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Deciding you want to get in shape is supposed to be a positive thing. However, for some people the pressure they put on themselves to get the body they think they need leads to self-deprecation, disappointment and eventually they lose sight of their goals completely. They either give up because they believe it is impossible or they go to unhealthy extremes trying to get there.
When starting a workout routine, it’s important to be kind to yourself and practice self-care. Sure, working out is definitely a great example of already practicing self-care, but beyond that you need to give yourself a break every now and then. Here are some ways to encourage a healthy and holistic attitude regarding diet and exercise and tips for giving yourself a healthy break.
Throw Away the Scale
Having a scale at home may seem like a logical way to track your weight loss. However, many people just end up obsessively checking the number and beating themselves up when they go up a pound or two. It’s natural and normal for a person’s weight to fluctuate around five pounds daily. Losing or gaining a pound or two is not a reflection of the work you put into your diet and exercise. Weighing once a week is a much better way to track your progress if you have to weigh yourself. However, if you notice an uncontrollable urge to step on the scale and a habit of beating yourself up if you don’t like the number you see, it is probably healthier to just throw out the scale altogether.
Don’t Cut Out Favorite Foods
“I’m not eating cheese anymore.”
“I want to cut out sugar.”
“Well, I guess I’ll never eat pasta again…”
Do any of these sound familiar? So often when we think of “dieting” we think of giving up our favorite foods. The thing is, declaring something is forbidden just makes it that much more tempting. Instead of banning your favorite dishes, learn to limit them and splurge when you feel like it. It’s much better to eat a bit of chocolate now, dismiss the craving and continue on with your healthy choices than it is to pine over it for days and eventually breaking down and binging it.
Take Time to Relax
Exercising is a great way to release stress because it releases anxiety-relieving endorphins into the body. However, exercise in the late afternoon or evening can stimulate the body to a point where it becomes difficult to sleep. Missing out on sleep is an easy way to sabotage your fitness goals, so it’s a good idea to balance your workout routine with some relaxing at-home hobbies that encourage you to wind down at night.
- Try crafts that help release stress and anxiety like knitting, origami, or working in a coloring book.
- Set up an area in your house for a meditation room. Create an altar, buy some incense and start a daily practice that helps cultivate mindfulness.
- Practice good sleep hygiene. Your bedroom should be an area for sleep and nothing else. Don’t bring your laptop to bed or binge-watch television before you go to sleep. Try using noise machines, good pillows and low light to help you drift to slumber.
Pursuing your fitness goals with diet and exercise is great, but don’t let it become an unhealthy obsession. If you find yourself stepping on the scale compulsively and beating yourself up when you don’t like the number, throw it out. Don’t give up your favorite foods. Instead, you should learn to enjoy them in moderation while making healthy choices the majority of the time. Finally, it’s important to balance exertion and activity with rest and relaxation. Create space in your home for relaxing hobbies, mediation and quality sleep.
Sheila Olson has been a personal trainer for five years. She believes the best way to achieve physical fitness and good health is to set and tackle small goals. She encourages her clients to stay positive and incorporates mindfulness and practices for reducing negative talk into her sessions. She created FitSheila.com to spread the word about her fitness philosophy.