Travel can be a significant barrier for those of us that are trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle. But you say, “Matt, I’m on vacation, that means I check the diet and exercise at the door so I can make room for Pina Coladas and long days of pool-side lounging.” BS!! Ask yourself how you felt the last time you spent several days of drinking and eating like crap combined with inactivity.
When you look at vacation and travel through the lens of the healthy person you want to be it becomes difficult to imagine that high school spring break where you lived off of Peanut Butter Captain Crunch and Beer. Like everything we are going for a balanced lifestyle no matter where you are. Keep the basics in mind, find a reason to be active every day and watch the higher calorie foods and drinks.
I have developed the habit of looking for something fun and active to do when ever I go out of town that allows me to experience the place I am visiting. This has resulted in some pretty fun experiences like paddle boarding in South Caroline and a 5K scavenger hunt in New Orleans. There are just as many things to do as a family if you are committed to your self-care and plan ahead just a little bit.
Don’t look now but I think your job is trying to kill you. Adults spend a lot of time at work and in a given week you interact much more with your colleagues in the office then you do with your family at home. Your work environment may actually be one of the more significant barriers to your weight loss efforts.
Think about the extra calories you get from grazing around the break-room or out of the jellybeans jar on your co-workers desk. How often are you hitting happy hour with friends after a long day of wrangling with issues in your department? Your work environment can be detrimental to the healthy life that you want to lead if you allow it to, but you have a choice.
While you can’t control the people around you, you can monitor your actions and decide what will or will not work against you. Don’t allow yourself to throw your hands up in defeat because it is yet another birthday this week with cake. You can choose to have a smaller piece or nothing at all. Don’t worry, gaining the reputation as someone committed to taking care of themselves isn’t nearly as damning as you think.
A S’more; melted marshmallow and milk chocolate between two graham crackers. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I call my newest guilty pleasure the bachelor smore: two graham crackers, Nutella spread on each with a heated marshmallow squished between. It is decadent and a welcomed snack at the end of my day when I am giving into my sweet-tooth. If you are like me and you crave sweet treats dealing with those feelings while trying to make healthier food choices can be a bit of a challenge.
Think about the last time you had the urge to have something that you knew wasn’t part of the plan, did you give into the craving, pass, or do you even remember? Unless it was a really recent event, I am guessing you can’t even remember the last time you had a craving for something. Most cravings are fleeting and if you just give yourself a second to allow the wave of feelings to pass over you will develop your resilience to the urge.
Try this the next time you have a craving:
Acknowledge the feeling, note where the perceived desire is coming from, check-in with yourself and pay attention to any tension in your body.
Set a timer 5-10 minutes and just sit with the feeling. During this time try paying attention to the way you are breathing, the place you are sitting, and the thoughts going through your head.
After the time is up engage in a positive, non food related activity. Maybe you pull up a game on your phone or go to your favorite site on the internet. Shifting to another activity when you have the food cravings will help train your mind to think of alternatives to food when stressed, anxious, or bored.
Jean Loring in Identity Crisis. Art by Rags Morales. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
What goes into your identity; your job title (cat wrangler), the status in your family (oldest of eight), your hobby (extreme world-building). Chances are you wouldn’t include your tendencies toward late night snacking or how you binge on food and alcohol when you are in social situations. Yet, when I tell someone that in order for them to successfully lose weight they have to address these problem areas you would think I was asking them to give up breathing.
Think about how you socialize or unwind at the end of the day, think about the joy or comfort that you get from having your favorite treat, now imagine having that taken away. That twinge of loss that you feel highlights one of the more significant barriers to losing weight and living a healthier lifestyle. If you have had difficulty in the past dropping pounds you might want to look at how you identify with the foods you eat and your way of being. Can you imagine living a healthier lifestyle or are you stuck ruminating about all the things you will have to give up if you committed to significant change?
Take some time today and envision the life you want. Consider what socializing, unwinding and stress reduction looks likes through the lens of a healthier you. When that person is looking back at you in the mirror several months from now I am guessing the sacrifices you made will be worth it.
My clients come to me with the best intentions in the world and they want so much. “I want to have a six-pack,” I want to impress the girl/guy/other of my dreams with my physique,” “I want to drop 5 dress sizes before my wedding next week.” All great intentions but, all the hope in the world is nothing without a little planning to go along with it.
Weigh loss and lifestyle creation, like any journey, is only realized through good planning and consistent follow through. Anything less would be like starting a road trip without a destination in mind, “are we there yet, I don’t know.” Sure, you want to lose weight, that is your destination, but successful individuals don’t obsess about how they will look when they get there, successful individuals focus on the journey.
Take a look at your week, what small behavior change can you make each day to move yourself one step closer to the next 5 lbs. of weight loss?
It’s half-time, your team is down and the coach walks into the locker room to deliver a speech with references to The Alamo, Ulysses S. Grant and Mary Lou Retton. Your team rallies in the second half, scores more points then they have all season and stages an amazing comeback to wins the game.
Now, were the players motivated or inspired? When it comes to losing weight and living a healthy lifestyle motivation will peak and trough throughout the journey. The problem that people will often run into is they look for motivation in the wrong places and bank on buying things like videos, books, personal training or membership to group fitness to keep them going. These things tend to be pretty superficial and while you may feel inspired momentarily keeping the fire stoked is short lived.
True motivation comes from within and is based on significant, heart-felt factors that pulls from areas that are deep inside of you. Think what losing weight and living healthy will mean to the people you love, your long-term health and your sense of being. Come up with a list of deep seated reason why your health is important that you can reference when you are feeling off track.
I often get clients that have been trying to lose weight their entire adult lives and have the diets and workout videos in their wake to prove it. They have struggled for years to one day look in the mirror and see this fantasy person looking back at them, slender with a six-pack and confidence blazing in their eyes. For some, today is not that day. They wince at what they are looking at, maybe even tug at that roll on their waste-line as if they can reveal something better underneath.
I have to ask, what good is it doing you to allow these self-depricating thoughts mess with what you are trying to accomplish? There is no straight set course to losing weight and living a healthy lifestyle, there really is only you giving your all and correcting the course when things aren’t going your way. One of the best things you can do for yourself in this process is to rediscover why you love yourself enough to take the best care possible. It will become harder and harder to go a little heavy on that portion or eat a snack off plan when you ask, “does this work for or against me getting the most out of my body?”
If you aren’t your own best friend maybe it is time to introduce yourself and discover what makes you such a great person. If you don’t, who will?
Raise your hand if you have found yourself saying any of the following:
“I don’t have time for exercise right now.”
“Things just got busy, I will get back around to my diet next week.”
“As soon as I get this project off my plate I will start working out again.”
The mindset that people can adopt around living a healthy lifestyle and attending to their self-care can really work against them. Aren’t you pretty much saying, I don’t have time to take care of myself when you make a comment similar to the one’s listed above?
This is the thing, healthy living isn’t something that you do, it is a way of being that takes your needs into account no matter what is going on. Sure, there are going to be busy times in your life but, there are always things you can do. Maybe a project is dropped on you at work and you can’t get your normal workout in. So, pay a little more attention to what you eat and go for a walk after dinner.
What are your suggestions to those that say they are to busy to take care of themselves?
I have fond memories of block parties, BBQ and fireworks from my childhood for our 4th of July celebration. Holidays can be a pretty interesting challenge for those of us trying to live healthy lifestyles. You battle against sabotaging thoughts steeped in tradition and memories, “it’s OK to eat that extra helping of (insert what ever mayonnaise laden salad your mom makes), it’s the 4th!”
Your secret weapon, choice. So many of the decisions we make come down to that moment when you can either choose in favor of your health or go in another direction. Think about the last time you went to a restaurant, you looked at a menu and struggled a bit between the angus burger or the chicken breast wrap. You have the choice, stay in the moment, consider what you really want out of your lifestyle and choose your health.