Ever have one of those really long weeks that seems like it may never end? I’ve had this feeling for the past week now. It seems like no matter what I do, I can’t get ahead of the workload, find time for myself or make all those healthy meals I was planning to make.
I haven’t totally fallen overboard. I’m not eating at fast food restaurants, making mashed potatoes out of box (oh there were years where this was my “go to” side dish) or binging on donuts, bagels and candy bars. But I haven’t been juicing as much or eating many veggies and I’ve started snacking on chips and salsa and sugary granola bars. Canned tuna has crept in as a main dinner staple. I’m frequenting the sushi bar and gluten free pizza has been on my plate more than I’d like as I struggle to get a quick lunch.
I’m starting to feel the fatigue and my sugar and gluten cravings are starting to kick in. Where’s the veggies? Where’s the clean eating I’ve been following for years? I’ve allowed a crazy work schedule to take over my life.
The less attention I pay to nutrition and the more I don’t cook at home and start buying even the so called “healthy foods” at the store, the IFLC syndrome kicks in (also known as: I Feel Like Crap). The more I eat like this, the more I begin to crave the sugary, high-carb foods that packed the pounds on years ago. As a wellness coach, I know this. So what gives?
Life has become a little off balance, much like the days when I worked in the high pressure, fast paced advertising industry. I remember I kept a steady diet of coffee, sugar, packaged foods, sandwiches and donuts, leftover from the early morning office meeting, to get me through. Oh and lots of wine and cheese happy hours with colleagues as we decompressed from our long, pressure-cooker days.
Those were really long days. There was a lot of stress. There was great anxiety over aggressive deadlines and a general feeling of dread that hovered over my days as I sometimes struggled to keep up and be creative. Ever felt like that? It’s uncomfortable and if you live with that feeling long enough, you begin to pick up bad habits like I did and start emotional eating to help ease the stress and frustration. And we all know that doesn’t work.
I’ve left much of that behind but we all have great intentions and we all have lives that sometimes get in the way of what we think we should do and what we can do.
There is always that delicate balance. And while we can’t always control the “little things” that hijack our days, we can pay attention to these events and try for “better” the next day.
Remember, your most precious asset is you. Take good care of it.
Meditation and Mindfulness have become regular practices that have helped me get my life more in balance, reduce my anxiety and build more resiliency. I also strive to sleep 8 hours a night and am very mindful of my emotions and triggers that can set me off in a downward spiral. I’m also aware that what I put in my mouth to eat is important. My eating habits are a part of what affects my mood, my anxiety levels and the amount of resiliency I have in any given moment.
When I find myself searching for a quick meal at the store, I ask myself; how will this make me feel? If it doesn’t fuel me, it most likely will deplete me. This is the fine art of making the food/mood connection.
I don’t beat myself up anymore when I have a bad day of eating or even if it lasts a couple of days. But I try to be more conscious of this and make adjustments to my schedule and put myself first again. This isn’t being selfish, it’s a form of self-care. This is taking care of yourself so you can be of service to those you love and care about. If you are depleted, there isn’t much left to give anyone, let alone yourself. That’s when things start to fall apart and we spiral into self-destructive thoughts and habits.
So what are some simple steps we all can do to make better food choices when in a pinch? Making larger batches of food and having left over’s for the week is a life saver. I love the concept of cooking once and eating twice. Or more! My grandmother was an expert at this. She always had leftovers and most of the time could make another 2 or 3 quick meals out of last night’s dinner.
Now when I grill dinner for family and friends, I try to add additional protein and veggies to the recipe so I have leftovers to add to my salads for the week. This helps me eliminate frequent trips to the store to get “less than healthy” packaged salads with sugary, carb loaded salad dressings. Making smoothies ahead of time and storing in mason jars and freezing helps on those frantic mornings when you need a quick grab-and-go breakfast. Or having hard-boiled eggs on hand. What about a delicious twist on an old classic, oatmeal. Now I'm talking about real oatmeal you have to cook in a pot, not the little packets you add water to or microwave. Those instant oatmeal packets are full of quick oats with little fiber and a whole lot of sugar added. Real steel cut oatmeal is a great breakfast option you can make the night before in large batches and enjoy all week. Add chia seeds, nuts and berries to add extra nutrition and fiber. When we don’t have convenient foods on-hand on busy mornings, we usually make bad choices and end up grabbing a bagel or going through a drive thru window. We also tend to overeat throughout the day when we skip breakfast.
Bottom line, I wasn’t prepared as much as I normally would be this past couple of weeks due to travel and a busy work schedule. But I’m not going to beat myself up. I’m going to do better starting today and go shopping so I can prepare for the upcoming week! It takes a little bit of planning but in the long run I feel and look better. That’s my goal for today. How about you? What little changes can you make to keep on a healthy eating path?
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Peace, love and pear!