It’s so easy to get caught up in the thought process that’s centered around what we have to avoid. Somehow, we mistake depriving ourselves of pleasure as a form of self-discipline. But I truly believe a healthy lifestyle is every bit as much (if not more so) dependent on what we DO as it is on what we DON’T do.
Find good habits to add to your life like consistent exercise, nutrient-rich foods and a sufficient sleep schedule, as opposed to eliminating the negative stuff deemed “unhealthy.” If you devote your attention solely to removing things that make you happy, what will you be left with? Lists of off-limit foods? Guilt from the times you inevitably mess up?
If you focus on the positive, there’s an excellent chance you’ll be left with a lifestyle change. So out with the bad and in with the good! Here are a few easy-to-form habits that will make you and your family happier and healthier:
• Set a REALISTIC exercise goal. Maybe you don’t have time to exercise at all. You’re not alone (read here for some small changes to make in lieu of a formal exercise schedule). But, if you do have the time, but just aren’t making it, start small. Aim for three 30-minute sessions per week. And if you need even more help, sign yourself up for a class instead of just going to the gym. Pay for it beforehand. You’ll be motivated by not wanting to waste money, and once you get to class, the group dynamic will push you to work out harder.
• Lose the extreme diets. Atkins, South Beach, the cabbage soup diet—you’ve heard of them and maybe tried them. Now, forget them. We all know everything in moderation and portion control are the keys to dieting success. Plenty of fruits and veggies also play a big role. And keep in mind, any “diet” you try is an example to your children on how to eat. If you wolf down a steak every night and eschew every fruit that comes your way, you are telling your child that’s an acceptable way to eat. Set an example of eating well balanced, nutritious meals with the occasional “cheat day” and your kids will learn your habits and become healthy adults.
So, what will you focus on this week? Maybe try to eat two home-cooked, preservative-free meals, or will resolve to exercise 30 minutes more this week than you did last week. Think about what you want to add to your life, and I think you’ll be surprised at how easily the things you’ve been trying to remove will disappear.