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Two levels of healthy habits & anatomy of backsliding

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

As I wrote earlier, this week is far from perfect. Every 5th or 6th week is like this, and it never gets very bad. It makes me think about my healthy habits.
These my core healthy habits I never quit, they are like breathing in the air:
-half plate rule: whatever I eat, half of the food is fruits or vegetables (except binges of course)
-have breakfast
-pack my lunch and snacks
-drink 8 cups or water or more
-run 4 times a week (2 short and 2 long runs) and any other cardio on the rest days

I have healthy habits on a lower level too: I do them most of the time routinely, but not always:
-do my strength training right after cardio, before breakfast
-divide my food in 3 meals and 2 snacks
-go to bed 8 hours before I have to get up
-maintain a balance between work and personal life & rest (don’t work more that 8 hours a day unless there is an emergency)

These secondary healthy habits are vulnerable.
When I’m under pressure, or I’m in a bad mood or just something unusual happens, I neglect one or two of them. My motivation decreases, I neglect some more habits from this group, I get moody and there I am sitting munching chocolate or other calorie bombs after dinner.
Luckily, I always have the granite base of my core healthy habits to stop me.

Thinking back, this week it was the new task I got at work.
I’m doing a complex logical check on paperwork of other colleagues and it is fun and exciting – no wonder it made me work more hours! I can work from home and one night I was up at 11 pm finishing one job because I just couldn’t stop. So I didn’t get enough sleep, woke up tired and moody, skipped my strength training to avoid being late for work, got home tired and moody, and guess what? Emotional eating had me.

Maintaining all these healthy habits is like dancing a complicated choreography every day. Each step is very simple, but it is a challenge to do them all. If I do it right, I’m rewarded with an inner joy and happiness.
It is absolutely worth doing it all, and going back to it after each failure.

However, this evening somehow I ended up with emotional eating again and don’t feel good.
But I’ll go to bed at 10:00, do my exercise before breakfast, do not work long hours and try again tomorrow.
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    740 days ago
    741 days ago
  • SHARON10002
    You're doing great by s many standards! I'm in total agreement with ARCHIMEDESII.If you managed to do all of these all of the time, you'd be perfect - and of course, none of us are. I'm like you, I practice healthy habits a majority of the time, and once in awhile I have a cheat meal or take a day off from exercise. Otherwise, it seems like drudgery. We all need a break once in awhile. Yours just happen to coincide with something stressful. I personally don't think you need to berate yourself for it.
    2185 days ago
    It would take a lot of discipline to keep up those habits all of the time. Even though you have trouble once in a while, it sounds like you do a great job of making sure that it doesn't get out of hand. I think that's key, as a lot of us tend to mess up once and really struggle to recover. It's so cool that you enjoy your work so much that you have trouble making yourself stop! Hopefully your weekend will be very restufl to make up for the sleep you lost this week.
    2185 days ago
    Hi, Kriszta !

    Maintaining healthy habits isn't easy. Finding the right balance of healthy eating, regular exercise and the occasional treat takes time. We don't want to deprive ourselves, but we don't want to be so Spartan either.

    As I tell people, if you can eat right 5 out of 7 days, you're still doing better than the average American. I think too many people feel they have to be perfect to be healthy. And the fact is, you don't have to be perfect to be healthy. It is okay to have an occasional treat. It is okay to miss a workout. As long as it doesn't happen every day, you're not hurting your long term efforts at good health.

    Here's a way to put your current habits into perspective. Think about how you lived 3 or 4 years ago. I'll bet your habits today are much healthier. If so, that means you've made progress. And that's the real pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

    Progress, not perfection.

    2185 days ago
    I'm probably several steps behind you in this process in that it's closer to every 2 to 3 weeks that what I think of as my "building habits" become vulnerable. I started out with a set of habits to build to - breakfast, water-drinking, more veggies, and so on - and like you, have developed those as a set of "core" habits.

    I'm always adding to an evolving set of new habits, though - for me right now, running 3-4 times a week is a big one. If something happens, that's the most likely thing to get thrown off track. And, like you, once off track, I'm vulnerable to snacking or whatever.

    Being aware is a big part of the battle, right? I hope you get plenty of rest and feel fabulous again soon. (or, since you wrote this yesterday, hopefully you ALREADY feel all better!)
    2185 days ago
    Because you have a mature attitude and because you do not delude yourself and are in control of your behavior, you can allow yourself some flexibility. Being absorbed in your work because you find it fun and exciting is a condition that most people never get to experience. Revel in it. I am happy for you.
    2185 days ago
    Changing lifestyle is a process. We find out how well we've changed when life throws surprises our way, and we see how we deal with them.

    I'm coping well with nutrition, and coping okay with exercise; but I'm struggling with enforcing bedtime and getting enough sleep. I would have predicted that food would be the hardest thing to maintain under stress, but it turns out that sleep is hardest and food is relatively easy for me. Who would have guessed?
    2185 days ago
    We all get derailed sometimes. It just seems like a bigger deal to those of us who are trying to make big changes in our lives. You got the most important part straight - just get that train back on the track and continuing the journey.
    2186 days ago
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