I’ve been asked a few times lately about what “all this” really takes. My first response is always, what’s “all this”? If you mean taking care of yourself, I’m not going to lie, this involves a little work. But trust me, it’s worth it. Healthy living is a little like college in that you can’t just show up and expect to get the best of the best, you have to put some work into it, and there is a direct correlation between the amount of work you put in and the reward you get back out. The big difference is that you will actually USE what you learn with healthy living unlike the vast majority of us with degrees completely unrelated to our careers. Not that I’m not using my Master’s degree or anything…but that’s another subject.
This takes a little planning. Because I don’t rely on processed foods, I do more cooking now then I have ever done. And seriously, that’s still not much. There is grocery shopping involved and a little recipe reading to make sure I have everything I need on hand. It’s easier to make healthy choices when the healthy choices are available in house. There’s a little prep work. I shared the power bar recipe I’ve been using, and I’ll make a batch of those up every so often to keep on hand. I also hard boil eggs to keep in the fridge for a quick snack or meal. On the weekend I may make a batch of whole wheat muffins with fruit to snack on during the week. I tend to freeze most of these since I can’t eat them quick enough.
There’s a little planning each day too. I’ve always taken my lunch to work so that wasn’t a big change for me. But if you’re accustomed to running out for fast food, you’re going to need to plan. I also plan for snacks. I like to eat. And I like to not be tempted by the candy in the vending machine because when the 3pm I’m-starving-right-now-damn-I-could-eat-my-coat feeling hits every once in a while, I’m tempted. I have to get all this done at night because if I leave it until morning, I just throw whatever in a bag and it never works out.
This also takes a little sacrifice. “I don’t have time to exercise!” Sure you do. I bet everyone could find 15 minutes a day for exercise at home. If you were brutally honest with yourself, where do you waste time? I waste time on the internet. I look at websites, play on facebook, read message boards, watch stupid youtube videos, watch Netflix, and just generally waste time. Who knows what I could accomplish if I stopped wasting time online. Where do I not waste time? TV. I don’t have cable. I own a TV really only because I got left one (crappy) one in my divorce. It hasn’t been turned on in 10 months or more. I don’t say this to sound self righteous, I say this to point out how I made time to exercise. I realized a long time ago that what I was spending my evenings doing was watching TV (which inevitably meant eating snacks) wishing I was healthier. Then the light bulb went off that if I would sacrifice a little of the TV time, I could exercise and maybe actually be healthier. I’ve been told that if I had kids I would understand how hard it is to find time to exercise (hello? self righteous much?) but my response to that is why can’t your children be a part of your exercise? I spoke with a friend today, someone I’ve known for a long time but haven’t seen in years (isn’t facebook great?). She told me that part of her motivation to exercise and be healthy was to set a good example for her son that fitness is important. How awesome is that? Even though her son is a preschooler, she is already wanting him to know how important it is to take care of himself. (I hope you don’t mind I’m talking about you if you’re reading this!)
There may be a little financial sacrifice too. I choose to pay for a gym membership, but my lack of cable service more than covers that. Certainly you can exercise at home without a gym or even fancy equipment. Youtube is an amazing resource for learning new exercises, as are blogs! Special mention to Peak 313 Fitness as my current favorite fitness website/blog. She’s a mom who works out at home with minimal equipment. You may find that your food costs change some as well, I am working on trying to really use my dollars consciously with companies I think deserve them, so I am finding my grocery costs are going up a touch. But you know what, any fruits and veggies are better than no fruits and veggies. Don’t sweat it if you can’t buy organic. Just eat your veggies folks. And whole grains. The way I see it, I may be spending a little more now, but I am cutting my future healthcare costs by staying out of the cardiologist and oncologists offices, and hopefully even my GP’s office.
So, I’m not going to lie. Taking care of your body is not an instant success. You have to put some work into it. It’s not an overnight thing, and if you start out thinking that way you are setting yourself up for disappointment. There is no gimmick. This is a lifestyle, one that is meant to be sustainable, long term. You CAN do this. The work is worth it.