Habits of Healthy People: Stick with It, Especially When Life Gets Stressful

By , SparkPeople Blogger
This last month has been perhaps one of the busiest and most fun of my life. Since late August, I've traveled to Detroit to help my grandparents move, spent a long weekend in Chicago, signed a lease for a new apartment with my boyfriend, packed up and cleaned our old place, moved and unpacked. We moved the same day as the Spark Your Life Convention, which meant I missed most of the heavy lifting. The next day, I ran my first 5K with several SparkPeople, then I ran another one last weekend. Now I'm in Vancouver on a quick business trip.

Despite all that activity--and most of it was fun and exciting--I stuck with my healthy habits. I tend to get stressed out rather easily, but I survived with only one minor meltdown. I very easily could have relied on takeout, pulled all-nighters and skipped workouts to free up more time for everything else I had to do, but I knew that in the long run, it wouldn't be a good choice. Looking back, I realized that a few simple steps saved me from letting stress get the best of me. Here's how I stuck with it when the going got tough.

Schedule your workouts, but be flexible. I only missed three days of exercise in September. Whew. (I have already taken two rest days in October!)

When life really started to get hectic in mid-September, I planned my schedule for the rest of the month. Exercise is more than just a way to maintain my weight and keep my clothes from getting too tight. Two of my primary motivators for working out are stress relief and keeping my mood on an even keel. When I miss more than a day of working out, I get cranky. So when times were tough last month, I shook up my routine a bit. I didn't have time for my thrice-weekly 75-minute yoga classes, but I had time for a 20-minute yoga session at home a few nights a week. I wasn't able to make it to Spinning class on Tuesdays and Thursdays as I usually do, but I could get up 30 minutes early and run three miles before work.

One shopping trip for healthy fast foods can prevent disaster later. I loaded up on apples, hummus, salsa, almond butter, frozen broccoli, eggs and whole-grain bread so that I could eat meals even when I was short on time. I might not have cooked a fancy dinner most nights last month, but heating up a bag of frozen broccoli, cooking up a couple of eggs and toasting some multigrain bread meant I had something substantial and healthy to fill my belly on nights when I didn't get home until late. Hummus sandwiches, apples with almond butter and hard-boiled eggs kept me fueled throughout the day.

Getting a good night's sleep is more important than clearing out your to-do list. Though my to-do list should have kept me up until the wee hours most nights, I climbed into bed by midnight so I'd be ready for my 7 a.m. alarm. When you short yourself on sleep, your motivation often suffers. Losing sleep can adversely affect your weight-loss or maintenance efforts, and it can trigger cravings and overeating. Your concentration and focus are impaired when you lose sleep, so chances are your work will be better after a full seven or eight hours.

When life gets tough, remember:

"Don't let your mind bully your body into believing it must carry the burden of its worries."
--Astrid Alauda

These tips aren't really new or ground-breaking, but they're tried and true. I hope that the next time life gets busy, these simple steps can help you slow down and not veer off the course of your healthy journey.

How do you stay focused when life gets tough? Are you more likely to sacrifice sleep, healthy eating, or exercise? What's your best stress-relieving tip?