When Willpower Isn’t Enough…

6AM. You wake up Monday morning after an unproductive, yet fun, weekend filled with food and activity AKA another weekend of high-calorie excesses and nights out on the town.

“Today, I will get back on track with my eating and working out!” You energetically declare, as you chomp down on your PAM-sprayed egg whites, fruit and unbuttered whole-wheat toast.

With a bottle of water in hand, unlike your usual Coke, you merrily drive to work or to school or attend to your kids – or maybe all three. Either way, you know today is going to be different. Today you will eat right, workout and be stress-free. Today will be better than all the other days, weeks and months of failed attempts. Today, you will succeed.

Around 12PM, you grab your grilled chicken-breast salad bursting with dark-green lettuce and just a dash of non-fat balsamic, along with another bottle of that “flavorful,” plain water. With each optimistic bite, you think, “mmm…this isn’t as good as my usual bacon, egg and cheese sandwich but at least I’m having a good day!”

4PM rolls around and the usual dreaded afternoon slump has manifested. “But today is different,” you privately announce. “Today, I will not feel tired and reach for that chocolate twinkie. I will not choke down umpteenth cups of coffee, which I know will leave me up until 3AM. No, not today!”

4:15PM. Dazed from low blood sugar, you dizzily stare into your cooler or refrigerator at your fresh, and oh-so delicious apples and envision a healthy organic peanut butter and apple combo. As you reach toward your friendly apples, your eyes shoot back toward your desk drawer or home counter. Soft-batch cookies lounging in a container, just yearning for you to open them and enjoy. Your eyes shift back to your ruby red apples, “I should really eat this.” You glance back adoringly at those yummy cookies. “But maybe if I just have one, I’ll be fine.” As you inhale, you slam the cooler or fridge shut and race over to those chocolate chip delights. Upon a decadent exhale, you open the container and take a bite. “Mmm…this is A LOT better than that boring chicken salad I had earlier.” Suddenly, one cookie becomes two, and two become five! “Ugh…what have a done?!” You angrily shut the container and push it away. “Well, I messed up AGAIN.”

5PM. Tired from chocolate overload, you leave work or school and/or pick up the kids from their school activities. Time to head to the gym. Driving with a slight resolve to reclaim your good day, you follow your usual route toward BURN CALORIE CENTRAL AKA THE GYM, passing five fast-food signs along the way. $2 Combo Mega-Deluxe Bacon Cheeseburger and Large Fries. Try our new Double Chocolate Milkshake!For a limited time, All You Can Eat $10. Every sign menacingly shouting, “Food! Eat me now!”

“That food would be so good right now.” You soothingly tell yourself, visualizing each savoring bite of that bacon cheeseburger and french fry. Red light. Gym 500 feet ahead. McDonald’s 20 feet ahead. “What should I do?!” You anxiously divulge, “Well, I already messed up my diet, my workout will probably be crap, and that burger would be amazing…And that chicken salad really didn’t fill me up anyway…Hmm, I CAN just start again tomorrow.”

Green light. You speed up – not toward the gym – but toward that McDonald’s sign. You pull into the drive-through and order with half-disgust, have desire, that menacing $2 Combo Mega-Deluxe Bacon Cheeseburger and Large Fries. You shamefully pay the cashier, grab your food and head home, already gobbling down the fries before you even pull out of the parking lot. As you inch toward the street, your eyes shift toward the gym, where this morning, you were certain you would “kill those glutes and abs and run those five miles to shed those extra pounds before summer.” Turning away from The Guilt (The Gym), you mindlessly inhale your entire calorie-laden meal before you even get home.

So, what happened? The same thing that happens to over two-thirds, or 65% of Americans. A fresh, will-power-fueled attitude, followed by: LIFE. Yes, life will get in the way. It’s just a fact. And to put that much pressure on yourself to have a “perfect” day when the truth is, life is NEVER perfect, is asking to be defeated.

So how can we live feeling fit and happy – and normal?

Here are five easy, quick tips to help you to LIVE HEALTHY and still live life:

1. Quit Trying to Be Perfect.

Realize that life has dramas, chaos, amazing times and horrible instances and sometimes you just want a burger and don’t want to go to the gym. Realize this is NORMAL. Find a balance between healthy eating and non-healthy eating, workout days and non-workout days and then feel content about your decisions.

2. Resiliency is Key.

When you indulge at a meal, or have a less-than-stellar workout, don’t waste the rest of a potentially healthy day. Just get back on track and focus on the NOW and the rest of your day, not what just occurred. It’s over. Move onward and upward.

3. Plan your Day with Healthy Calories and Moderate Workouts.

Life can be chaotic, so having planned-out, fulfilling and effective meals and workouts will help to simmer the already overbooked schedule and stress. If you plan what you will eat and what you will focus on during your workout times, you can spend less time thinking about it and just do it. Include enough calories in your meals paired with balanced exercise to tame those rabid blood sugar levels and potential exhaustion. And for goodness sakes, keep those cookies out of your line of sight – unless you have planned to have one or two. Again, referring back to #1 – balancing healthy food with extra treats.

4. Drink Plenty of Water.

Everyone has access to it. You can flavor it to make it taste good. It’s quick and convenient. Now, there are no excuses. Why water? Our bodies are comprised of 60% of this fluid. Filling ourselves up can fight fatigue, give our skin a glow, fight fat and promote weight loss. Again, life is unpredictable so you want to have as much healthy arsenal in your favor.

5. Breathe.

So simple, yet so difficult? Yes, breathing is tough when you have 6449973 things running through your mind. But the clarity and calm that bursts through each deep inhale and exhale is worth it. When life becomes too busy to handle, take time to breathe. It will save you a lot of anxiety, stress and poor decisions.

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