When you’re working toward eating healthier and adventuring into the realm of fitness, it can be easy to forget that there is a world outside of those two things. Focus is great and something we need to have, but too much of anything is not good for you, baby (cue Barry White music. hopefully some of you get the reference).
Don’t let food, calorie counting, working out, charting your progress- all of these things- make up the entirety of your life. You do these things so you can enjoy the rest of your life MORE, handle the challenges that come up with greater ease, and be all around happier. These things help to make you a happier and healthier you for primarily YOUR benefit but also the people around you that you love and care about.
As important as being healthy physically is, being healthy mentally is equally important. The two can go hand and hand and affect one another- but you really need to listen to your heart and soul. Nuture your mental health just as much as your physcial health.
Putting all of your energy and emphasis into caring about food/exercise will only drive you absolutely crazy. I would know. I’ve been there. And my mind occasionally still wanders there. I’m not afraid to admit it. It’s hard not to when it’s something you have to put a lot of thought into.
It’s all about finding a balance between your focus on healthy eating & exercising AND everything else (friends, family, hobbies, other interests- for me, major league baseball and the Real Housewives of New York… just kidding… but seriously)
So you might be thinking- okay yeah Allison, nice thought but how do I actually do that?
Here are some tips that I’ve learned through experience. Below are some things I do when I realize my priorities are outta whack and I’ve been putting too much emphasis on living healthy. Also below is advice on how to snap out of your funk and create a better balance between your healthy lifestyle goals and the rest of your life.
- Write it Out: I carry a moleskine with me at all times in my bag. Journaling and writing out your thoughts/emotions can make a huge difference. I find it brings me back down to earth.
- Look Forward to Something: Have plans and things to look forward to that don’t include food, i.e. catching up with friends, a phone call to a loved one, going shopping, a concert, vacation, holidays- anything that takes the emphasis off food and reminds you that there is so much more to life.
- Set Goals OUTSIDE of Fitness and Weight: While these goals you make with yourself are wicked important, it’s important to also have educational, professional, and social goals. Whether it be saving x amount of money, passing a big exam, getting promoted- use the happiness/confidence you’ve gained through accomplished fitness and weight loss goals to achieve unrelated aspirations.
- Develop a Hobby: Take up something interesting that you have been meaning to try out or go back to something you used to have interest in but stopped doing for whatever reason. Actually start making some of those crafts you see online (or that you’re pinning on pinterest). Reading, knitting, playing instruments- they’re all viable options! For example, I love making things by hand and have a passion for making gifts for people so I’ve been investigating/trying more DIY (do it yourself) activities. I also have been trying to get better/more creative at painting my nails.
- When You’re Low, Remind Yourself of Accomplishments: Don’t forget the challenges you’ve faced and overcome both big and small. Every single one of these accomplishments are building blocks to a healthy lifestyle and you better be giving yourself credit for them! I don’t do this enough and have to tell myself everyday that I’ve come so far and that every choice I make each day matters
- Music: Music brings me to my happy place. Whether you need more calming tunes or something happy/upbeat– just go for it- dance a little bit. Let it all go.
- Breathe and Think Grand Scheme: I don’t breathe right. Yoga has taught me this. I take short breathes and at times feel like I’m not breathing at all because life is just so go go go. When you’re stressing- take ten minutes. Close your eyes and force yourself to take slow deep breathes. Then think about life. Think about everything you’ve done, the ups and downs, highs and lows. Remember what you’ve gone through and remind yourself that life is short.
- Take a Walk Sans Electronic Devices: While it’s nice to always be in contact with everyone, sometimes you forget to just be with yourself. Take a walk to think and clear your head without your phone or your iPod or whatever it is you usually have on you. Set intentions for the week- think of things you want to do better that week that don’t necessarily have to be eating or fitness related. Reflect.
- Combine Eating & Exercise with Your Social Life: Having people around adds a layer of accountability and transparency to your habits. Real friends and your family more than anyone else will check yourself before you wreck yourself. Don’t feel like taking on a healthy lifestyle has to mean you sacrificing your social life. The whole point of it being a lifestyle is that it works WITH your social life. Bring them along for the ride. Make your friends dinner- go to an exercise class or to the gym or for a run with friends. Share recipes and workouts often.
- Alone Time in the Mirror: This is going to sound weird butttt I’ve started doing this recently. As someone who has lacked self-confidence her whole life, this actually helps me. When I’m alone in my apartment or in the bathroom, occasionally I’ll take the time to just look in the mirror at myself and smile. I talk to myself (hear come the judgements- I feel em) and just say literally outloud something like- “Hey, you’re really doing a great job. You’re great.” Forced weird reminders like this to myself are necessary and help me not to be so hard on myself and my body.
- Forced Positivity: In line with my last piece of advice, FORCE yourself to be positive. There are times where it will feel SO fake and weird and annoying but just do it. Don’t think wah my workout is going to be so hard later maybe I won’t do it- tell yourself- you can do anything and that workout is going to be hard, but I’m going to feel AMAZING afterwards knowing I gave it my all. It takes a long time to sort of change your mindset but I’ve been slowly doing it (trust me- I’m a cynical, sarcastic, self-depricating kind of girl) and it actually works. So try. Please. It makes life so much better.
It’s easy to feel like food/calorie counting/exercise/etc. comprise of your whole existence when you’re working toward changing habits. DON’T feel crazy. You’re not. Take a breath (or two or three or four…) and move forward. Stay positive. You’re beautiful and amazing and never forget that life is too short to be this anxious/stressed. Do your best to be the best and truly healthiest you can be. That’s it. Don’t feel guilty- not worth your time. No regrets. Go live your life and don’t let food/exercise control you.