I see it all the time; people making “lifestyle changes”. Usually lifestyle changes are relegated to one part of our lives: diet and exercise (Which irks me to no end – but that is not the topic of this post) but unwittingly this can affect our lives in other, more subtle ways.
Sometimes this is for the good of our life. We start finding ways to integrate food and exercise in a way that helps us feel better physically, or fills our time with healthy activities, or even builds and improves friendships and relationships in our lives.
But sometimes it can take a less positive turn and can take away some things in our life we really enjoy. There’s a popular misconception about healthy eating and exercise that they are unpleasant, drudgery and chore like. So if this is to be believed then the opposite must be true: if you’re living your life happily, you can’t be healthy.
This just isn’t the case.
For instance perhaps you’ve really started to “clean up your diet” (for lack of a better term) and things are going well; you’re focused, you haven’t “cheated” and things are showing progress. In your “old life” you go out every week for drinks with friends (you’re young and single, this is your social life!). Now because you’re so focused you either skip these evenings with your friends or you deny yourself your favourite meal every time because you are only allowed to eat salads and lean proteins. (But you love burgers and fries! And the occasional adult beverage. )
I bet you start to feel resentful.
And that good habit you’ve started starts to become a chore and something you hate doing because it deprives you of something you used to really enjoy.
Sometimes you have to find the middle ground… In the example above you could order what you wanted one of the nights out (one meal that doesn’t fit the healthy meal plan du jour won’t hurt your progress). Or a happy medium every time; a burger with salad or the lean protein salad but your favourite caloric-heavy beverage.
Then (and this is the important part) let yourself enjoy every second of it.
I do believe a lot of these instances are when diet or exercise changes become extreme in nature – and thanks to our perpetually perfectionist society we often have these extreme swings in habit. But the best way to truly change your lifestyle is to find a happy middle place where you still do what you enjoy, but slowly change the habits that might not be serving you.
Have you ever gone through experiences like this in the name of getting healthy? How did you find middle ground?