I always expected to wake up one day and for it all to just click.
In this vision of my future self, I’d wake up just before my alarm, feeling well-rested and ready to take on the day. I’d crave organic fruit for breakfast, a salad for lunch, grilled tofu for dinner, and maybe an extra piece of fruit and some almonds here and there for a snack. I’d chug water by the liter and my day wouldn’t feel complete without a 5 mile run outside. Social events would be no problem for me, as they are all about the company, not the food, so focusing on my friends and coworkers would be second nature by now.
I’m sorry to say that this day hasn’t yet come.
Sure, some days are easier than others, and there are a few days where I do wake up before my alarm, but more days than not I have to fight for it. I still have to make conscious decisions to be healthy; choosing fruit over cake for snacks, choosing to go for a run rather than sleeping in, or choosing to order a salad with my sandwich instead of french fries (because I know I’ll eat every last one).
I’ve found that the “secret” to staying motivated is to realize that the battle is never over. Every day for the rest of my life I’ll have make little decisions to stay healthy that will add up to the big picture of being healthy over time. Over time, these decisions do get somewhat ingrained so they become more habitual than they were before, but I’m never going to get to get to just stop trying.
Planning ahead takes a lot of the guesswork out of these decisions and makes it easier to stay on track, be that with food or exercise. I find that I eat well mainly because I pack my breakfasts, snacks, and lunches the night before. Doing this is one of the keys to success for me because it makes eating the healthy food not only the best option, but the easiest one.
This became quite apparent to me a few weeks ago when I had a doctors appointment in the morning before work. It was my yearly physical, so I was having blood drawn and couldn’t eat beforehand. As I walked out of the doctors office onto the street, I was completely overwhelmed by the world of possibilities of what I could eat for breakfast. I suddenly realized that I was starving and without my usual packed breakfast, I reverted back to my old stand-bys.
Should I go with an egg sandwich on toast with homefries from the deli downstairs from my office?
Or wait, should I get a bagel with cream cheese from Au Bon Pain?
Better yet, I’ll be walking right by Cosi on my way and they have really good breakfast sandwiches!
It’s almost scary how easy it was to fall back into my old mentality, but luckily I was able to snap out of it and return to sanity before any damage was done. I knew that this situation didn’t really warrant a special, super high point (calorie) breakfast, and that I was just trying to quickly get some food. There are of course times for celebration and times when you need to give into cravings so you don’t go crazy, but this breakfast was not that.
Instead, I ended up going with the Starbucks oatmeal (plus a banana) and had a Venti Americano to reward myself, since I love that drink and rarely get it.
One of the best lessons I’ve learned since deciding to get healthy in 2009 is that it’s all about the little, everyday decisions. It’s important for me to continue to take it one meal at a time, one day at a time, one run at a time. I used to get so overwhelmed at the thought of all the weight I had to lose, and even today, I get overwhelmed at the idea of having to count points or track my food for the rest of my life. When I find myself falling into that mentality, I try my best to snap out of it and focus on the small decisions at hand.
Maybe at some point it will all just click and the healthy behaviors will become second nature, but for now, it’s something I do very consciously and something I fight for every.single.day.
What’s one small thing you want to focus on today? I’ve been majorly slacking in drinking water, so my goal for today is to drink at least two bottles of water while at work today (48oz).