Do you feel supported? This question can bring forth many meanings and emotions. For myself – this question is about the ways in which we can support ourselves in being more healthy of mind and body. As many of you can relate, I am in a stage of life that would be termed complicated at best. There are so many great moments and experiences but there are also demands on my time that are less than ideal but are still a necessary part of my life. I recently took a 5 day trip to New Orleans and I focused on having a solo trip where I could focus on myself. It was such a rewarding experience. The message that returned with me to my daily world was that I needed to spend more time learning to make daily decisions that support ME. Making healthful lifestyle choices is just one of the ways that we give ourselves support. And while the easiest solution is to just tell ourselves to adopt a Nike attitude and “just do it”, our lives may be a little more complicated than that.
5 Strategies for Supporting Your Healthy Lifestyle
- Don’t Accept Excuses for Not Being Physically Active – No Excuses/Reasons/Complications – Most of us have many reasons we can draw upon to miss that time we planned to exercise. Plan ahead to deal with whatever complications might pop up. If you know that your day is going to be brutal, make a commitment to wake up 30 minutes earlier and go for a walk or jump on that piece of exercise equipment that has been serving as a hanger. I recently realized that by not exercising, I was not supporting my healthy self. I was also not taking the best care of my loyal companion because he doesn’t get as much exercise when I don’t exercise with him. So, all of our excuses (e.g. time, fatigue, stress) may be valid but should be accompanied with practicing strategies for overcoming those obstacles.
- Don’t Treat Nutritious Eating Like and All or Nothing Game – Healthy eating does take planning but it is important that you adopt a lifestyle plan rather than a “diet” which doesn’t provide you with long term benefits. Healthy eating means finding balance in your food choices that work within your preferences, lifestyle, and individual nutritional needs. For myself, nighttime snacking represents one of my less desirable habits and so I have chosen to focus on ensuring I have appealing options available such as colorful melon, strawberries, homemade yogurt, and frozen fruit for a blender version of sorbet. Healthy eating isn’t about restriction or any unbreakable food rules. Healthy eating is about variety, nutrition, and enjoyment of reasonably balanced meals. My portion control early in the week can help support that lunch with the girls where I want to indulge.
- Be Consistent with Making Healthy Choices – It is that moment when we have eating soooo healthy for two days, we step on the scale and are filled with rage at the lack of evidence (weight loss) that results from our two days of effort. Weight monitoring can give us some feedback but it is more important to be consistent with your healthy lifestyle choices (nutritious eating and physical activity) that to focus on just one scale to measure success. Don’t let one setback or disappointment create a cycle of unhealthy food and activity choices. I set a cardio activity goal to complete at least 21 days of cardio over the next 25 days in order to reward myself with a piece of jewelry (those self-love rings are really calling my name). I am allowing myself to not be perfect and I am rewarding myself with something other than food.
- Healthy Loves Company – Find people to enjoy time with that are also supportive of your healthful lifestyle. This doesn’t mean that they have to have the same goals but it does mean that you can count on them to help you stay on track with your health goals. Ideas include making a walking date with a friend, trying out some healthy recipes, go hiking before the wine festival, or enjoy a leisurely bike ride in honor of springtime. If you don’t have any takers among your current circle, check out meet up sites or local community groups for activities where you can meet people who are interested in being active. Living a more healthful lifestyle isn’t meant to be a lonely endeavor.
- Support Yourself- Stop judging yourself harshly. Is that bite of chocolate cake at the office birthday party really cheating? Are you cheating on an apple? Be reasonable with yourself. Start to pay attention to yourself talk. Is that internal dialogue in your mind being kind to you or is it a reminder of an abusive pattern? Talk to yourself the way that you would talk to a beloved friend who needs your support. Sure, I didn’t make the best food choice today but I have such a great meal planned tonight and I have been keeping active. I know that my good choices outnumber my bad choices.
I hope that you find these tips useful and remember, registered dietitian nutritionist are trained in the provision of individualized nutrition therapy services for assisting you in meeting your health goals.