This might sound like a lofty title, but I'm 100% serious. I learned this mental trick from a friend when I was struggling to find the right life balance in grad school. There was a constant sense of guilt in my gut about not accomplishing everything I wanted to eat day and this one sentence changed my life.
So here it is. The one sentence that will change your life...
"It's not a priority for me right now."
That's it! Super simple. Let me explain why it's so powerful.
It gives you permission to not do everything all the time. We can set unusually high demands on our time and accepting that what you are doing in a given moment, instead of something else, is not selfish or lazy, it is living your priorities.
It holds you accountable to your own priorities. If I say to myself "Working out is not a priority for me right now." I have to have a pretty darn good reason why, because if I keep saying that, my vision of myself as a healthy and fit person will suffer.
It's a litmus test for living your life the way you say you want to. Your actions should ACTUALLY line up with your priorities. This small mental game is a great way to see if you're really making smart choices in your life.
It keeps you from too much negative self talk. We've all been there. We just can't get motivated to do that one thing we said we'd do and now we hear that voice in our head calling us lazy, selfish, a failure, not likely to ever accomplish anything. Quiet that voice with this phrase and keep the self talk more positive and constructive.
I hope you try this out sometime soon, and let me know how it goes! I'd love to read about it in the comments!
Here’s something I struggle with when engaged in conversation about veganism with non-vegans… some people seem to believe that there is some universal truth about what is and is not healthy. And, honestly, I’m sure some people have had similar experiences in the reverse.
So why do we cling to what we believe to be true about healthy habits? Because health is personal. What works for you may REALLY work for you, so it feels like it should work for everyone else. And why wouldn’t we share something that makes us feel good?
Yes, there is general consensus around the value of fruits and vegetables and the lack of value in sugar-sweetened beverages. But here’s the thing… if having an occasional soda will satisfy a craving or a need as I work to improve my diet and giving in to that one temptation keeps me from binging on a package of Oreos, it’s “healthy”.
For me, steering clear of meat and keeping my dairy and egg intake to a minimum is what makes my body feel best and helps me eat more of the really good stuff like fruits and veggies. For some people, it makes them feel weak, they eat more junk food, and ultimately it’s unhealthy.
The same goes for fitness… some people will run every day of their lives and be extremely healthy and happy individuals. Some people will run every day for a year and develop stress fractures, injuries, and put a real strain on their bodies. The Insanity workouts I love are not at all similar to what a yogi loves, but it doesn’t make either of us fitter or healthier!
So in the midst of so many people adamantly telling you what is “really” healthy, here are a few tips to know if what you’re doing is best for you…
IT MAKES YOU FEEL GOOD
Soreness aside, your fitness and nutrition plans should ultimately make you feel good. You should have energy, feel satiated between meals, notice improvement in your fitness level as you progress, and be able to sleep well.
IT IS SUSTAINABLE
If what you’re doing right now is a lot of work, cumbersome, or time-consuming and you’re not totally in love with it, it’s not going to be sustainable. You’re better off with a less strict plan that you know you’ll stick with than a very restrictive plan that you’ll give up in 2 weeks or a month.
IT IS BETTER THAN WHERE YOU STARTED
Sometimes we beat ourselves up for not being perfect. I know I do it. But the reality is, my eating and exercise routine are SO MUCH better than they were a year ago. I’m constantly finding more balance in my life and slowly incorporating more and more healthy options. So if you’re eating better than you were and working more or harder than you were, you’re on the right track, and that’s what’s important.
BONUS: DON’T LET ANYONE MAKE YOU DEFEND YOUR CHOICES
Aside from working directly with a coach who may be asking you to own up to making choices that are off the agreed upon plan (and this should be done in a tough love/supportive way, not a berating or mean way), no one should ask you to defend what works for you.
If you are living a life that is keeping you healthy and happy, that’s what counts. Don’t let anyone bully you into changing what works for you, just because it doesn’t work for them.
Remember, THERE ARE NO UNIVERSAL TRUTHS ABOUT HEALTH.
There is no doubt that following a regular fitness routine improves muscular, cardiovascular, and bone health, improves sleep quality, reduces stress, can alleviate anxiety and depression, and makes every day activities easier. And I am a firm believer in the “magic” of physical fitness.
But here’s the thing… it HELPS it doesn’t CURE. You can work out daily and still have sleep issues, various health problems, stress, anxiety, or other life difficulties.
I say this because I don’t want anyone to blame exercise or give up on it when it doesn’t solve all of their problems. I’ve had days where I woke up, ate a nutritious breakfast, worked out hard and sweat, hydrated, showered, and after all that self-care inside and out still had a bad day and a bad mood.
So here are a few things to keep in mind as you look to be your healthiest you (beyond working out, which you should do 5-6 days a week).
REST IS PART OF THE PROGRAM
If you workout like crazy, eat only the most nutritious and balanced meals, and then only get 4 hours of sleep, you are doing your body a serious disservice.
Sleep is when your body gets a chance to repair, regenerate, and restore itself after a long day. It’s when your body can do some heavy lifting in regards to processing vitamins and minerals. This is where muscles grow, stress is relieved, and fat is burned.
So don’t forget to schedule sleep like an important appointment for yourself every day. Sure some days you’ll be off the mark, but sleep (and the occasional rest day) should be part of your regular routine.
WATER, WATER, WATER
Ever notice how when you wake up you’re a little bit thirsty? No? Try drinking some water when you first get up and you’ll be surprised how quickly you chug it.
Our bodies are using water constantly and need to be rehydrated often. Struggle to get your water in? Check out these tips on how to make it part of your everyday life.
GOOD NUTRITION GOES A LONG WAY
If you don’t have the right fuel, you’re not going to get very far… in a car, a boat, a plane, or with your body. Not only is food fuel, it can be medicine.
Here are some quick tips about what to have and what to avoid… EAT: fruits, veggies, whole grains, nuts, seeds, vegetable oils… DON’T EAT: foods with ingredients you can’t pronounce (except for quinoa, eat quinoa), foods with lots of added sugars, anything you drink that has calories that you didn’t blend yourself, red or processed meats (none of these will kill you, obviously, just keep them to really small amounts).
SOME DAYS ARE JUST BAD DAYS
Remember that some days you’ll be grumpy, you’ll be tired, your body won’t cooperate, your skin will break out. It happens, even to the healthiest people.
Accept that and don’t give up on the healthy lifestyle because it doesn’t fix everything. Just think of how many more bad days you’d have if you weren’t taking super good care of your body and giving it everything it needs to flourish.
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I'm Amanda K; lover of fitness, sweets, veggies, adventure, travel, and happiness.