It is almost the start of 2014, and I have been working on a new workout schedule. I have been doing quite well for weeks and am in a good groove, but I also know that I fall out of good practices at least a few times a year, whether I am super stressed, my routine has changed, I am over-tired, etc. I compiled a list of things that I believe cause or increase my chances of "falling off the healthy bandwagon". Some of these hold more weight than others, and some are much easier to control than other. Stress is on my list, and we know that that isn't always such a piece of cake (mmm, cake) to control, but things like a messy apartment, should be a little easier to tackle. Of course it is ultimately up to us to make good choices for our bodies and minds, but I also know that for some reason, if my kitchen and/or apartment is dirty, there is a good chance my diet isn't nearly as great as if my apartment is tidy.
I found it helpful just writing these points out, so hopefully they might help you out too, if you struggle with keeping a good balance between diet, fitness, health, and/or mental well-being. I am definitely not rigid about my diet and exercise. I don't cut out all of the yummy treats I enjoy, but I do try to keep them relatively healthy most of the time. For example, I sometimes prepare homemade cookies with healthy ingredients, rather than purchasing their packaged high-sugar and preservative-filled counterparts. If there are any points I haven't mentioned, below, feel free to mention them in the comments!
Happy new year and set some exciting goals! Of course any time of year is a good time to keep up or start being healthy, but the new year but be the extra push some of us need.
Here is my top 10 list, in no particular order:
1. Messy Apartment:
I try to keep my place tidy most of the time, but whenever things pile up, my diet tends to get a bit sloppy. I think this is partly to do with the fact that I don't want to create more mess by making food (or there isn't any room because of the dishes...whoops), so I will either get some kind of take out (which is still probably quite healthy, but sometimes it is hard to tell), or I buy pre-made stuff, or just munch on snacks instead of having an actual meal. Once my apartment is clean, it is like I can take a big breath and just feel much more like making yummy homemade healthy meals.
2. Not Enough Sleep:
If I am especially sleeping during the day, it causes me to want to eat more, or I just end up snacking endlessly. This isn't as bad if I am out for most of the day, but if I am at home for all or most of the day, an extra sleepy me will probably have the impulse to eat more than I need. There are some studies done about this here.
3. Not Eating Frequently Enough:
If I forget to eat for too long, or I'm out or at work, once I do get to eat, I am often ravenous and this is one of the times where I may slip and get some less healthy pre-made foods, or I'll snack a lot while I'm preparing food. If I know I'll be out for a long time, I try to think ahead and bring a green smoothie or piece of fruit with me.
4. No Groceries/No Healthy Ready-to-Eat foods in the Fridge:
I try to keep easy grab-and-go foods in the house, whether it is raw carrots, apples, bananas, salads I've pre-prepared, leftovers from other meals, etc. If I don't have anything in the house, or I just have cookies or crackers, then I'll probably go for those.
This one is a tough one. I'm sure there are a lot of you who can relate. If I'm stressed/depressed, it can cause my diet my be all over the place. Stress can make me not want to leave the house, or go to the gym, or to dance class. I don't have any cure for this, but I try to just get myself out of a dark place by pushing myself to go out and exercise. It almost always makes me feel at least a little better. I also try to talk to someone I care about and trust, so I get out some of the stress or negative feelings I may be harbouring.
6. & 7. Not Exercising --> Leads to bad nutrition choices & bad nutrition --> Leads to bad fitness choices:
#6 and #7 are a viscious cycle. If I go a few days without exercising, my diet can go off a bit. If I don't eat well or I eat too much or too many treats, then I don't feel like exercising. It's the the whole "well, what does it matter now?" mentality.
8. Being too restrictive in your diet:
I don't ever completely restrict myself of treats and snacks. If it did, I would surely break eventually and over-indulge. I try to keep some of my favourite treats in the house, like 85% dark chocolate, and dried fruit. I even keep pre-made cookies in the house, but I try to get ones that are relatively healthy. Letting yourself eat some yummy treats in moderation and not guilt-tripping yourself is a good thing to do. You shouldn't have to deprive yourself of everything. I'd rather be happy and healthy with a treat or two thrown in than never getting to enjoy a hot chocolate, cookie, or piece of pie ever again. If you think that you will eat too much if you have a whole box of something in the house, then either make a single serving recipe, give some away or buy something that has to be defrosted so you only take one out at a time.
9. Not giving yourself enough downtime or "me" time:
If I am feeling overwhelmed and haven't had much time to unwind or be by myself, I will feel quite stressed out and feel a bit paralyzed in a way where I won't exercise or do much of anything because of this overwhelmed feeling. I try to be better at not saying yes to every engagement, or filling up my schedule with too much, even if it is things that I enjoy. I give myself some time where I don't have to talk to anyone, or answer my phone or texts. When I have this "me" time, my health and diet is in a much better place.
10. Night Time Eating:
This is something I am consciously working on. I can eat well all day, but once night time comes and I am curled up with my cat and a movie, I get night time munchies and definitely indulge in a little too much. Finding this to be one of the toughest to beat. Any suggestions here are welcome.