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Find the joy in living a healthy life

Does this sound familiar?

This new diet is so simple. All it requires you to do is track every single calorie you consume (make sure you only eat 1,200 calories in a day), eliminate every single carb, drink only water (bye bye coffee and wine), work out for a least one hour a day, and be sure you are meditating for at least 30 minutes each morning.

Sounds miserable doesn’t it? I see this all too often with my clients. They decide they want to focus on their health and lose weight. Overnight, they change every single thing about the way they eat and move their bodies. They over restrict their diet and calorie consumption and go overboard in the exercise department.

They keep this up for a week or two or possibly even an entire month. They are so miserable. They stop hanging out with their friends because it is too hard to say no to the cheese and crackers and wine all of their friends are having a girl’s night. They snap at their family because they are so hungry. All they think about is food (delicious food they can no longer have) and find themselves dreaming of drinking their favorite cup of coffee. They suffer through this until finally they can’t do it any longer. They have a piece of pizza when they are out to dinner with their families and suddenly the piece of pizza turns into 3 slices of pizza, a Coke, two glasses of wine, and three brownies on a Friday night. They feel so guilty that they continue eating like that all weekend and completely give up on their health goals because they could not stand another minute of living like that.

This very detailed picture was inspired by the experiences of so many of my clients. They have learned to equate being healthy with being miserable. It does not have to be this way. I know for certain that the only way to make a behavior change last long term is to make it enjoyable.

Here is how you can build a healthy lifestyle that is enjoyable and you can sustain for the rest of your life.

  1. Start small. Pick one habit at a time to change. When I first started transforming my health, I started by swamping my morning toaster waffle for a blood sugar balancing smoothie. That one simple switch gave me so much more energy that I finally felt like working out before work. I started with a ten minute workout and gradually increased my time. 
  2. Get really clear on why it matters to you to get healthy. There is nothing wrong with wanting to look good in a swimsuit but that is not going to sustain you long term. Wanting to have the energy to keep up with your kids is a much bigger reason that will help you stick with it long term. I first started getting healthy to lose the baby weight I put on after the birth of my second child. After a couple of months of eating better and exercising, the weight started to come off but the biggest change was how I felt. I did not realize how terrible I was feeling until I started to feel good again. My biggest reason to keep with my healthy habits now is because I love how it makes me feel. Plus, I am on a mission to live as healthy as I can for as long as I can and I know that starts with my habits now.
  3. 80%/20% lifestyle is where it is at. I do not eat healthy 100% of the time. I drink wine even though I know it is not good for me. I have never met a chip I did not love. I aim to eat mostly healthy and know that part of living a healthy life is having some wiggle room for things that bring me joy. Aiming for perfection is only setting you up to fail. You will eat unhealthy foods and miss workouts sometimes. That is okay. Don’t beat yourself up about it, move on and make a better choice the next time.
  4. Find a healthy minded community. If you are around people who are going to yoga classes, eating healthy meals, and going for hikes, you are much more likely to do the same. Working out with a friend is so much more fun than working out alone. Take that first step and ask your friend to go for a hike with you. Join my Facebook community, Healthy, Happy Teachers (it is not just for teachers, it is for anyone with a busy schedule who wants to prioritize their health) to receive health and wellness motivation and support. Get a dog (I am a firm believer that every house should have a dog. I  have three!) and walk it at least once a day. 
  5. Pick healthy foods and exercises that you actually enjoy. Hate salad? You don’t have to eat it! You can find plenty of other ways to get your vegetables in. Does the thought of going for a run make you want to poke your eyes out? You don’t have to do it. Pick another form of exercise that you enjoy.
  6. Be okay with being uncomfortable. Yes,this blog post is all about making health and wellness enjoyable but I want you to be okay with feeling out of your comfort zone and embracing the feelings that come along with undergoing a change of any kind. There are going to be times where you don’t want to workout but you will do it anyway. You will want to have another glass of wine but you know it will impact your sleep so you say no. Staying in your comfort zone will feel good in the moment but nothing great ever comes from staying too comfortable. You are made to do great things so get out there and do it!


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