You’re tired. You’ve had a long day. The kind of day that requires a long spell in the bathtub, but you’re too tired to take off your clothes …
You were supposed to work out today. You told yourself you’d work out earlier that morning, but you realized that mornings are for breakfast and… well… waking up. So you said, “No, Self, I am going to work out this evening for sure. I am 100% capable.” Ding-dong, evening is here, and you’ve expended the single last ounce of energy you had left taking off your shoes. So you tell yourself you’ll work out in the morning.
So that brings us to dinner. You’re really really hungry. You hear the words “Eat a vegetable” resounding through the hollow library of information in your brain. You know you should eat a vegetable and something lean, but what you really want is lasagne. Your stomach wants lasagne and your body wants to be horizontal on a couch. Your eyes want to be fixed mindlessly on the television. You allow yourself to make all of these choices because you work hard and you deserve it.
What a frustrating cycle. First, the aggressive pressure to better yourself, then the intense urge to throw out all of your junk food in a swell of impassioned motivation, next the inevitable failure to meet unreal expectations. And once you’ve failed, you decide to commit to your failure, so you do whatever the heck you want, which eventually leads to regret and shame. Finally, kneeling at the rubble of your aspirations, you tell yourself that this time you’re really going to do it. And so the cycle continues.
I’m certainly no expert, but I’ve been around the block enough times to know that this isn’t a healthy way to go about adjusting one’s lifestyle. And ultimately, it’s a lifestyle change we need, not a quick fix. Here are three tips from me, your average, slightly lazy female who loves pizza.
Don’t starve. I think one of the biggest mistakes I’ve made in an effort to lose weight is that I’ve deprived myself. Yes, in a short term sense, you might lose weight in that way. But at some point, you will get very very hungry and it’s much harder to make sensible food choices when you’re desperate. Snacking isn’t the enemy, it’s the types of foods you snack on which can make or break your healthy lifestyle. Try munching on nutrient- rich things you enjoy throughout the day between meals, like carrot sticks and hummus or an apple (with a little bit of sugarless peanut butter if you’re feeling adventurous–I’m no doctor, but for me a little fat doesn’t hurt). One of my go-to’s is always a nice nut mix, because it’s filling and doesn’t break the calorie bank when I measure out the appropriate portions. When your stomach is satisfied, you will have a lot more self control. I’m not saying you should be filling yourself to the brim all day long. Just try not to let yourself get famished.
I hate to state the obvious…but… move your body. There are a million ways to stay active without even realizing it. If you live in a city, go exploring. If you enjoy wandering into weird little antique shops or making note of new cafes, walking around is a great way to de-stress while burning calories. If you like to hike and you happen to live around some pretty nature, throw on some boots and take the path less traveled. Go for a bike ride. Go for a swim. Go dancing. Bring a friend. You may not be sweating in the gym, but you’re moving and that’s a great start to changing the way you think about exercise. For me, being active in ways that I genuinely enjoy has made a huge difference.
Be realistic with yourself, and don’t beat yourself up for failing. You probably won’t be able to work out every day, or avoid chocolate forever. If you want to go to the gym, or to the swimming pool, or for a run, whatever floats your boat, sit down and figure out which times you know you’ll be able to do these things, and see how well you can manage. For me, that’s going to the gym every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. I even give myself the weekend off. Because I’ve tried to stick to this routine, it’s almost second nature at this point. And yes, because life sometimes gets in the way, I have missed a day or two. No need to stress, no need to overcompensate. If this happens, just get yourself back on track. I think for me, the biggest regret/shame trigger has always been a big, greasy meal. When I’m eating a really healthy diet, and I go out to a restaurant, my heart sinks at the idea of choosing a salad over that delicious pizza. So I always order the pizza, and in the past, I’ve eaten myself up with guilt over it in bed at night. Now, I try to remind myself that what I’m after are the longterm benefits of taking care of myself, and that also means being able to enjoy a meal with friends.
I think we can all relate to the feeling of wanting to grow and improve. Maybe, like me, you’re a little hard on yourself. It’s good to want more, to want to be happy. And you can be! It’s a decision you have to make, and you are 100% capable. That’s what I’m reminding myself every day.