When we begin a new habit or routine when we put too much pressure on ourselves to be perfect, it is easy to get overwhelmed and quit. For example, believing we must workout hours a day when we are just starting out, trying meditation or breathwork and getting frustrated because we can’t do it every day, twice a day for twenty minutes or trying to eat healthy our diet becomes too restrictive to maintain. When we do these things, we become frustrated, can’t keep up and quit completely. I encourage you to implement a new approach to habits or routines and strive only for consistency. When we first begin a new habit, the key is to make it as easy as possible to maintain.
“Well-being is realized by small steps, but is truly no small thing.” Zeno
If you want to get into shape, start by taking daily walks for one month. If you are a busy professional, use this time to take phone calls or have walking meetings. Mothers with young kids can stroll the kids around the neighborhood. As you start this daily practice, note how it makes you feel. It’s highly likely that you will have more energy and are ready for more exercise. At that time, you can take it up a notch by joining a gym or getting a coach to help you build a plan.
If you want to implement a breathwork or mediation practice into your life but haven’t believed you had the time or ability to sit still for that long, start small. For example, set a timer on your phone and check into your breath a few times a day to create awareness of how you are breathing. If you find yourself breathing into your upper chest, bring yourself back to nasal breaths deep into your belly. Another easy step is to focus on breathing nasal only during your walks. After you’ve created this awareness, take three-five minutes in the morning to focus on your breath. You can start out with box breathing to focus yourself for the day ahead. You can listen to a five-minute guided session here
In regards to implementing better eating habits, begin by cutting out processed snacks during the day and add more real foods to your plate. I recommend shopping around the edges of the grocery store where the fruits, veggies, and meat are sold. You can also give yourself one day a week where you can eat pizza, fries, or whatever you want. Then, check into how you feel after you eat those foods. Do they make you feel bloated, lethargic, or give you brain fog? The key is to become attuned to your body and how different foods impact how you feel or act. While you can still have your cheat day, cut out the foods that didn’t make you feel good. Eventually, your body will start craving healthier options altogether.
If you’re incorporating healthy habits and routines into your life, I guarantee you the commitment will be worth the reward. Consistency is key, but don’t let a couple of days off discourage you from continuing. Life throws a lot of curveballs our way and we must be able to roll with them and not allow the stress of getting off track to overwhelm us. Stressing over your routines is as detrimental as having none at all. Our bodies and minds are incredibly resilient if we just put in a little work. The key to living a healthier life is to get started and find a routine that you can stick to.
To all the busy parents and people out there, I hope you can learn to take some time for yourself but always remember that: “Perfect is the enemy of good” - Voltaire.