Staying healthy is tough, I know. For the past few weeks I’ve been working 8-12 hour days on my feet, using my body, in the sun. It’s been great, but every day I come home completely exhausted with little time or energy to prepare proper meals.
For someone who prides herself on her limited packaging meal prep game, I’ve felt out of sorts relying more on prepped foods and quick meals full of carbs and caffeine. Though I’m still on the side of healthy, I miss my daily green juice, Essentrics practice, and 8-10 hours of sleep. But this is what happens when life literally gets in the way.
For a long while, I’d had the luxury of working from home and making my own schedule, including lots of time in the kitchen. However, once my current gig as an urban farmer took hold, I had to pull back the reins and allow for some exceptions to my own rules. This is where guilt set in, but only a little. I know this time of year is crazy for my line of work, so I’m okay reflecting my body’s needs in a changing diet, but it’s taken practice to have patience and acceptance in the moment.
As I’ve been working longer and longer days, I’ve started thinking about what life is like for other people who work long hours either seasonally or all year round with little time to take care of themselves. I can now relate better to those pushing through their lives to stay afloat and trying to “do it all”. Making healthy choices is hard when you’re stressed out and exhausted. So is making time to cook, exercise, and take care of yourself. In light of this personal discovery, I thought it might be helpful to those of you out there walking in the same shoes to have a few simple tools in your back pocket to achieve even the smallest of health goals:
One of the reasons you may not want to start making change in your life, whether in your diet, lifestyle, or habits, can be that you’re overwhelmed with the how behind doing so. You see others living effortlessly and seamlessly from day to day, whether meal prepping weekly or living a plastic free life. Let me tell you that these people, first of all, aren’t living effortlessly, and they didn’t adopt habits overnight. They started by trying one new thing at a time and working at it until it felt right, then moving on to something else.
All you have to do is start. Ask a question, try a new product, make one meal. That’s all. Once you do it, it’ll feel easier and more achievable, so maybe you’ll try it again. Before you know it you’ll be a master at that one thing, giving your brain and body more space and energy to try something else. From experience, I know finding energy to even get started is the hard part, but sometimes you find you have a few hours to yourself and all the ingredients for that DIY homemade hand cream you bought weeks ago just sitting around, so maybe you try it out.
Just start. You’ll feel so darn proud of yourself you may cry.
TRY ONE THING AT A TIME
Similar to the above note, the best way to fail at something new is to try to be an expert right off the hop. Too much of a new thing can cause stress and frustration, causing you to avoid trying anything new ever again. If you’re unsure of where to begin, but have a general idea of the change you wish to effect, ask those around you who have made similar changes about how they went about it and where they started. People are more than happy to talk about their successes and love to help others get there, too. Listen mindfully and latch on to the things you know are achievable for you.
Once this one thing becomes part of your routine, try something else, and repeat the process. One day someone will ask you for similar advice.
So, where do you start? Of all the advice you receive about the possible changes you could make, pick the one that not only makes sense for you, but is also simplest of them all. Make sure you can easily find the time, ingredients, recipe, accoutrements, and so on to make the process easy for you so you’re not spending a whack load of money or energy that doesn’t need to be used and may only deter you from trying it again.
A good starting point is to begin by working with a basic recipe or task, something that acts as a routine habit or creation that you can use over and over again to get the practice you need and can be built upon to create other things or help you better achieve your goals over time. As they say, practice makes perfect, whatever your version of perfection may be.
MAKE A SCHEDULE
Time is of the essence. Yep. This is a toughie. You’ve all tried that easy recipe that takes “30 minutes or less” to create, which actually took 2 hours because it was your first time. But that’s just it, IT WAS YOUR FIRST TIME! First times are always tough, so remember to make time for questions, learning, error, and patience on your first go. If you go into the experience with a realistic mindset, expecting less of yourself on your first go and just having fun with it, then you just may surprise yourself with the result.
Carve out time and make it an event in your calendar. Get excited about it! Try it with a friend, so you can help each other out and…
What’s helped me the most in sticking to my goals in health and in life has been to have someone by my side keeping me accountable. As soon as you have another person watching you, you feel responsible. Just make sure that the person you select has the same motivation to reach their goals as you do. Try to avoid a mutually relaxed relationship around shifting your habits. It wouldn’t really work to have an accountability buddy who excuses you from hitting your goals.
This is tough love, but critical to helping you achieve what you set out to do. It might help to work with someone who you don’t have an emotional attachment to, like a work buddy or an acquaintance, instead of a best friend of partner. Go one step further and document your growth on social media. Once people in your life see you’re up to something good, they’ll not only keep you accountable, but they’ll cheer you on along the way!
Like, I don’t even know what that is…
I have a secret: Every time I screw up a recipe I get super upset and angry and bang things around until my anger subsides. They’ve not been my finest moments, but with practice they’ve been repeated less over time. There is a lesson here, though, because you will fail. At the very least, you’ll not achieve the expectations set out by the world around you, which are mostly unrealistic anyway. Find a way to embrace failure. Post a recipe fail online, laugh about it with a friend who also tried it and failed, create something new from shifting your goal in a new direction.
Make it work for you and know that life isn’t perfect, even when you get it right. And remember, your success will look different than those around you, even if you’re trying to achieve the same thing. Take it in stride and love the process.
I know the process. You’ll get all fed up with the fact that you’re living in a way that doesn’t satisfy you anymore, but that you don’t have the time or motivation to change, so you keep on pushing your goals aside, saving them for a rainy day that never seems to come. Here are my final tips:
Try to have fun with the process.
Remember why you wanted to change in the first place.
Make sure your goals are yours and not fuelled by others or things you think you should do.
Best of luck, my friend. You got this!