I’m getting married on Sunday, yay! I’ll be away for the next few weeks (will be back end of Sept.) but wanted to leave you with a post that’s relevant to my current situation and applicable to us all during many other times in life. Are you prepared for game changers?
Imagine you’ve started eating healthier (soup and salads a few days per week at lunch, cooking healthy dinners at home, preparing snacks on Sunday evening) and exercising more (getting to the gym 3-4 days per week). You’ve hit a good groove and you’re starting to see results. Then, BAM. You get a new job or you move in with your boyfriend or girlfriend. Your entire routine and schedule are blown to bits. You can’t find the time to workout anymore and Sunday evenings are no longer a good time for prepping healthy snacks. And without those healthy snacks, you find yourself getting ravenous during the day and opting for the cheeseburger and fries at lunch instead of the soup and salad. Your results are slowing down and possibly stopping. Yikes! What to do?
First, an important point to remember: All results are based on habits. Habits are the actions we perform consistently, day-in and day-out. If you go on vacation for three weeks and gain a few pounds, it shouldn’t matter because when you get back (if you return to your usual habits) those pounds will go away. Just as long as none of those less healthy habits from the vacation stick.
On the other hand game changers, whether good or bad, are times in life when there is a permanent, radical shift in our schedule or demands that can, in turn, have a significant impact on our physical activity or eating habits. Some game changers are planned, while others are not. The better we can prepare and plan for a game changer, the easier the transition will be, but sometimes it becomes a series of educated trial-and-error (that’s fine, it’s how we learn and improve). Here’s an example for getting married:
Weddings – Wedding planning can often become a full-time job on its own, so time that you once had for preparing meals or exercising might be replaced with meeting florists and photographers. However, getting married can be a strong motivator for people to look their best, so investing in a “Bride/Groom-to-be” exercise or nutrition program can be worth it. Or you can review your schedule and reserve time for a few “mini” 30 minute workouts since something is always better than nothing. Or make the choice to buy more healthy, prepared meals that you can keep in the fridge/freezer and reheat as needed when you’ve had a busy day (Fresh Direct does this very well in the NYC area, but you can find lots of decent options across the country like Amy’s Kitchen or The Organic Bistro frozen foods). A little extra effort or money spent now may mean a lot more happiness on your wedding day. And if getting married means moving in with your spouse, you may also have to deal with a change in living arrangements (snoring at night or shared fridge?) and schedules (different commute times?).
Some other common game changers include: moving, changing jobs or having a kid. Here are a few ideas and strategies you can use in any of these situations to maximize your ability to stick to your healthy eating and physical activity habits:
- Plan ahead – Write down your current schedule and how you go about maintaining your current habits and results (all of those good eating habits and physical activities). Next, create a new “proposed” schedule that will likely reflect the changes you are anticipating to your lifestyle. Then determine how you can best “shift” your current habits to your new schedule. Sunday evening gone for preparing healthy snacks? Can you purchase the healthy snacks daily at a grocery store near your new job? Or maybe you can prepare them another day and time? Or with your significant other whom you just moved in with?
- Get guidance and support – Speak to someone who successfully navigated a similar change to the one you’re facing. Ask some friends or family members to be a cooking or workout buddy during the time you’re transitioning. If you really want to make sure you don’t fall off the wagon, consider hiring a qualified dietitian (nutrition) or trainer (fitness) to guide you through the process until you feel comfortable handling the new routine on your own.
- Look for positive replacements/substitutions – As Monty Python says, “Always look on the bright side of life.” While some of your existing habits may be difficult to maintain, see if you can replace them with equal or better ones. Starting a new job with long hours? Speak to your employer and see if you can go during lunch. Or if you moved to a new area, is there a closer gym or park that makes exercising more convenient? If you’re moving in with a significant other or a new set of roommates, see if you can all take turns cooking healthy meals or preparing snacks. Or make an agreement to not keep certain tempting foods in the house/apartment. For me, moving in with my fiancee (soon to be wife) led to me having more green smoothies and salads.
What game changers have you dealt with and how were you able to handle them? (Or what problems are you facing?). Let me know.