You get 1 body to live your life in, take care of it.
It is no secret that we have a health crisis here in America. Millions of people are living at an unhealthy weight, and live unhealthy and inactive lifestyles. The healthcare industry is a billion dollar industry. Everywhere you look there are fads, advertisements, the next “quick fix” for obtaining the health you want. To top it off, we are surrounded by images of those with “perfect” bodies, constantly reminded of our own imperfections. Yet, it is so hard to make the right choices for our health. Junk food is more easily accessible and cheaper than healthy food, and health food is expensive and takes time to prepare. With our busy lives, it’s hard to put our health first.
It is easy to become confused, even overwhelmed, when trying to figure out how to live a healthier lifestyle. There are no carb diets, low fat diets, high fat diets, macrobiotic diets, gluten-free diets, paleo diets. Not just the diets, but how we choose and prepare our food: locally grown, juicing, homemade, pre-packaged dinners. How much activity we should get is also up for debate. 5 days a week of moderate exercise, 2 days a week of hardcore exercise, cardio, strength training, cycling classes, zumba classes, home exercise videos, products like the fit board. Aaaahhh, it makes me want to pull my hair out! So many choices, and the list goes on and on. No wonder people become desperate and have no idea where to turn. In a world full of choices, it is easy to become overwhelmed.
Maybe being healthy is easier than we think.
As I think almost every woman has, I have struggled with figuring out the best way to be healthy and stay fit. I have found that, along with almost every other aspect of my life, simplifying the process can make it so much easier and attainable to get healthy. Ditching perfectionism is key in this as well. After all, perfectionism is unattainable and a waste of time. The ultimate thief of happiness.
So how do we simplify getting healthy with all of the products, plans, and NOISE out there? Step 1: anything that gets you up and moving is exercise. Step 2: Practice mindful eating. Step 3: Ditch perfectionism. These may look different for each person, but I have found that simplifying things in these ways have helped me exercise more, eat healthier, and feel good about my health.
Step 1: Get up and get moving!
I have found a way to fit in my exercise that is very realistic and attainable for me. Realistic and attainable are key, otherwise you aren’t likely to follow-through with it because it will seem like a hassle. I have it set in my mind that I will exercise for 20 minutes 3-5 days a week. I always shoot for 5, but typically get in 4 days a week. Everybody has 20 minutes to spare a day, no matter how busy you are. Think about it, are you going to feel super tired if you miss out on those extra 20 minutes of sleep? Probably not.
Making the amount of time short makes me feel like I’m not setting aside an entire block of my day to get this done. Plus, it is less time than I would spend watching 1 episode of “The Big Bang Theory,” which I can watch while I exercise. Score! I don’t even use a home exercise video, I just start doing random things while I’m watching t.v.: jumping jacks, burpees, step-ups, lunges, squat jumps, planks. Anything as long as I’m moving and my heart rate is up to a moderate intensity (i.e. moderate amount of sweating). I set a timer on my phone for 20 minutes, get moving in front of the television, and before I know it I’m done with my workout before Sheldon has figured out why Amy is pissed at him again.
Step 2: Practice Mindful Eating
I have tried several different techniques in the past to help me eat healthier. The best and simplest strategy for me thus far has been to be mindful. Being mindful and conscious of how my body feels. When I’m full, I stop eating. When I’m hungry, I eat. If I want chocolate, I have a little bit. If I feel like a glass of wine, I have one. I’m mindful that I’m not eating crap all day, and that I grab a banana or trail mix rather than a cookie once in a while. However, I don’t count calories, carbs, fat, sugar, etc. That’s too much work for me, and I know it’s not something that I will keep up with throughout my life.
I know some people need a structured diet program to get started and to reteach them good eating habits. I have nothing against that at all, it can be really helpful! I have done weight-watchers in the past, and I definitely saw success. However, for prolonged healthy habits I find that being mindful and listening to your body is the best way to go. We all know we need fruits and veggies, so be sure to fit some in every day. We all know too much sugar is bad, so don’t go overboard. Simple, to the point, and saves a lot of time reading labels and counting numbers so you can get on with the rest of your day.
Step 3: Ditch Perfectionism
Let go of perfect. Quit beating yourself up. So what if you ate really crappy all day (or all week for that matter)! We all go through times when we just feel like eating a whole batch of cookie dough for supper. So what if you didn’t exercise at all this week, you had a busy week! Is it healthy and should we be ok with this all the time? Obviously not, but if it happens just chalk it up to a bad day and move on. We are all allowed these bad days, we are not perfect. If we try to follow a certain plan to the “T” and find that we fall short, often we say “screw it” and give up all together. We go on a 3 week food binge, and end up starting at square one. This is how people end up gaining more weight than they started out at.
Get up and moving, practice mindful eating, and ditch perfectionism. These are 3 key strategies I have found that help me to stay at a healthy and comfortable weight. We don’t need to be a size 3, or 5, or 7 for that matter. There’s no certain size required to live your life! All we need to do is find a way to stay active that best suits us, eat in a way that satisfies our bodies and souls, and ditch the dirty lie of perfection. Full heart, full belly, full life!