Monday, November 21, 2011

Consistency is Key

I have a co-worker who we’ll call Jenna.  Jenna is typical of someone who wants to lose weight, but goes about it completely wrong.  She always comes into work complaining that she ate badly the day before.  Just today, she started off the morning by whining about eating badly at a party last night, and in order to restore some balance, she was going to spend the day “doing detox.”  As I have come to learn, detoxing usually means skipping breakfast, eating a salad for lunch, treating bread as a forbidden food (which she does a lot), and eating something healthy for dinner, or skipping it altogether.   While she sometimes participates in an exercise class, she is very inconsistent with her workouts.  For instance, although she hasn’t run consistently in months, she recently ran five miles uphill on the treadmill.  She explained that she was sick of running just one or two miles at a time, and wanted to really push herself.  While that sounds great on paper, she may be in danger of burning out or injuring herself because she is putting too much strain on her body.    

Does any of this sound familiar?

For me, it is not only familiar, but very much a part of my recent past.  I have struggled for many years with an unhealthy cycle of eating poorly one night and then over compensating the next day by eating too little.  Unfortunately, this always left me feeling so hungry, that I binged on junk, thus continuing this harmful cycle.  Eating poorly went hand in hand with having difficulty setting and maintaining realistic and obtainable goals for exercise.  Just like Jenna, I have pushed myself too hard during a workout, instead of focusing on consistency and proper care for my body. 

You know what they say, hindsight is 20/20.  I see Jenna’s predicament so clearly, because I was once stuck there as well.  Based on all that I have learned, here are some simple and practical guidelines to help people like Jenna reach a healthier and more balanced daily routine. 

1.      Make the time to prepare and eat a filling breakfast before leaving for work in order to counteract the need to stop at the bakery or other fast food joint at the start of your shift.
2.      Prepare healthy snacks ahead of time so that you can munch on crispy and hearty fruits and vegetables during the day.
3.      Don’t overcompensate.  Remember that we all slip up, and it’s important to move on quickly. If you ate more than you wanted to one day, eat normally the next day with sensible portions and balanced nutrition.
4.      Bring your lunch to work.  If you have a microwave, bring chicken, pasta and some vegetables.  If not, then make your favorite sandwich or a colorful salad.
5.      Relax about your exercising and take care of your body.  It is better to do a shorter work out on a consistent basis, than to carelessly overexert yourself. 

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