The beef I have with most healthy eating articles is their “come on, you can do it too…and if you can’t it’s just not important enough to you”, self-righteous kinda vibe. As people, we feel enough shame… body shame, self-generated guilt, working parent guilt, and all of the pressures to juggle it all.
I hope you’ll find this article to have a different tone. I’m not here to tell you what to do. I’m here to present you with ideas, and leave it up to decide when and how you want to take action toward change. No guilt, no shame. On that accord here are:
5 Easy Ways Busy People Can Embrace a Healthy Lifestyle:
1- Ditch perfectionism- A telltale sign that you are stuck in the perfectionist trap is if you have an “all or nothing” mindset. One week you’re meal prepping for hours and every meal is meticulously planned, and the next week you’re flying by the seat of your pants beating yourself up for not giving it your all. You might be a less extreme version of that, but you get the point.
Even if you have a week where you are on fire and doing things to a perfect plan, it’s important to recognize this may not be sustainable. When you have weeks where you feel like you don’t have it together, it’s important not to beat yourself up. If you hold back from negative self talk, you will begin to feel better (because our thoughts have a direct impact on how we feel).
If you feel better, from not beating yourself up, it will be easier to change course and take a step in the right direction. If you identify as a perfectionist then number 2 is for you.
2- Focus on 1 small thing at a time and celebrate every win- This is an oldie but goodie piece of advice and way more valuable than you probably think. You see, taking small steps can feel pointless to a perfectionist, as if it’s not enough. But if you keep building 1 small habit after another, and celebrate every positive step– big or small, they will eventually lead to a lot of healthy habits.
You likely have a lot more years on this planet. Wouldn’t you rather build a healthy lifestyle over time that will stick with you for life, then to fall into the all or nothing mindset? If you build a new habit every 1-3 months, after a year you could have a lot of healthy habits in place.
It’s best to start with small things you know you can achieve. So rather than say you are going to pack a super healthy lunch every day, start with just adding a vegetable to your typical lunch. Or if you want to eat a plant based diet, don’t transition too quickly. Start with 2-3 vegetarian dinners per week. Then as you get more comfortable with recipes you can start including more meals.
20 minutes a day of exercise on a consistent basis is much better than going to the gym every day for a week then not going for 2 months. One small thing at a time that you know you can achieve then build from there.
3- Ditch diets- Your body does amazing things for you every day. It’s okay if it isn’t the size or shape society and diet culture says it should be.
Furthermore, weight and health are not as connected as we once thought. If you tend to choose foods because they are low calorie or are allowed on certain diet plans, see if you can shift your choices to be more intuitive and less “according to the rules/plan”.
What and how much do you need to feel energized, comforted, satisfied, or whatever you are looking to get from food at that time? This mindset will help you to be more consistent in your food choices and help alleviate any food guilt that might be draining your energy.
4- Make time for fun- You’re busy, I get it, and you might be exhausted too. But think about this, how many things do you do on a regular basis that drain your energy? Probably a lot.
If you are always doing things that drain your energy, you are just going to run out. Adding things into your life that are fun may not bring you more time, but they will recharge you so the less fun stuff isn’t so draining.
Aim for small ways to have fun daily, like funny memes or chatting with friends with the intention of not complaining but rather having fun. Then take it up a notch by adding in bigger bouts of fun on a regular basis like a weekend trip, a night out, date night, or a day trip to visit a new place.
Fun and laughter really is the best medicine.
5- Check yourself before you wreck yourself- Before embarking on any path of change, it is vital that you take some time to really think through what you want and why you want it.
If you don’t take the time to get clear on what you want at this particular time in life then you might end up just beating yourself up if you fail, when the real reason you failed to begin with was that deep down other things were more important.
It’s totally okay if working late so you can get that promotion trumps going to the gym for the next 3 months. Though I still encourage you to find a way to participate in regular movement as it will help you to feel your best and perform better. Start small if you need to and re-read number 2 above. Only you know what is right for you at that time.
If living a healthier lifestyle is what you truly want to focus on right now, then you have to make that become a core part of who you are, not something you are temporarily doing to reach some sort of goal. Back to number 2 again. Small progressive changes are more likely to stick long-term than radical unsustainable changes that leave you feeling inadequate when you can’t align your values with your actions.
Let us know below what nugget from this article you found most helpful and how you have implemented it into your life.
- What is Diet Culture? - September 15, 2020
- The Biggest Mistake People Make When Trying to Eat Healthy - July 5, 2020
- How to Ditch the All or Nothing Diet Mentality - May 19, 2020
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