Eat This: Food Rules for Rebels

 What does living a healthy lifestyle mean exactly? It’s a bit of an opened ended question, isn’t it? Does it mean you go for a run every day? Do regular yoga and meditation? Do you feel like you tick the healthy box when you eat your greens or have enough fibre? Where would self-care fit? Or 8 hours of sleep?

A rather specific point of all of this healthy living stuff is to feel good. I guess that could open up a can of worms on what feeling good looks like, but you get what I mean, right? When it comes to food, fitness and how you feel, do you follow the so-called ‘rules’ or are you a rebel? Listen in for a firecracker of a feel-good expert, an award winning and best selling author, and a fitness expert today on EAT THIS with Lianne: Food Rules for Rebels.

My view of a healthy lifestyle involves the mind and body connection. Not to go all woo on you here, but it’s more than listening to the latest guru about eating goji berries and drinking hemlock tea (please don’t do that). It’s actually about listening to yourself; exposing yourself to new ideas and information; doing the work, like listening to this podcast. And then making choices – from what you eat to the choice of movement. Whether it’s a HITT or rowing class, yoga, a nature walk or swinging a kettlebell for 10 minutes. The time that you spend on yourself in self-reflection and meditation. Being aware of your own feelings is NOURISHING to YOU. Even eating a chocolate bar and a binge watching on the couch can be nourishing if you can let yourself do it without guilt and really feel good within yourself after. The choice that you make is mindful, intentional and fuels you to where you FEEL GOOD.

I recently read an email from a colleague and friend that got my attention. The email subject line was Food Rules for Rebels. How exactly does that fit into a healthy lifestyle? What struck me was the mention of scarcity – the mindset that holds you back and says no, you’re not going to eat or do that because of whatever story you might make up (it is going to make me fat would rank up there, I’m sure). For me, I don’t eat certain things because I know they’re not good for me. Does that create a scarcity mindset around food? It is something that I’ve asked myself more of late. My guest today has an interesting take on healthy lifestyle and eating, make sure to tune in for Oonagh Duncan’s expertise!


Oonagh Duncan is a multi-award-winning fitness expert, author of the international bestselling book Healthy As F*ck (Ditch The Diet, for US audience), which was just named one of the top 100 Fitness Books of All Time by Book Authority. In it, Oonagh helps people get healthy and happy through a habits-based approach.

Oonagh is the founder of the Feel Good Movement, which recognizes that fitness is not about a number on a scale- it’s about feeling good. Because if you want to reach your highest potential and generally kick ass at life, it starts with feeling good right now.

To feel good, Oonagh likes green smoothies, kitchen dance parties to 90s hip hop with her kids and sharing her knowledge and experience to help people FEEL GOOD.

Order her book for the $300 in bonuses from recap some of what Oonagh shared, check out the below and let me know your REWARD in the comments.

The formation of a habit happens in three parts:

  1. Trigger: This is what sets off your behaviour. It could be a time of day, a person, a place, an emotional state.
  2. Behaviour: This is the actual habit. Habits can be super simple, like putting on your seatbelt in the car, or saying ‘bless you’ when someone sneezes.  They can also be complex, like driving home from work or changing a diaper and nursing in the middle of the night.
  3. Reward: this is the positive feeling you get from executing your behaviour. It could be physiological (like my beloved caffeine rush when I have my morning coffee) or psychological (like a feeling of social connection when I check my phone as soon as the text notification goes off).

This Trigger-Behaviour-Reward sequence is known as the Habit Loop.


This is the part of the habit loop that many people resist. We think that the cultivation of a good habit is reward enough. We don’t need a lollipop to go to the dentist. But actually – yes we do. There are tons of studies that show that rewards are highly effective to reinforce positive behaviors. Without the reward the loop is incomplete and the behaviour will always be an effort instead of automatic. This is the way our brains work so just roll with it and reward yourself.

The trick here is to think of what makes you feel rewarded that is a health positive behaviour (or at least neutral). If your new habit is to go for a 30 min walk after dinner but your reward is to then drink Labatt 50 until you pass out…I don’t know if you are going to end up ahead of the game.

What feels like a treat that isn’t going to set you back? When I first started exercising, I allowed myself to watch WHATEVER HORRIBLE MIND ROTTING CRAP I wanted as long as I did it while power walking on a treadmill. I caught every paternity test on Maury Pauvich and furtively turned up the volume on Grease 2. Now I exercise because it makes me feel amazing immediately afterwards but that wasn’t always the case. It used to totally suck. But it definitely sucked less when there were exciting moments like this:

A good reward should be:

1. Something you can deliver during or immediately after: Promising yourself an afternoon nap for going to Bootcamp won’t feel satisfying at 7am.

2. Something real: You can congratulate yourself internally but it’s better if you physically check off a box or toot your horn on Facebook or high 5 a friend)

3. Something you actually like: If you try rewarding yourself with a kale smoothie your brain will  probably call bullshit.

Only you know what will make you feel rewarded, but here are some ideas:

  • Download new music
  • Use an app that tracks your progress and (even better) posts it for social accountability
  • Make the exercise social by involving friends
  • Allow yourself 10 mins in the sauna in your gym or a quiet sit on a park bench after your run
  • Some guilt-free online window shopping/Pinterest browsing
  • Alone time with a great book
  • A Skype with a long distance friend
  • Invest in a Fitbit or some other cool gear

Now that you’ve figured out your reward, you have your custom designed Healthy Habit Loop!

What are you going to use?

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