9 Tips to Ditch Bad Habits, Eat Healthier and See Results, from Marco Borges
Growing up in Miami, Marco Borges wanted to be a doctor, but after studying biology in college, he decided to choose a different path, one that he felt would help people before they got sick or ever showed up in a doctor's office with a lifestyle-related disease. The founder of 22 Days Nutrition, in partnership with Beyonce, and author of The 22-Day Revolution, Borges said he knew from the age of six that he wanted to help people become healthier.
"I grew up wanting to become a doctor, but I realized our system is so reactive, we were not giving people the tools and resources they need to live a truly healthy life," Borges said. Instead, he decided that he would make it his life's work to give people the tools they need to create healthy habits and specifically help them eat healthier and live disease-free lives. When he wrote The 22-Day Revolution, Beyoncé added a forward and Dr. Dean Ornish penned the introduction, and it became an instant bestseller. Now Borges continues to help people incorporate new healthier eating habits in three weeks.
Borges' journey into nutrition coaching started when he began teaching spinning in Miami, many years ago, and he recalls that he had the false hope that in six or so weeks of spinning, his regular customers would one day walk into the spin studio, transformed. Yet that didn't happen. No matter how much they worked out or how often they showed up at class, their bodies pretty much stayed the same, week after week. The penny dropped and Borges realized that the other half of the equation, nutrition, was keeping these dedicated spinners from shedding fat, losing weight, and becoming lean. He knew he had to shift his focus to nutrition since no amount of sweating will ever make up for what you choose to do with a fork.
"I knew I had a clear vision of how to help people. Movement is one of the pillars of health, but if they come to the class to be social and then they get into trouble outside of class, with poor eating habits, then no amount of exercise can undo a poor diet." Borges changed tactics. "I approached them about their habits around their diets. I worked with an exercise physiologist and decided to ask them to change their habits for 21 days. Forever seems like a long time to ask someone to give up favorite foods or drinks, but 21 days is long enough to incorporate new habits. and by day 22 they have new tools to live a healthier life."
Along with Beyonce, he has helped a list of high-profile clients create healthier habits. Jennifer Lopez, Jay-Z, Pharrell Williams, Gloria Estefan, and Shakira have all sought his advice at one time or another, and Beyonce partnered with Borges on launching 22 Days Nutrition. Here is his best advice on how to hit reset and begin anew with healthier habits that will put you on the road to success, starting today.
1. Take responsibility. You're either feeding disease or fueling your health.
"We are a collection of our habits. Habits are guiding you throughout your life, not just physically but emotionally in every way," he explains." If we can refine our habits, then how empowering is that? And to be optimally healthy, there is no denying it, you need to go plant-based.
"We have to take agency over our health. Every time we eat we are either feeding disease or fueling our health. So the first tip is to take responsibility for what you put in your mouth, and Borges wants you to make a habit of eating plant-based whole foods, whenever possible.
"The benefits of a vegan diet cannot be overstated," he writes, "as it has been proven to help prevent cancer, lower cholesterol levels, reduce the risk of heart disease, decrease blood pressure, and even reverse diabetes.
22 Days' approach makes you realize the power is with you to take control of your health. Heart disease affects more people on the planet than any other disease. And yet it does not need to exist. Yet doctors are not talking about the power of food to make us healthy. What they really should be sharing is how what we put on our forks and plates can prevent disease.
2. Don't get hung up on the past. The best day to be healthy is today, right now
Success is all about your mindset. You have to understand where you are and how to live your best moment. I see people who look back and often they are depressed. Or others who worry about the future, and feel anxious. But you have to live in the moment, You can do something powerful right now to be healthier. Don't say "I'll never have a brownie again," but instead say, "I'm going to eat something healthy now," and see how you feel.
If you start to make a habit of making the best decision you can for your health at this moment, you will be healthier.
3. Set realistic goals, instead of "I want to lose 20 pounds," set yourself up with steps
People say "I want to lose 20 pounds." But that isn't the way to think, even if it's true. If you set yourself up with small, doable steps that you're going to take, success is guaranteed. When someone buys a home, we don't buy it all at once, we make payments that eventually help us own that home. It's the same with diets. You have checkpoints about how you're going to get there. It's incremental but it works. eventually, you've lost 20 pounds but you did it by making smaller, healthier choices and being consistent every day.
4. Never say never. Just say: Not right now. That keeps you from wanting it
I've never smoked, never had a sip of alcohol and I am completely plant-based or vegan. But I don't tell myself: I will never take a sip of alcohol or a puff on a cigarette or a taste of meat. I don't have to. I just tell myself, not right now. I don't want it. And that's what keeps you from craving the things you are giving up for the time being.
A lot of people, what keeps them from ever trying a plant-based diet, is the idea that they feel if they start they have to do it forever, all the way, for the rest of their lives. Perfection is the enemy of progress and the more you eat plant-based the better you're going to feel.
It;'s always been about: How do we get more people to understand that a little bit of trying to eat healthier goes a long way. Some people give up before they start, or think: "I'm going to die of something, so... " They think that healthy eating is all or nothing, is an either-or situation: Either you're healthy or you don't try. But actually, it's "and," meaning you can both enjoy your food and be healthy. You can be healthy, eat plant-based and love your food.
5. Be consistent and don't worry if you mess up and eat a donut, or three
No one ever gained 300 pounds by eating one donut, or even three. But if you throw out all your healthy habits (after an unhealthy meal or indulgence) then that is the problem. You can get attached to your mistake. Instead, let it go. I love financial metaphors for dieting. If you're trying to fix your credit rating and you bounce a check you can figure it out, make it right. But you don't just keep writing bad checks. You get back on track.
6. Walk everywhere and get outside to feel great, if your goal is to get back in shape
You also can't make up for bad habits all at once. If you haven't exercised in five years you can't go to cross-fit and workout until you blackout. Just start walking everywhere and build up to good habits of moving more and getting back in shape. Walking is the number one activity in the world, but we Americans don't do enough of it. We sit all day. We sit in our chairs to work and then we sit in our cars to go to the store and then we sit again to eat and to watch TV. We spend most of our lives sitting, usually in artificial light. Then we wonder why we don't feel so great. Get outside and start walking. You will find your start to feel better.
7. Pay attention to what you put in your body. Don't ruin your efforts with junk
If you put bubble gum into your computer charger outlet or Coke in your phone, you'd ruin it immediately. If you took a little time to see what you're putting into your body and how fake it is, it would blow your mind. When you get rid of junk food, processed food and eat a diet of whole food that is plant-based you are going to like what you see in the mirror, and when you like what you see, you treat yourself and others better. Treat yourself better now.
8. Listen to your authentic self, and help others join you on your plant-based journey
When I went plant-based as a first-generation Cuban American, my mother, who was born in Cuba, told me she was worried I would get too thin. First I told her I wasn't going to be a doctor and I had other ways I wanted to help people. Then I told her I was going plant-based and it blew her mind. Now she is plant-based, and so is my brother, my sister, my wife, and our four kids, who have been plant-based since birth.
When people ask me, "How do you do it?" I say it's easier. I've been that guy at the party, where I'm the only one not drinking, but I'm having as much fun as anyone. And I don't have a hangover the next day, or 5 to 10 pounds to lose. It's the same with food. I walk away from a meal feeling awesome about what I've just eaten.
9. The goal is not just to live longer, but to live healthier and happier
People talk about all these biomarkers and researchers are studying how we can live to 100. But I only want to live to 100 if I can keep going in the best of health. Trillions are being spent by pharmaceuticals and labs to come up with new therapies and drugs to irradicate every major lifestyle disease, but we could have prevented these diseases ourselves if we just ate healthier. It's actually so simple.
Living healthier is the goal, which is why 22 Days Nutrition is a platform to help empower people to adopt a plant-based lifestyle and walk away with actionable tips. We want to help them on the road to a plant-based lifestyle. If I can create some plant-curiosity, then we've won.