All of us encounter obstacles and set backs when it comes to incorporating new healthy habits or even just maintaining the ones we already have. This past week of Irma preparation is sort of an extreme example of how encountering an obstacle can impact efforts at a healthy lifestyle. I don’t know about you, but healthy eating wasn’t first and foremost on my mind during the days leading up to Irma’s arrival, especially when I would go to the store and everything was completely picked over. It definitely threw a wrench in my everyday habits. Thankfully, here in Tallahassee, we were spared the worst of it. Now that this crazy past week is behind us and Irma is gone, here are a few tips to help you get back on track.
- Use all that water you bought to make a new habit of hydrating yourself. Many of us walk around dehydrated all the time, which can be mistaken for feelings of hunger, leading us to eat when our body doesn’t need food, and contributing to weight gain. Now that you have all those bottles of water make a goal to drink a specific number of bottles per day. A good daily goal is 32-56 ounces (2-4 16 ounce bottles) per day for moderately active women and 48-88 ounces (3-6 16 ounce bottles) per day for moderately active men. Set them aside, put them on your desk, or in your car. Don’t like plain water? Add a few drops of juice concentrate, like tart cherry or pomegranate, or squeeze in some fresh lemon, lime, or orange juice to add flavor.
- Get rid of junk foods that trigger you to overeat. In preparing for the storm and possible power outages most people weren’t running to the store to stock up on fresh foods. Instead, we stocked up on shelf stable stuff. Things like bread (not necessarily whole wheat, but instead whatever you could find on the shelf), crackers, chips, peanut butter, etc. are plentiful in most of our pantries. Take an inventory of what you have and get rid of the foods that you know will sabotage your efforts at eating well. I know that can be hard when you’ve spent hard earned money on those things, but is it worth it ultimately. You don’t have to throw it away, you can give it to a food bank. If you know certain foods will create opportunities to overeat, just get them out of the house.
- Make a goal to do one thing today to get you back on track. Maybe it’s making a meal plan for the next few days, refreshing your fridge with fresh fruits and vegetables, taking a walk and enjoying this slightly cooler weather. So many of us approach eating well and exercise with an all-or-nothing approach. We are either doing it 100% or 0%. It doesn’t have to be all-or-nothing, every little bit helps. Finding a middle ground is actually a much better, more sustainable approach. If you’ve been out of sorts, like I and so many Floridians, have for the last week, just decide on one small thing to help you move towards getting back on track.
- Be grateful and appreciative we were spared what could have been much worse. Seeing the destruction that Irma caused in other areas can serve as a reminder to take a moment of gratitude for the simple choices and everyday decisions that can seem mundane under normal circumstances. It can be easy to take for granted the everyday blessings that allow us to eat well if we choose to and move our bodies in whatever way we decide.
Obstacles and set backs are a given. Unfortunately many people who start on a track of eating better or being more physically active have a tendency to throw all their efforts out the window when they come up against an obstacle. It’s usually not as extreme an event as the possibility of a Category 4 or 5 hurricane barreling toward us. It may be a weekend of traveling, a vacation, or just a busy week or two at work. The simple fact is that life can get in the way for everyone, no matter how healthy their habits. The key to conquering set backs is to expect they will happen and to get back on track as quickly as possible after.