If someone were to ask me what I’ve found most challenging in maintaining a healthy lifestyle, it would have to be finding that sweet spot between structure and flexibility. A little bit of structure can help us form and maintain healthy habits whilst a little bit of flexibility in our mindset can help us maintain a healthy relationship with food and exercise. The thing is, sometimes we find ourselves leaning too much either way. Either we get swept up in being structured where we start to place too many restrictions on ourselves and get frustrated when we don’t eat ‘perfectly’ or we get swept up in being overly flexible to the point of complacency and we find ourselves slowly falling off the health bandwagon. To be honest, I have most certainly been in both of these places before… A couples of times actually ha! So, I thought I would list a few little tips and tricks for you guys to get you back to the sweet spot for whenever you feel like you’ve lost your way.
Things to remember when you’ve become too structured/restrictive:
- A healthy mind is just as important as a healthy body. Don’t forget that being in a constant state of stress/guilt/frustration over food is just as, if not more, unhealthy then treating yourself every now and then. According to the APA, constant stress can negatively affect your musculoskeletal, respiratory, cardiovascular, endocrine, gastrointestinal, nervous and reproductive systems.
- Life shouldn’t revolve around food. Don’t get me wrong, I love food as much as the next person, but there does come a point where this can tip over into obsession. If food is taking up most of your thoughts and even putting a damper on your social life (A.K.A you’re avoiding social events because you fear there won’t be anything healthy), then it’s time to change things up. Hell yes health is important, but it shouldn’t be at the cost of your happiness. Firstly, get to the root cause of why you might be doing this – maybe you’re over compensating for the fact that you feel like you’re losing control in other aspects of your life? Or do you genuinely just want to be healthy so much so that you’ve gone a bit overboard? Being aware of the underlying problem can help you work through it. Secondly, loosen the reigns a little bit. Perhaps channel your energy into fun hobbies and projects instead? And next time you’re at an event, just focus on enjoying yourself and other people’s company and hey if you happen to indulge a little that’s ok 😉
- Being healthy doesn’t require cutting out food groups or counting calories. Give up any restrictive behaviours that aren’t medically necessary because they will most likely not benefit your health or your relationship with food. Cutting out food groups can lead to missing out on important micro and macronutrients that are vital for your body to function at it’s best. Plus, counting calories can often make us fixate on weight and numbers rather than how we feel on the inside. If you really need to know the caloric value of foods (e.g. when trying to lose/gain weight), check out the app MyFitnessPal, because it not only does all the work for you it also shows your daily macro- and micronutrient levels!
- All food is neutral. Try not to label food as ‘bad’ or ‘good’ (or anything similar to those two words) because every time we do this we add some sort of moral value to it. So, when we eat foods that we have categorised as ‘bad’ we feel as though we’re doing something wrong by eating it. Although some foods are obviously healthier than others, try not to have a moral and emotional attachment to them – think of food as being neutral!
- There is no such thing as perfect. Take it from a perfectionist, chasing perfection is one of the quickest routes to unhappiness. Why? Because perfect doesn’t exist; you will constantly be chasing something that is not real and you’ll get short-changed every time.
- Mix it up. The best way to loosen up your controlled and structured ways is by changing your routines up, trying new things and altering your perspective.
Things to remember when you’ve become too flexible:
- To create and maintain healthy habits, you have to be consistent. So reconsider your priorities, create a schedule and make a commitment to yourself that you will follow through with it every day. It’s always a little difficult getting back into the swing of things but it will become second nature again before you know it!
- No hard feelings, it happens to the best of us. There’s no point in beating yourself up about falling off the bandwagon, life happens! Now just forgive yourself and carry on working towards your goals.
- You have to refresh your motivation every day. I LOVE the saying by Zig Ziglar that goes, “People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.” And I think sometimes we forget that, we think that because we’re not automatically motivated every day then we’re simply unmotivated in our nature, but the trick is refreshing our motivation every day. This could mean a number of different things to different people, but here are some examples: set goals that will give you some direction and something to work towards; listen to a song that motivates you; create a health-inspired moodboard; every morning remind yourself why you want to live a healthier lifestyle; follow people on social media that motivate you; look up healthy recipes; educate yourself and upload inspiring photos/quotes as your computer/laptop/phone wallpaper.
- Hard work always pays off. Ok yeah, you’re going to have to put some effort in, but oh my goodness will you feel amazing from it.
- Baby steps. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing, you can slowly steer yourself back on track little by little. Trying to change too much all at once rarely gives you sustainable changes.
- Accountability partners can keep you on track. This one isn’t necessary, but a lot of people find it easier to stay on track when they have someone to keep them accountable. Do you know someone with similar goals who you could workout with? Or maybe someone that can simply be your cheerleader?
- Focus on how good ‘healthy’ feels. Listen to your body and pay attention to how foods make you feel. You’ll no doubt find yourself feeling so much better after something healthy than something not-so-healthy 😉
- Look at how far you’ve come. There’s nothing like looking at what you’ve achieved already to give you that kick up the butt you need to get back at it. Besides, if you’ve done it before, you can totally do it again. You got this!
- Look after your body because you respect it. One thing that always amazes me in my studies, is just how much goes on in our bodies every second of every day just to keep us alive. It’s honestly mind-blowing. So I like to think of taking care of my body a sign of respect and gratitude for everything it does!
Now I have one last tip that could be included under either subheading and this is awareness. It’s not until we are aware of our behaviours and thought processes that we have the choice to do anything different. If we work towards being mindful of the things we do as opposed to just living life on autopilot mode, we can actually see where we might be going wrong in that very minute and then choose to act or think in a different way right then and there!
Ok so I think that’s everything I wanted to share in today’s post! Have you guys experienced this for yourselves? Do you have any other tips that you’ve found helpful? I hope you’re all having a wonderful week! xxx