During the last few months, you may not have been able to find the food you normally buy. You may have relied more on processed foods or were unable to do the type of physical activity you enjoy. You are not alone. Many people have found it hard to follow through with their health goals during quarantine. Now that we are living under less restrictive conditions you may be fully realizing the results of your quarantine habits. You may find that you have gained weight or that your ability to exercise has decreased. You may be finding it difficult to get back into meal planning and grocery shopping routines. This is okay.
We are living through a global pandemic and it makes sense that your habits and your body have changed. You may be tempted to focus on the things that didn't go well, to feel like you'll never get back on track or to start saying negative things to yourself. This type of thinking doesn't help you reach your goals. Don't give in to stinkin' thinkin'! Start taking steps to set yourself up for success.
Set reasonable goals
Choose one or two habits that are most important to you and set a reasonable goal. A reasonable goal is specific, measurable and attainable. If you set a vague goal it is hard to measure progress and celebrate success. For example, it is hard to tell if you have accomplished the goal to "eat better." If your goal is not attainable it may just add to negative feelings and frustration. For example, if you are currently eating vegetables 2 days a week, a goal to "eat 3 cups of vegetables, 7 days a week" may be too ambitious. An example of a specific, measurable and attainable goal would be to “have vegetables with supper 4 days per week”.
People often accuse themselves of having no will power, when the real problem is, they aren't meeting their basic needs. Start by checking to see if you are meeting your basic needs.
- Sleep 6-8 hours per night?
- Eat a meal with 3-5 food groups every 4-6 hours?
- Have healthy and productive ways to cope with stress?
It can also be helpful to consider your external environment. Try these strategies to help manage triggers:
- Stock your house with nutritious foods that you actually like
- Plan ahead so you have what you need to make a meal with 3-5 food groups
- Make sure the foods you want to choose more often are easily accessible
- Store foods you are trying to eat less of out of sight to help reduce snacking when not hungry
Be kind to yourself
The first time a child walks they aren't an expert walker, but we don't tell them they shouldn't walk and that they will never be able to walk. We realize that they will fall and that they need to be encouraged to get back up and try again. Treat yourself with the same patience and encouragement. When things don't go as planned trace your steps and consider what you could do differently next time. You may not be able to follow through on what you consider to be a perfect plan, but that doesn't mean you can't make changes to improve your health.
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