Having a healthy lifestyle isn't difficult; however, it requires a bit of preparation in order to maintain it on a day to day basis. Many people give up over time because they don't know how to bridge the gap between their long term goals and their short term reality. Here are some helpful tools to encourage you to plan for success one day at a time:
If you find yourself consistently getting less than 7-8 hours of sleep a night, then you are already setting yourself up for failure. When you're tired, you're more prone to make poor food decisions, drink more caffeine, be less productive, and lack energy for exercise. If evening chores are keeping you up, adjust your schedule. If you simply can't sleep before 2 am, consider eliminating coffee, sugar, or other stimulants (even TV!) so that you can develop a healthier sleep schedule.
Water is the unsung hero of a healthy lifestyle. Here in Colorado, we know the importance of hydration, but we often eschew the bland liquid for something with sugar and artificial colors. So make it easy to choose water instead: invest in a water bottle that lists ounces on the side and can hold a good amount (within reason, or it will be too heavy!). Set a timer on your phone to remind you to drink every so often to make sure you are getting your daily requirement. You can even put fruit infusers in your water if you are having trouble tolerating the taste of plain water. We have a whole house water filter that makes our water taste sweet and delicious — I have dubbed myself a water snob because I won't drink any other kind!
Choose 14 meals you really enjoy and rotate them every two weeks. This will not only save you money, but will take the guesswork out of "what's for dinner?" If you are hungry, and do not have a plan for what you will eat, you will more likely choose something unhealthy. I wake up in the morning knowing what I will eat the entire day, so I avoid those long gazes into the refrigerator. If you are going to be away from home, pack a healthy lunch—my favorite is apples and almond butter. I can eat them anywhere with minimal cleanup. Healthy food keeps you satisfied longer, so be sure to pack lots of fruits and veggies!
Make an appointment every day, 5-6 days a week, to exercise. Put it on your calendar and set that time apart. Don't schedule things that will interfere with that time. I work from home, so I wake up and put on my exercise clothes before I even shower. That way, I force myself to work out before I go anywhere that day. I always tell my clients, "the hardest part of working out is getting dressed for it." Once you are dressed to exercise, you are more likely to do it. Also, plan what form of exercise you will do each day. I use Jillian Michael's DVDs and I like to mix them up so I don't get bored. Boredom can also be a killer to motivation, so don't be afraid to try something new.
This is hands down the most difficult part of the day to stay healthy, isn't it? Oh it's not so hard to choose a salad for lunch, but then when the munchies hit, those chocolate bars and potato chips start calling your name. Always carry food with you. ALWAYS. I love Larabars, JuicePlus+ Complete bars, cashews, carrot sticks, etc. Anything that you can grab BEFORE your blood sugar dips and you become "hangry." At the first sign of hunger, I eat the snack I have on hand so I can walk past those snack aisles without drooling.
Living with intention and preparation can help to eliminate those common temptations that WILL come. Over time, as you see the positive changes to your body and your health, you will be encouraged and excited to find that planning ahead will become part of your routine. What healthy choices will you plan for today?