Choosing a healthy lifestyle is not, unfortunately, one of those "set it and forget it" decisions. Don't we all wish it were? Instead, it's a result of many smaller choices we make every day—with every meal. Every snack. And every workout.
You always start the day with the best intentions. You eat a thoughtful breakfast. You pack a sensible lunch, and even remember to bring it with you to work. But then comes mid-afternoon, a dip in energy, and lowered self-control. If you're already in that weakened state and you hear that there are cupcakes in the office for someone's birthday, well, in the words of Donnie Brasco, "Fuhgeddaboudit."
Healthy habits only become habits when you do them more than once.
Instead of setting yourself up to fail, you can set yourself up to make good choices by planning ahead. That will give you a fighting chance to succeed. So where do you begin?
Identifying your weaknesses is the first step. Figure out where you're likely to slip up, and you can take action to prevent it. Here are 10 common problems that derail many of us, and suggestions for how to fight back.
- Avoid eating late at night. Your metabolism slows down when you sleep, so late-night calories are harder to burn off. Fight back: Eat small meals or snacks every 2 to 3 hours throughout the day. Time your meals so that you stop 2 to 3 hours before you go to bed.
- Don't grab fast food on impulse. You're already on your way to avoiding this one if you're eating regular small meals and snacks. You'll keep your brain fed, so it doesn't shut down. Fight back: Pack healthy snacks and bring them with you. These can be simple—a small handful of raw almonds is a better choice than a greasy burger.
- If you shouldn't eat it, don't put it in your shopping cart. Seriously. If you put it in your shopping cart, it comes home with you. And you know it's there. Fight back: It's much harder to eat junk food in a moment of stress or weakness if it's not in your house.
- If you're tempted by junk food, look in the mirror. Think it through—those calories will go somewhere. And probably somewhere you've spent hours in the gym trying to slim and shape. So a bad choice now will just mean more effort later. Fight back: Reach for a piece of fruit instead.
- Don't eat for comfort. If something gets you stressed or upset, take a breath, not a bite. Knowing that you're taking good care of yourself, even when you're down, will help you to feel better more quickly. Fight back: Try calling a friend, taking a 10-minute walk around the block, or playing with your pet. Or working out.
- Find healthy versions of your favorite guilty pleasures. Stock your kitchen with those instead. Fight back: Craving ice cream? A creamy low-fat yogurt could hit the spot. Want the crunch of chips? Try snacking on fresh red peppers, sliced jicama, or baked kale chips (they're easy to make, and astonishingly tasty).
- Pay attention to portion size. You don't need to eat heaping helpings. Fight back: If you absolutely must have ice cream, grab a teacup instead of a bowl. You'll get the taste you crave, but in a much smaller serving.
- Make exercise a priority. It's easy to let it feel optional and get lost in the shuffle. Fight back: Plan your workout schedule for the week and stick to it. If that feels too daunting, start by committing to 1 day. Then try planning for 2 days, and build from there. When you start seeing results, you won't want to stop.
- Just work out—don't ask yourself if you want to. Most people (myself included) would answer "No." Fight back: Just commit, get in your workout clothes, and Push Play. You'll be sweating, happy, and proud of yourself before you know it.
- Must have chocolate? Reach for chocolate Shakeology®. It's made with real cocoa, so it hits that chocolate nerve—as well as providing essential vitamins and minerals to nourish your body, and cleansing prebiotics to gently eliminate built-up toxins from eating processed foods.