These days I have been thinking about the basics of living a healthy life. Food, water, sleep, activity, and stress. How are you doing with each of these areas? There are so many conflicting messages, so much information to study and decipher, so many numbers to remember, especially with food — eat this, don’t eat that. I’m confused, are you?
When you boil it down it’s pretty simple. When you eat food the body breaks it down and uses it for various processes necessary for survival. It’s your energy and your life force. So how has food become our enemy? Well, that’s the topic for another entire blog post. Over the last 2 years my personal challenge has been to make food “not the enemy”, if that makes sense. Relax, take a breath, take a bite, chew, swallow, enjoy. It’s only food. But it’s not just about food. I know that when I am stressed out or I rush while eating I don’t digest my food as well. I also know that when I am sleep deprived or dehydrated I feel extra hungry and crave cookies. Health is a big web of relationships.
Lately I have been racking my brain trying to understand the struggles, intricate relationships, and misunderstandings we all have with our food. It’s a tough train of thought to follow so I don’t suggest going too far down the rabbit hole unless that is your sort of thing. The one thought I have had over and over again is “get back to the basics”. The basics besides food (sleep, water, stress, exercise) can also be very helpful when trying to “fix” your food situation. The basics, applied on a consistent basis, are the key to it all, the “magic bullet” if you will.
There is no pill, potion, cleanse, exercise program, challenge, spa treatment, or concoction that can replace consistent effort. By consistent I am not talking about 30 days, or 3 months. I am talking about years. Y-E-A-R-S. As I mentioned above, I have spent the last two years of my life making food “not the enemy”. Actually, I should retract that statement because it has been many more years, more like 10 years. Do I still struggle from time to time, of course. I know that if I eat sugar I want more sugar. Do I still occasionally eat sugar? Hell yes because I love ice cream and margaritas. Do I know when to quit? Hell yes because I know if I go too far into the abyss I begin to feel reallllllly bad.
If you have a specific goal in mind, instead of thinking about years, think about tomorrow and this weekend. What are the steps you need to take to set yourself up to eat well? Do you need to go grocery shopping; throw something in the crock pot; chop some veggies; plan a few meals for your busy nights? What can you do in the next hour to set yourself up for success? Maybe you need to drink a few glasses of water instead of grabbing a coffee at Dunks – hydrate and save money. Maybe you need to turn off all your electronics and create a wind-down routine before bedtime or get into your bed 30 minutes earlier. Maybe you need to find your way back to a consistent exercise routine.
Let’s get back to the basics:
- FOOD – Are the meals you are eating on a consistent basis made up of quality meats, vegetables, fruits, healthy fats, and some starch?
- WATER – Are you drinking enough water (at least 1/2 body weight in ounces per day)?
- SLEEP – Are you getting quality sleep (7-9 hours uninterrupted in a dark room)?
- STRESS – Are you actively seeking ways to manage stress?
- EXERCISE – Are you getting an appropriate amount of physical activity for your goals? Is too much exercise contributing to your stress?
If you answer “No” to any of these questions, you have found your starting point. Back to the basics you go. If you need help, ask. Maybe you need your spouse to get on board with food prep – perhaps it’s something you could do together to make it less cumbersome. Do you need to change up a relationship with a friend who always seems to sabotage your efforts? If you need ideas because you’re bored with food, ask your friends about what they eat. If you are feeling stagnant with your training in the gym, talk to one of your coaches about the best path for you.
The best thing you can do for yourself is simplify all the “noise” by getting back to the basics. You don’t have to be perfect. No one is perfect, but I’m guessing you want to feel good and be happy. Trust the process, embrace the journey, and commit to yourself. You get one life, commit to making it the one you want to live.
Write that sh*t down! It’s totally helpful to keep track of this stuff: food, feelings, training.