Getting motivated–and staying motivated–can be difficult, and when temptations abound, it seems like the world is conspiring to keep you indoors, on the couch and stuck in your unhealthy life.
Instead of viewing temptations as roadblocks, think of them as motivators–the devil on your shoulder, if you will. Their presence in your life should be just what you need to keep you from losing momentum, standing still or taking a break from your healthy journey. If you stop, they’ll get you; if you stay one step ahead, you’ll always come out on top. Temptations are like misunderstood Muses. They give you the chance to be creative while reaching your goals.
Temptation No. 1: Sleeping in or hitting the snooze alarm.
Inspiration: Taking care of your body.
Get your eight hours a night. If you’re consistently sleeping through your alarm or hitting the snooze bar more than twice, consider changing your sleep schedule. Try to head to bed earlier–even just 15 or 30 minutes can make a difference.
To help you stay healthy and manage your weight, you need adequate sleep. Sleep loss affects the levels of certain hormones, which can in turn affect your metabolic processes and adversely affect your health.
Sleep experts say most adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep each night for optimum performance, health and safety. When we don’t get adequate sleep, we accumulate a sleep debt that can be difficult to “pay back” if it becomes too big. The resulting sleep deprivation has been linked to health problems such as obesity and high blood pressure, negative mood and behavior, decreased productivity, and safety issues in the home, on the job, and on the road.
Sleep loss also can cause a lack of desire to achieve goals because you feel fatigued and “run down.” Sleep is also important in developing lean muscle tissue. When you work out, you are actually tearing your muscles – sleep and proper nutrients help rebuild the muscle so that you get stronger.
Temptation No. 2: Grabbing takeout or stopping at a drive-thru.
Inspiration: Making smart choices.
Ideally, you should drive by the drive-thru and cook healthful meals at home every night. However, not all takeout is created equal, and you can find some healthful options at chain restaurants and even your neighborhood deli. See this temptation as a challenge to be creative and bring home a healthful meal when you’re in a hurry.
Plan ahead if you can, build a meal around vegetables and choose small portions to keep your takeout from taking away your self-control. (Find hundreds of tips and strategies to help you make smart, healthy choices when you’re away from home here.)
Follow the same rules at a restaurant that you would at home: Choose whole grains when possible, fill half your plate with vegetables and fruit, and opt for lean cuts of meat and low-calorie preparations.
Baked potatoes, side salads, fruit cups and milk are ubiquitous at fast food restaurants these days. See this as an opportunity to stare French fries in the face–and win!
Temptation No. 3: Grazing on junk food all night long.
Inspiration: Getting to the root of a problem.
Before you start chastising yourself for blowing your calorie budget after a good day of healthy, mindful eating, think about why you are snacking. Mindless munching is usually anything but.
Are you thirsty? Many hunger pangs are actually just thirst in disguise. Drink a glass of water and wait 20 minutes. If your hunger subsides, you weren’t really hungry after all.
What did you eat for dinner? If you tried to save calories or reduce your carb intake by having a green salad or just a plate of veggies, it’s no wonder you’re hungry. Your body needs a bit of variety to stay happy. Protein takes longer to digest and helps keep you fuller longer. Toss some grilled chicken chunks, a small can of tuna or a half-cup of beans on your salad tomorrow night to give it some staying power. In the meantime, reach for a small servings of whole-grain crackers with a tablespoon of nut butter. The combo of fat, protein and carbs will tide you over until morning.
Are you stressed or upset about something? Instead of reaching for the chocolate bar or the chips, close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. Eating your feelings leaves you feeling worse than when you started. Go for a walk, get out of the kitchen, remove trigger foods from the house–whatever it takes.
To get a handle on emotional eating, you first need to understand it. Learn more about this common food problem, which is the cause of 75% of overeating, according to experts. Once you know your food weaknesses, you’ll be prepared to confront those evening cravings instead of surrendering to them.
Temptation No. 4: Vegging out on the couch.
Inspiration: Taking time for you.
You get home from work and gaze longingly at the sofa. You had a long day, and a bit of rest sounds much better than socializing or spending time with others. You just want to be alone with your feet up, mind empty and the TV on.
Devote a chunk of time each week or each day to yourself. Maybe it’s 15 minutes, or maybe it’s two hours. Put yourself first as often as you need to.
Instead of punishing yourself for being lazy, use this “me” time in a productive way. Do a crossword puzzle, read a book, watch a movie, call a friend, pick up knitting, or cuddle with your child or partner.
Anticipate this respite from the hustle and bustle of your life and plan for it. Watch your favorite TV show, paint your nails, ask your partner to give you a foot rub. Reward yourself for being motivated, sticking with your healthy lifestyle plan and working out regularly. A bit of time spent doing nothing can help carry you through the rest of your hectic and action-packed life. (Read our Rest & Relaxation articles for more tips.)
Temptation No. 5: Skipping your workout.
Inspiration: Changing up your workout.
You know how great you feel when you finish a workout: refreshed, revived and rejuvenated. You feel strong, confident and happy. So why would you want to skip exercise? Quite often, the reason is boredom.
Does your workout schedule run on repeat? Do you do the same thing at the same time and in the same place every day?
Now that you’ve made fitness a part of your life, try shaking up your routine from time to time. Instead of walking laps around the park in your neighborhood, try taking a new route. If you belong to a gym, trade the Stairmaster for the elliptical or the treadmill for the stationary bike.
Tired of your DVDs? Trade with a friend or head to the library. Take a new class: Zumba, cardio dance, Pilates, yoga or Spinning are fun ones to try. Ask a trainer at your gym or a fit friend for suggestions. Speaking of which, one of the best ways to shake up your workout is to enlist a friend to blast calories with you. You can catch up on each other’s lives while you firm up.
When temptations step in your path, don’t cower. Confront them and enlist them as your allies. Soon you’ll be stronger and more determined and will have traveled a little farther in your healthy living journey.
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