Ever wonder what makes up a Healthy and Sustainable lifestyle? Over the next few blogs, we are going to go over the “Hierarchy for a Healthy Lifestyle”, that we at YQL Nutrition use to empower our clients to look, feel, and perform their very best with an approach they can feel confident in doing for a lifetime.



When making any plan, it

Must be Individualized to the Client’s Goals, Needs and Preferences.

If a coach suggests to you a one size fits all meal plan, RUN. This plan must be tailored to you, for it is you who has to be adhering to it! Indeed, a client’s ability to adhere to a nutrition plan is the greatest predictor of success in hitting goals, such as weight loss (4). We as coaches refer to this as a client centric approach (5): it is our duty as coaches to understand where you are at in your journey and how we can help you succeed!

For example, what is your goal? Is it to feel a certain way, ie. confident? Is it a certain size, for example “x amount of lbs” or size “6-8”? Is it to build muscle? Fuel athletic performance? Develop a healthier relationship with food? Ultimately, what is it that YOU want?

Why does what YOU want matter?

As previously stated, we need ADHERENCE to a plan for it to be successful.

External, superficial rewards are unlikely to support the long-term consistency needed for achieving your goals (3).

Individuals following a plan because it was “trendy” or promises quick results typically relies heavily on will power (“white knuckling” your way through the plan), and although they may have short-term results, these results are not sustained. This is due to a lack of intrinsic motivation- Meaning, this goal on a deeply personal level, lacks meaning. For example, why is it that individuals have extreme difficulty sticking to strict low-fat or low-carb diets, but countless millions throughout the world rigorously stick to kosher, halal, or vegan diets?

It is because these diets (halal, vegan, kosher) are in alignment with their deep, ethical, and intrinsic goals or values (3). These individuals have a “why” behind their actions, and are deeply connected and in-tune with this “why”.

Are you struggling to find your WHY? Do you know there is a behavior, or lifestyle element you’d like to change, but not sure what your deep motivation is? Try this exercise below:

Now that you know your why… how do you use this to get to your goal?!

We preach long-term success, and therefore, this plan must be something that is not a quick fix, but rather emphasizes the consistent building of habits and resulting behavior change. As stated above, this is what leads to attaining your desired goals!

Behaviour and Lifestyle

(Stress, Sleep, Hydration, Recovery)

Therefore, behavior and lifestyle changes are the foundation of our healthy lifestyle hierarchy. I know, this isn’t glamorous. It isn’t sexy. It is hard, and it is not a “30-day quick fix”. But, if you put the work in to change your mindset, behavior and lifestyle, you will set yourself up for a lifetime of success.

What mindset changes am I talking about?

Have you ever been on a diet, and then eaten a cookie? A cookie that you “shouldn’t have had”, or any other kind of “off-limit foods”? After you ate the cookie, what did you do next? Often, we get into these cycles of negative and self-sabotaging thoughts such as an “all or nothing approach” (3).

For example, because a person indulges in a cookie, they then continue to eat the whole box of cookies because “the day is completely blown”. Then, the next day, they return to the strict, restrictive diet with rigid food rules the next day.

Do you see the problem here?

“Many tendencies that promote initial weight loss are unrealistic over the long term. For example, many patients aim to make large, absolute changes in an all or non-fashion via rigid rules, such as aiming for no carbs or very restrictive intake. Much as a sprinter can run all out for a short race, but not for the entirety of a marathon, expecting strict, all out efforts and clear-cut, black-and-white outcomes over the lifelong management of obesity is a recipe for frustration and failure.” Hall and Kahan (2018)

Society has normalized rigid food rules, making it difficult to see an alternative when we go slightly off plan. Instead of fixing the issue at hand and getting back on track, we label ourselves as a “failure” and often give up…. it’s like having one flat tire and instead of pulling out our tool kit, we continue to slash the three remaining tires.


What is the alternative?

Mindset changes involve learning to accept that rigid expectations and “perfect” adherence to goals is unrealistic (3). Rather, it is CONSISTENCY over perfection that creates lasting, sustainable results (1,2,3,4,5). It is about getting back on track when things go off-plan. The ability to do this, to get back on track and adapt to change is referred to as cognitive flexibility, and is viewed as being essential for developing long-term, sustainable behavioural change (3).

Why is consistency so much more important than perfection?

Because consistency compounds, and eventually, leads to HABIT formation (1).

Stay tuned for the next part of our Hierarchy series, where we will discuss habit formation and how this is KEY to long-term sustainable results!

If you are interested to see how we can help you reach your personal or lifestyle goals, we invite you to book a free nutrition consult. For more ways to connect with us; follow us on Instagram:



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  1. Cleo, G., Isenring, E., Thomas, R., & Glasziou, P. (2017). Could habits hold the key to weight loss maintenance? A narrative review. Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics30(5), 655-664.
  2. Endevelt, R., & Gesser-Edelsburg, A. (2014). A qualitative study of adherence to nutritional treatment: perspectives of patients and dietitians. Patient preference and adherence8, 147.
  3. Hall, K. D., & Kahan, S. (2018). Maintenance of Lost Weight and Long-Term Management of Obesity. The Medical clinics of North America102(1), 183–197. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.mcna.2017.08.012
  4. Herouex, M., Watt, M., McGuire, K.A., Beradi, J.M. (2017).  A personalized, multi-platform nutrition, exercise, and lifestyle coaching program: A pilot in women. Internet interventions, 16-22
  5. Precision Nutrition Coaching Resources, Retrieved from: https://www.precisionnutrition.com/how-to-fix-your-number-one-coaching-frustration