“Next week is going to be really hard.”
“I can’t really do it once school starts.”
“It’s too hard when my spouse is home/gone. ”
“My culture is all about food. ”
“I travel a lot for work though. ”
“It’s too hard to bring my lunch to work.”
“I don’t want to spend all my time thinking about what I’m eating”.
“I can’t exercise because I have a bad back.”
“Healthy food is too expensive.”
These are just some of the things I hear from people when they are asking my advice for living a healthier life. I get it. These are your worries, your unique struggles, the things that stand in your way of it being easier for YOU. It’s great that you are thinking ahead, BUT, don’t let these things make you feel special…that they are somehow insurmountable mountains…things that are so hard , just for YOU, that noone else has to deal with. Trust me, none of your problems related to health or any other area of your life are unique to you. The sooner you realize that, the sooner you will feel relieved!!! They aren’t entirely unique, which means that there IS a solution…a way that you can make it work for YOU. This is GREAT NEWS! If you truly want out of whatever struggle you are in , this should make you feel better, hopeful even.
It is good to be aware of your current situation and limitations, but, don’t let that hold you back from trying. Don’t let the fear of failure keep you from starting. Find a way to change one thing about your day tomorrow. Even if it seems small and insignificant. YOU have the power to change your world . One small change could start a snowball of events that bring about so many things that you have been wanting. Maybe it wont, you say? BUT, what if it will? It’s worth a try!
Living a healthier life seems like such a daunting task, I know. Don’t think about how far you need or want to go, just think about what you CAN do RIGHT NOW. Don’t start with overhauling your entire life in one week. Start with changing a habit and replacing it with something new that helps you reach your long term goal.
Some things you can try :
- Get up 30 minutes earlier every day. Use this time for meditation, preparing for your day, writing down your goals / journaling, etc. This will help you not to stress by running around crazy and late. Start with 2 times a week if you can’t do it daily. Mental health is just as important as physical health.
- Do food/drink swaps: Replace sugary drinks with calorie-free ones ; lower sugar yogurts/fruits/snacks , etc.
- Ditch the condiments. This alone can save a few hundred calories per meal. If you want to swap them out for some better options : plain /dijon / stone-ground mustard, Frank’s Buffalo Sauce, Sirachi, Greek Yogurt Ranch, soy sauce.
- Every time you find your self reaching for something that doesn’t help you reach your goals, stop…pause for a second. Ask yourself if you really want to do this? Are you really hungry? Are you thirsty? Did you decide to have this on purpose ? If so, then go ahead!! It’s ok to decide on purpose to have a treat or something you enjoy….just use moderation and don’t do it on impulse or secretively or because you are upset.
- Save those special foods /indulgences for spending with your loved ones or doing something fun!
- No negative self talk!! This is a HUGE, if not the most important , step in a healthier life .Your mind controls your actions and your body. You cannot truly live a healthier life if you are constantly beating your own self down. The world does that enough—you don’t need to do it too!!! If you aren’t cheering for YOU , who will be?? If you find yourself saying a negative thing, stop and replace it with something positive. This takes practice; you will feel stupid at first.
- Drink more water! One glass as soon as you wake up. One after each meal. One before bed. You can flavor it with fruit or some calorie -free options (like Crystal Light, Mio, etc)
- Do something active every day! Even a 10 minute walk can make a difference. Take the stairs at work instead of the elevator. If you don’t have a 30-45 minute chunk of time at once in your day, it’s ok to break it up!! 15 minutes walking here and 15 minutes walking there still counts!! Turn off the TV and go outside!! Find something you enjoy. It doesn’t have to be a commerical gym. It can be gardening, walking, running, swimming, golf, tennis, weight lifting, yoga,zumba, workout videos…ANYTHING! You can do 10000 jumping jacks in your living room if you want-just be active!! Find a motivational audiobook, podcast, or youtube video to listen to if you get bored.
- Find an accountability person! It could be a health coach , like myself, or a friend , spouse ,your Doctor, an online community / forum, an app that tracks your biometrics (weight/measurements/calories etc), a checklist..anything to keep you accountable to your personal goals.
- PLAN AHEAD!!! If you know you are trying to make more health-conscious choices or you are on a specific time frame for a weight loss plan, don’t set your self up to fail. Example: if you know you have a party /outing to go to Saturday night that involves friends, drinking, eating lots of treat foods etc, don’t lie to your self and say you aren’t going to do it..most likely what would happen is you pep talking yourself to stand strong ahead of time, falling into peer pressure, then beating yourself up about it later. Decide BEFORE you go what you will do and where you will draw the line….” I will have one meal with one dessert and 3 drinks” (and I will have a driver ?) . Then, go there and do that. Space it out. Drink water . Enjoy yourself . Get up the next day and go right back to your original /normal plan. You chose it, you had control before you got there, you left still in control, you aren’t talking terrible to your self and feeling like a failure. Once you practice this, it will become a habit. Example : If you know you are working or will be busy the next few days, make some meals ahead of time. Bring snacks with you. Buy bottles of water and take them with you everywhere. If you will be on the road for several hours of the day, think about where you could stop to eat and look up their menus. The more prepared you are, the less likely you will be to make decisions that you will regret later.
Some health issues are out of our control, but, I truly believe that the other 99.99% of them ARE under our control. Mental and physical well-being is something you can work on every single day. Don’t be a victim of your environment…decide that you WILL do something, and then go do it! It doesn’t have to be more complicated than that.
YOU do have the power . You CAN.
Choose Happy & Healthy Living Y’all !