What To Do When Life Gets In The WayApril 27, 2020
Life happens! And sometimes, we are faced with roadblocks that make it hard to stick to plans and adhere to the healthy habits we have committed to. We get busy with work, caregiving for family, doing daily chores, and get caught up in last-minute schedule changes.
There are days when life throws us a curveball. We are faced with unexpected challenges that affect our emotions, our stress, anxiety, and our ability to cope with everyday life. Whether it be the loss of a loved one, the loss of a job and income, the loss of a friend, or a divorce, unexpected challenges tend to take away our focus on maintaining healthier habits and practicing self-care, which can halt the momentum of reaching our goals.
So what do we do when life gets in the way?
When Life Gets In The Way: Protect Your Self-Care!
Protect the time you need to dedicate to your self-care. It’s ok to say no and not take on extra responsibilities so that you can take time for YOU! -Dr. Kushner
Dr. Robert Kushner, author of Six Factors to Fit: Weight Loss that Works for You, shares that when life challenges come to light, it is important not to let life and other emotions get in your way of self-care.
Within your journey to living a healthier lifestyle, taking a little bit of a detour at times will be necessary. The important thing is how you responded to the changes and challenges of your everyday life.
When life gets in the way and your plans for self-care time falls through, don’t give up! As an example, if you have scheduled time to go to the gym, unexpected life circumstances may keep you at home. Find a way to still be active as there are many exercises that you can do from home.
Dr. Kushner suggests using exercise stretch bands, or dance/walk to a workout or music video streamed from the Internet. Walk around your yard or neighborhood and track your steps. Using tracking Apps, such as Map My Fitness, FitBit, and Fitness22 helps you to be accountable, which Dr. Kushner says is essential to your weight loss success.
What about your nutritional self-care? If you took the short Six Factor Quiz, you have an important advantage to know what type of eater you are so you're prepared when your life gets in the way.
What happens after you have planned your healthy meals and snacks for the week, and your plans suddenly change? An unexpected life event, an invitation to dinner, or a celebration can detour your meal plans. Suddenly you are faced with countless food choices, and it can be easy to sabotage your healthy eating habits.
You can easily maintain your nutritional self-care by making healthy food choices and practicing portion control wherever you are. When eating at restaurants, you can ask the server to immediately put half of your dinner in a to-go box so that you are in control of the portions and calories on your plate.
If you’re hosting a party, send your guests home with leftovers that you know will be too tempting to keep around. Keeping food logs and being calorie aware will help you be accountable. Be ready for common environmental influences that can get in the way of your healthy lifestyle journey!
No matter what your life circumstances are, it’s ok to take time for self-care.
Dr. Kushner tells us that it is most certainly ok to say NO to taking on other responsibilities that will interfere with the time you need to rejuvenate and take care of your body and soul.
Taking Time to De-Stress
“Take control of your stress levels, whether at work or at home. Surround yourself with people that help to boost your energy and mood and distance yourself from those that tend to add to your stress with negativity.” -Dr. Kushner
When life just isn’t going your way, and your emotions are going haywire, it is too easy to fall back into unhealthy behaviors. When you feel stressed and overwhelmed, try to recognize the signals and take time to remove the tension and anxiety.
Dr. Kushner recommends that you take a 20-minute time-out to de-stress by going for a walk, listening to music, practicing meditation, or doing deep breathing exercises. Taking the time to quiet your mind by reading a book, working on an activity that calms your mind, or talking to family and friends can also help you to destress.
Managing your stress can be very challenging but even when life gets in the way, you can help to harness or limit your stress by incorporating healthy daily habits that will help to boost your mood and energy including:
- Increasing your movement, even in just short intervals
- Eating regular, healthy meals without skipping or overeating
- Staying hydrated
- Getting restful sleep
- Relaxing by spending a few minutes of breathing exercises/meditation
- Dedicating time to do activities that you enjoy
- Taking restorative breaks (as recommended by Daniel H. Pink, When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing) such as:
- Mini breaks: Look away from the computer screen, TV, and stretch, rest your eyes
- Moving breaks: Walk around your home or office five minutes each hour
- Outdoor breaks: Get outside for some fresh air, enjoy nature
- Interaction breaks: Connect with others and socialize
No matter where you are on your weight loss and maintenance journey, you can practice self-care and stress-management by finding the fun in healthy living!
Doing activities that you find to be effortless is important to maintaining healthy habits and long-term successful weight loss.
How do you put the fun in your weight maintenance program? Make walking fun by walking with a friend, spouse, or your dog. Try new activities with friends such as Zumba and biking. Participate in group activities/sports, volunteer, or help to fundraise for your favorite charity. Socialize more, reach out for support, learn new skills, and find your fun...even when life gets in the way!
Catch up on what Dr. Kushner says in his other two articles:
ABOUT THE AUTHORDr. Robert F. Kushner MD, is board-certified in internal medicine, nutrition and obesity. He is a passionate clinician, educator, researcher and advocate in helping to improve the lives of those affected by obesity. His new book, Six Factors to Fit: Weight Loss that Works for You! was just published by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
Read more articles by Dr. Kushner!