Make sure your lifestyle change is sustainable

Last modified date

Can you see yourself living like this long-term?

What defines a sustainable lifestyle change, and how does one ascertain whether the changes being implemented will be sustainable in the long run?

In the foreword of 63 Days to Optimum Health, the latest offering from nutritional therapist Sally-Ann Creed, she stresses the importance of sustainability when choosing to follow a particular diet or lifestyle. This was of interest to me because I firmly believe that consistency and sustainability are the keys to success.


Consistency and sustainability are key to making – and maintaining – lifestyle changes, particularly when it comes to losing weight.


While my aim is not to force the Paleo lifestyle on to anyone, I cannot underplay the life-changing impact this way of eating and living has had on my weight, health and overall well-being. It’s also been the most sustainable of the many “diets” I have tried over the years in my efforts to lose weight.

While many people will be scared off by the list of food groups – refined sugar, processed foods, legumes, dairy and grains – which are excluded from Paleo, I prefer to focus on what one does include in one’s diet when following a Paleo lifestyle. Whole foods. Real fruit, vegetables, good quality sources of protein like chicken, meat or fish. And don’t rule out organ meat. It’s incredibly healthy – and largely, affordable.


Most of us know what to do … but change is uncomfortable…

When you look at it that way, it seems pretty simple and logical, right? Most of us already know that it’s better to eat fresh foods that we’ve cooked ourselves, rather than pre-packaged convenience or junk foods.

The difficulty, however, arises when we need to make eating healthily a regular and normal part of our daily routine rather than something we do in earnest only when we need to shed a few kilos.

So, while the “diet” you opt to follow, or exercise you choose to do will be personal decisions, there are a few factors you need to consider, which will affect whether you can stick to this way of life in the long-term.


What do you enjoy?

Feeling forced to eat foods you don’t enjoy in order to lose weight or achieve your health goals, is possibly the easiest way to throw yourself off course. The same goes for exercise. You absolutely have to find something you enjoy or you’re soon going to start looking for excuses not to get moving.


How do you feel when you eat it?

With just about half of the world claiming to be gluten-intolerant these days, I was tempted to not even include this section, but how our bodies respond to food is an important consideration. So, if you feel crap when you drink milk or eat white bread, trying cutting them out for a while and see how you feel. Then reintroduce these foods and if your body responds badly, it’s probably best you avoid them or limit your intake of these foods.


How much time do you have available to cook?

Health advocates largely agree that it’s best to eat foods you have cooked from scratch, using fresh produce. But all of us live busy lives and don’t always have lots of time to cook, so being honest about your daily schedule and the amount of time you’re willing to set aside for cooking, is an important part of the process. Generally, I tend to leave the creation of more complex meals for the weekend, eating simpler, often batch-cooked meals during the week. My quick and easy go-to is a one-pan roast feast – lots of fresh veg, a few potatoes and some chicken pieces, spiced and roasted in the oven for about 90 minutes.


What can you afford?

Organic. Grass-fed. Pasture-raised. Virgin. Sometimes I think all these words are synonyms for “expensive”. Of course, quality matters, but don’t let the cost that these words add to foods, get in your way of trying to live more healthily. Do the best you can, with what you have. The same goes for exercise. If you can’t afford to go to gym, there are lots of opportunities for movement and exercise that won’t cost you a cent.

Chantel Erfort

I'm a yoga teacher and health advocate who runs and enjoys the outdoors. Having previously lived a sedentary, unhealthy lifestyle, nothing makes me happier than being able to share the benefits of including some movement, mindfulness and healthy eating into one's life.