When “Life” Gets In The Way of Eating Right

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After the recent “Vegetable” challenge that I ran here on YourHealthAtTheCrossroads.com, I asked the participants for feedback based on their experiences during the challenge.

One of the questions I asked was as follows:

What (if anything) caused you to slip up?

One of the participants had the following response:

“My slip up this week and with previous healthy eating attempts is not factoring in life- life happens. When I stress, healthy eating is usually the last thing on my mind. (emphasis mine)”

I pulled this response out because I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that what she said is relevant to most of us, including myself.  Life just happens sometimes, meaning that stuff just comes up.

Examples of Life Happening

Here are some examples from my personal life of life happening and consequentially impeding my ability to take care of myself:

  • I have to attend a meeting at work
  • My daughter is sick
  • I overslept
  • I’m sick or injured
  • Somebody needs my help on short notice
  • The weather is bad

These are the kinds of things that have come up suddenly and that have require dmy immediate attention.  The question is, how in the world does one manage to maintain health when life happens like this?

Make a Plan, Follow the Plan, and Give Yourself a Break

The best that any of us can do is to do our best, so that’s what I encourage you to remember here.  Sometimes it doesn’t matter how dedicated you are.  Life happens and has a way of derailing us.  The best way to mitigate the effects in my opinion is to make yourself a plan, make sure you follow your plan, and last but not least, be sure to give yourself a break.

  • Make a Plan – If you find life happening so much that you’re unable to ever work out or eat right, check yourself.  It’s probably that you have no plan.  As the saying goes, “failing to plan is planning to fail,” and if your efforts to live healthily are just based on how you feel and not on a concrete plan to do so, you’ll never succeed.  Create a minimum plan that is easy enough for you to do and that gives you a framework for being intentional about healthy living.  Starting off by designating definite exercise days or by declaring that you will drink a certain amount of water every day is a good place to begin.
  • Follow the Plan – This might seem self-explanatory, but if you are like I am, you need to hear it.  When I was in college, I was the king of workout plans.  I would make a new workout plan every two weeks, and I often found myself disappointed with my progress?  Why?  Because I wasn’t using any of my plans consistently, and I wasn’t giving them a chance to work!  Only after I made a plan and made myself do the plan did I experience really good results.  The moral of the story is, it isn’t enough to have a plan.  Make yourself do the plan.  And when life happens and throws you off, simply pick up where you left off and keep on going!
  • Give Yourself a Break – We as individuals are truly our biggest critics.  Our multitasking culture encourages us to believe that it’s virtuous to juggle hundreds of tasks at a time, including working for a living, taking care of family, working out, preparing healthy meals, and various other extracurricular activities.  If we slip up, we often condemn ourselves, and that’s not fair!  Stuff happens, and you gotta allow for that.  Give yourself some grace.  Don’t hold yourself to a superhuman schedule.  Also, if you have too much on your plate, do a purge!  Re-evaluate everything you do, and choose only to do what is absolutely important.

If you hold to the things I’ve mentioned, I contend that it won’t matter if you occasionally miss an exercise session or you are unable to prep your own food.  The reason why is because you will be doing well most of the time (think 80/20 rule), and as long as that is true, you are doing well.  I want to hear from you now.  When life happens, what do you do to keep yourself on the path to health?

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