So January's over. You want to make sure you stay on track, but still allow a little wiggle room to #treatyoself here and there. How does one find the right balance? Here's what's worked well for me as I've been on my personal health journey over the years.
Find your favorite healthy foods, and stick with them. Oftentimes we get excited to "give up" on a new way of eating because we're not truly excited about any of the foods we are eating. Find the fruits and veggies you are excited about (i.e. if you know you love sweet potatoes), and keep them in rotation so you know you always have something to look forward to.
Keep it exciting. It's easy to fall out of pattern when we're bored. Rather than cooking the same things over and over again, keep it exciting! Pick a new vegetable or fruit to try each week (maybe something unique like starfruit or kohlrabi). If you find you're using the same foods in the same dishes often, get on Pinterest and find a new way to prepare them.
Take out the things that don't make you feel good. Not all plants are healthy for everyone. Some fruits and veggies contain natural chemical compounds that can provoke inflammation or immune responses. Know you don't feel so hot the day after you eat tomatoes? Consider removing them from your diet altogether, and enjoy the many other veggies this world has to offer. Your body will thank you, and with less inflammation, it'll help you keep feeling your personal best.
Be prepared. The more chaos that comes your way, the harder it'll be to keep up with your healthy routine. Be prepared for life's craziness by creating a menu for the week so you know exactly what to expect. Grocery shop for the items you need based on your menu, then prep what you can ahead of time so you always have something to reach for when you get hungry.
Show and tell. Going through a big lifestyle change on your own can be daunting. Got a good buddy you can count on? Invite them to join you on your health journey! Having someone to share your emotions, swap recipes, and cook with can help increase your chance of success - because it's nice to have someone close by who's going through the same thing and can truly understand you.
Get some REAL shut eye. Did you know that sleep can strongly affect the way you eat the following day? Lack of sleep is linked to overeating, increased sugar cravings, and altered hormones and metabolism, among other not-so-awesome things. For a great night's sleep, ditch the electronics at least 1 hour before bed, keep it cool in the bedroom, and block out any light and noise. If you can, it's even better to wake up naturally rather than wake up to an alarm. Going to bed consistently at the same time each night can help train your body to do this naturally over time.
Find your favorite way to sweat.Stable blood sugar, less sugar cravings, and lower anxiety and depression are just some of the many benefits of movement.If you hate working out, it might mean you just haven't found your favorite activity yet. If you've never tried group fitness, bop around some different studios and find one that you like. No two studios provide the same experience - so if you think you hate spinning, try a different cycling studio before you call it quits! Find a friend to sweat with you, track your progress to celebrate it, and switch it up to work different muscle groups and find your strongest self.
Find balance. Repeat after me: "It's okay to skip a workout. It's okay to have a donut after dinner because I really wanted one. It's okay if I didn't hit your step goal today - life happens." Having strict rules around food and exercise won't get you anywhere - it'll just make you feel guilty when you don't achieve what you define as "perfection." Ditch the "yes" & "no" food lists, give into your cravings every so often (unless #3 is true for you), and rest when your body is asking for it. Balance is key!