with the healthy foods you need, and without the unhealthy ones that will constantly test your resolve. It’s a lot of stress to decide not to eat something 50 times a day. Make yourself a safe haven where you can be at ease.
8. Don’t Start Over. Start Better.
Whenever I fall off the wagon and eat my body weight in Cheese Doodles, rather than get too down on myself like I used to, now I try to remember that I am “starting over” better each time. That’s just a fact. I have more tools and experience than I did the last time. I forgive myself and think about what each little “failure” taught me that I can use for the next time.
9. Don’t Think “Work Out”. Think “Move”.
Getting exercise doesn’t always need to mean I hit the gym. Some days I’m just not in the mood, and that’s okay. When that happens, I just make a point to move more: I haul groceries up the stairs myself. Or, I park further away from the office than I need to. I ask the kids to play tag. I’m learning that the point is just to make moving part of everything I do, not spend my life on a Stairmaster.
10. Ask “Am I Hungry?”.
It sounds ridiculous, but one of my biggest a-ha moments was realizing that I was hardly ever truly hungry – I was just constantly eating. Now, before I eat anything, I take a minute to pause and ask myself whether my body truly needs that food. If I can’t honestly say that I’m hungry, then I know I’m eating because of boredom, or habit, or emotions – and I find other ways to address those issues without food.
Are our participants smart or what? And watch this space: next month, we’ll have another set to share; assuming, of course, I’m not out of a job by then. This is some serious competition!