Pick Your Battles to Stay on Track
My post Pillars of Health covered five main areas that we have some control over and can work on to benefit our health and well-being. How to fit all of this into our daily routine? We all have family, job, friends, and that darn parent-teacher conference… So many responsibilities are already on our plate! It’s difficult to add any. I am with you. Let’s be on a mission to incorporate positive changes into our already busy lives. I know it’s possible.
Whatever changes we are making we need to ensure they are sustainable. It is easy to get very excited and overcommit, only later to realize you cannot do it and give up all together.
So let’s explore what our options are.
I think the best answer here is to pick your battles. First of all, do not try adding all new practices at once. One of the best ways is to choose an order and go slowly. For instance, give yourself one week, two weeks or a month (whatever works for you) to streamline your workout routine by adding 2-3 sessions a week. See how you feel and if you need any adjustments. Keep in mind it takes anywhere between 28 to 66 days to develop a new habit. Once your body and mind are settled into this routine, add the next one. Let’s say spiritual practice. Ideally, spiritual practice needs to be incorporated daily. It doesn’t have to be a one-hour-long commitment. Five-ten minutes a day that’s all you need. Of course, if your circumstances allow you, you can make it longer. But again, make sure the habit is sustainable meaning you will be able to follow through for months and years. Do no rush.
Breathing is a good pillar to practice and often without putting any special time aside. It can be a part of your yoga or meditation practice or it can be incorporated into your morning/evening commute. Stuck in traffic? Breath. You will arrive home or work relaxed and rested☺. Well, not really, but it does help to calm down and turn your gaze inward instead of being frustrated with that silly driver who doesn’t know what green traffic light means.
Nutrition adjustments take months and often years. It is very fluid and often depends on the season, your age, how you feel and whether you need extra fuel for the day. I usually suggest making 2-3 changes a week. For example, if you drink coffee with milk and sugar, start by reducing the sugar in half and substitute half of the milk with any plant alternative. Do you like spaghetti with meat sauce? See if you and your family are open to switching half of ground beef to green lentils and half of flour spaghetti to spiralized zucchini. (Honestly, most of my clients never even taste the difference.) Do you snack with 2 cookies? How about you eat one cookie and one apple instead. I know it doesn’t sound like a lot. But these small tweaks will compound into something amazing.
Sleep tweaks can also be done in stages. If you are used to going to bed at 2 am, start slowly moving the time by 30-minute increments. Ideally, you want to be in bed by 10 pm and sleep for 8.5 hours. 11 pm would be the latest with the sleep time of 7 hours minimum. We will look into this later but what is important to know for now is that your body goes through self-healing and restoration only between 10 pm and 2 am. If you miss this window you are skipping on all the benefits. And leave your phone in a different room. I know it is very tempting to scroll through posts, Instagram and Facebook before bed. But these activities eat up a lot of your precious beauty sleep time. Plus, you most likely will grab that phone first thing in the morning to check emails and updates. Remember, you are the most important person on this planet. So spend the first hour of your day in your own company. I am sure you will enjoy it.
Another good option is to add your new positive changes to already existing routines. For example, do light stretches in the morning while you are waiting for your coffee brew in the kitchen. Do a mindful practice while brushing your teeth at night. (Just concentrate on the sounds and sensations around you for 2 minutes). That’s already something. You know, I call filling up my car gas tank “a 30-dollar meditation practice”. Thirty dollars is the amount I usually spend. And as I am stuck while pumping I concentrate on what I see and hear around me. This counts as a mindful practice in my books☺.
A great way to keep the positive attitude towards the changes and make them last long is to find a like-minded person or better a few people. It’s always easier to do a detox or complain about a juice cleanse with a partner or a friend. And you are most likely to show up for that workout when you know another person is waiting.
Lastly, I think what helps me a lot is when I see my interest and excitement toward the changes start fading away I try to find more information to keep me on track. It can be an interesting article, book from a library, new recipe or a different type of workout.
Importantly, it is fine to let yourself slip a bit and not judge. You can set a day when you allow yourself to indulge. For example, tell yourself on Thursdays you will have a piece of a chocolate cake or a glass of wine. Allow yourself to relax and enjoy that birthday party or a banquet. I assure you overtime you won’t crave this anymore.
The main thing is to remain consistent with your positive changes. I always say: What you do once in a while doesn’t really matter. What you do every day affects you the most.
I hope this helps on your journey. Good luck!