Do you find yourself starting each day (month or year!) with the best of intentions about your diet and lifestyle – yet somehow the real world gets in your way and everything goes wrong?
- Your boss drops a pile of urgent work onto the already huge urgent work pile
- One of the kids has to have a costume for a friend’s fancy-dress party
- The Dad’s taxi rota falls apart and you have to fill-in or disappoint everyone
- Your partner unexpectedly invites work colleagues home for a “quick bite to eat”
- An elderly relative has a fall and you want to help with their shopping
- Fill in the mini-crises in your own life that get in the way of that healthy lifestyle you know you should be following
So instead of an hour’s work-out at the gym followed by cooking the fresh food you bought on Saturday, you grab a take-away and slump on the couch with the TV, then throw the now-mouldy veggies away on Friday.
We all know why we want a healthy diet and lifestyle.
- Reduce the risks of heart disease, cancer, diabetes – the science proves it
- Lose weight and stay slim
- Better skin condition
- Reduce joint aches and pains
- Improved mood
- Stop those migraine and tension headaches
- Stop the pain and embarrassment of indigestion, constipation, gas/wind
- Have more energy
- Sleep well each night and wake up refreshed every morning
But somehow, faced with the reality of every day life it never quite works out that way.
I’ve always been impressed with those people who seem able to cope with everything, cook healthy meals, stay super-slim and balance the spinning plates of work and family life with such apparent ease.
Perhaps you have tried and failed to follow their example? If so, it’s not your fault, and you are certainly not the only one trying to juggle modern-day stresses and family life. Have you ever considered that you are just trying too hard? It’s a cliché, but Rome was not built in a day and setting yourself small achievable targets might be a better answer than a complete blitz that’s doomed to failure, followed by a relapse to your old ways.
So how can you get started on the road to a healthier diet and lifestyle?
The first step is to evaluate exactly where you are on the road to a healthy diet and lifestyle. Then you can face the facts.
Keep a diary for a week, in which to record what you ate, why you ate it, your mood at the time, how much exercise you took – and record what stopped you from taking the healthier option each time. This is not so that you can start blaming yourself, or anyone else. The purpose is for you to be able to pick one or two specific areas that you would find manageable to tackle.
So, instead of having a nebulous goal to “be more healthy” you can pick much more targeted mini-goals, such as:
- Instead of buying biscuits for the store cupboard, buy fruit for the table
- Set off a few minutes earlier and walk with the kids to – somewhere – instead of taking the car and fuming in traffic
- Have at least one evening a week when the whole family sits down to a healthy meal, let everyone take turns at picking their recipe (and maybe even cooking it)
- Buy brown, whole-meal bread and rice instead of white
Make your goals manageable, and when your first small steps are just part of the daily routine, look for the next changes you can make. Before long you won’t even notice the number of changes you have made, yet you’ll be feeling so much better you won’t want to go back to the way things were.
My family still don’t believe that (occasionally!) I crave a salad or fish instead of chocolate. It even takes me by surprise. Of course I still allow myself the occasional treat, and so will you, but they are treats, not habits, in the context of a generally healthy lifestyle.
Get started with that diary today, make one or more changes for a week, then each week after that pick the next change. Revisit your diary in three months time and see how much progress you have made – you’ll be amazed.