Okay, so I want to discuss today how just simply NOT making things too complicated will help you better stick to your goals.
I have been so guilty of thinking that I have to do everything to the max, exhausting myself with going all out with EVERY single meal that we eat, trying 14 different variations of specific muscle group exercises instead of focusing on a few tried & true compound movements that give you the most bang for your buck and doing them correctly and with great focus, having to have the best of “insert random superficial item here”, etc. It seems like in the world that we live in today, that a person cannot just be. We have to reach higher and higher, we are constantly being judged and compared and trying to keep up with the Joneses that we kind of forget that the Joneses don’t really mean squat in the grand scheme of our lives.
When you put that kind of pressure on yourself (whether it be with your fitness, yours and your family’s nutrition, your kids’ athletics, grades, your home, your car, etc) you are setting yourself up for big time failure. Buying more and more weight loss products, clothes, shoes, cars, homes, and so on will not do anything but rob you of your peace of mind and make you feel like a failure for having all that and still not feeling successful or good enough. Believe me, for this I know from experience.
When I force myself to take a step back and really focus on the things that are important and the simplest way to make those things a priority, this amazing sense of peace fills me and it no longer feels like I’m striving to reach these huge unattainable goals.
So, with that being said, here are a few things that can help you stay in that Real Zone and stop overreaching, over scheduling, and stretching yourself too thin.
- GET ENOUGH SLEEP. This is probably the most important yet most ignored thing that we can do for ourselves. If you’re staying up all night because you have so much to do that the only way to accomplish it is to burn the midnight oil EVERY SINGLE NIGHT…..STOP! You have to let something go. Make a list of everything that you are spending time on and find the place that you can make an adjustment. For me, one of the ways this happened came in the form of cutting hitting lessons for my girls back to every other week instead of every week. We travel 45 minutes (one way) and pay $60 ($30 for each girl) to hit for an hour. If you do the math on that and figure in gas costs and the amount of time spent away from home the answer you come up with is: STUPID. Don’t get me wrong, the instructors (and there are several of them so that the girls are never just standing there by themselves hitting or doing drills) are great. They know their stuff and I can’t argue with the fact that both of my girls have improved under their instruction. But the cost is great, the time (about 3 hours in total including travel) commitment is hard to make fit in our schedule and that results in me being stressed rushing around to make it happen. Which then translates into staying up later in the evening to accomplish what those 3 hours cost me. By switching to every other week and having the girls hit off the tee at home on the off week, I am not only saving a ton of money, I am gaining time, which as I get older I am finding to be more important than money. Just that small change has allowed me to breathe easier, feel less stressed and most importantly it gives me more time. Which in the long run results in I can get into bed at a decent hour.
- HYDRATE THYSELF! I’ve harped on this before, but a well hydrated body functions about a thousand times more efficiently that a dehydrated one. Dehydration has mental consequences as well as physical. When you are walking around constantly thirsty, you tend to feel lethargic, foggy, unable to stay focused, and hungry which leads to eating when really what you need is water. Carry a bottle of water in your purse, keep one in your desk at work, use every opportunity to drink that you have. I make a rule that when I start feeling hungry and I know I really shouldn’t be, I drink a big glass of ice water. 90% of the time that takes care of the hunger pains. Water flushes fats and toxins from the body and can make you feel energized and help you focus. So make that a priority in your list of things that need to take precedence in your life.
- THINK SIMPLE WHEN IT COMES TO YOUR DIET. Let me throw out some terms that are commonly heard in the fitness world – gluten-free, non-dairy, non-fat, low-fat, low carb, organic, vegan, paleo, ketogenic, plexus, herbalife, beach body, IIFYM, flexible dieting, whole grain, sugar-free, whole foods, real food, etc etc etc….with all of these terms being thrown constantly in our faces, it can be extremely overwhelming for someone just beginning to figure out what to do. Please do not get me wrong, I am not slamming any of these things I am just simply saying that if you are the average Joe looking to get healthy this can be the thing that causes you to just say forget it before you start. Everyone is an expert these days, it seems. But here’s what I think: Everyone is different. We all have different tastes, different preferences, different things we are willing to give up and different things that we aren’t. There are all kinds of healthy people walking around on this planet and the one thing that they have in common is that they aren’t all doing it the same way. So in terms of figuring out your diet, my advice is make it simple. My diet doesn’t exclude anything. But I use common sense and practice moderation. And I exercise. That’s pretty much the extent of how complicated I get. Here is an example. The omelet below was delicious and nutritious. I used 3 ingredients to make it. Eggs, spinach, and a small amount of cheese.
Again, this isn’t fat-free, carb-free, vegan, paleo, or even organic, though I do sometimes buy organic. And sometimes I don’t. It’s just an omelet, folks. It was delicious and fueled my body which is what the purpose of food is. When you’re planning out your meals for the week (which is my next point on this list), keep it simple. If you buy a bag of grapes for example, incorporate them into your meal plan instead of letting them just sit in the fridge to be ignored all week. I often times will plan fruit as a side for my lunch or dinner to ensure that we eat them. Here I’ve thrown some (instead of say, potato chips) on the side of my BLT which was made with a piece of whole grain bread, 2 pieces of bacon, lettuce and a slice of sharp cheddar. Another simple meal. Wouldn’t pass the test of some fitness authorities out there because of its gluten/dairy/whatever else they hate, but again, it works for me. And it was simple.
- PLAN YOUR MEALS. Yeah, I know it’s a pain, I often dread it myself, but it’s worth a little bit of time and effort up front to make sure that you are prepared for the week and know what you’ll be eating. My meal plan is pretty loose. I check my calendar and figure out what meals will work for certain days, but I also switch the meals around if things come up (and they always do) to fit with each day. I do crock pot meals on days when we’re busy and have things going on in the evening. I do meals that take a little more effort on nights when we are at home. One thing is certain, if I don’t put some sort of plan on paper, I make bad food choices. Period. This one is a biggie, DO IT!
- And last but not least, DON’T STRESS. All of the things I have mentioned above can help simplify your life and make it easier to reach your goals, but let’s face it, life happens. We won’t always do everything perfectly and that’s ok. Consistency is what matters, one bad day here and there won’t kill you and it isn’t cause for abandoning the whole concept of trying to live a healthier life. So make some small changes (while focusing on simplifying) with how you’re living and get a plan, but be flexible and understand that it won’t always work out how you want it to. Just keep going forward.