Your goal is a healthy lifestyle. Your issue is that life keeps getting in the way of that lifestyle. Or is it?
Work obligations, hang time with friends and celebrations with family aren’t detours on the road to a better lifestyle. They’re reasons to get and stay healthy. The energy, acuity and positivity of a better you aren’t meant to be shared with a mirror in the gym, but with everyone in your orbit — even if that occasionally involves a beer and a slice of pizza.
Balance is the key.
What Is Balanced Living?
Balanced living is health focused, but it’s not a number on a scale (e.g., I want to hit my high school weight) or a date on the calendar (e.g., my New Year’s resolution is to be ready for beach season). A balanced life makes time for fitness and health, along with emotional wellbeing, amid the blessings and stressing that work, friends and family can bring.
Approached from the wrong perspective, the components of a healthy lifestyle can become one more stress-creating “thing to do.” A bit of preparation can do much to eliminate that stress and help you find balance.
Reduce (Stress) and Boost (Happiness)
A person who is able to find reasons to be happy along the way rather than seek happiness as a destination is typically better able to tackle tasks and find solutions than someone who sees each addition to a day as a pain point. Here are some tips to prepare you to see potential stressors as opportunities:
- Schedule some downtime: This might mean a weekly massage or a regular Saturday afternoon nap. It could be as simple as getting up a few minutes earlier than the rest of the house for your daily dose of coffee and quiet time.
- Revamp the rote: Turn a shower into a bath; try a new recipe instead of falling back on Taco Tuesday each week; make your daily commute a chance to take in a book on tape or a new podcast.
- Embrace breaks: Don’t wolf down lunch at your desk. Get a bit of fresh air or read an article from your favorite magazine.
- Always be a student: Learning something new — a few chords on a ukulele, how to create a container gardening, or a fresh take on an old hobby — can lead to a supple, engaged mind.
The proper fuel for your body needn’t be limited to a handful of items, tasteless fare or meals that are expensive or time consuming to prepare. Menu planning avoids impulse takeout orders and can help keep costs down. Healthy recipes are the subject of countless cookbooks and web postings. Plus, diet consultants can be a wonderful resource to help you establish healthy habits.
Exercise and Socialize
Exercise isn’t something you have to do, it’s something you get to do. The same goes for outings with friends and family.
When it comes to exercise:
- A little is better than none. Take a short walk when there’s no time for a long walk; try nine holes instead of 18.
- Accountability helps. Consider exercising with a trainer or a running buddy).
- Plan physical activity into your week.
When it comes to socializing:
- Respect others’ choices (and don’t let them disrespect yours).
- View these situations as opportunities to reconnect with important people rather than peer-pressure-laden pitfalls of drink and dessert.
- Know when you’ve gone overboard. Discarding social relationships to obsess over workouts is a red flag. Aim for sustainable, achievable lifestyle changes.
- Make a few friends who share your lifestyle goals. If your old friends don’t understand, they aren’t really your friends.
Have a Quick Forgetter
Bad days happen. So do bad weeks. So what?
Remember, you’re not looking at this as a program that must be maintained. The difference between a regimen and a lifestyle is that regimens, once broken, can cause a feeling of defeat.
A lifestyle doesn’t keep score. Don’t dwell on yesterday’s missteps. Instead, concentrate on what you can do today to be kind to yourself — whether that’s a good workout or a good laugh with old friends. You’ll be amazed at how a positive attitude can radiate toward all areas in a balanced life.