Any lifestyle change is going to involve some sacrifices in time and jumping out of our comfort zone. Sometimes these sacrifices may be so overwhelming that the bright light of health at the end of the tunnel may be hard to see and we may consider giving up. When you get to this point of thinking though remember that making a compromise with yourself will be more beneficial to you and your health rather than going back to unhealthy ways.
Balance your life and health each day: Sometimes work and errands seem to take over our day and from the minute we wake up we are "go, go, go." Before we know it, the day is nearly done and we have spent little time on taking care of ourselves and to our physical and mental health. It is important to sit down and find at leats 30 minutes each day to care for your health, whether it be preparing healthy meals and snacks, being physically active, or going to a doctor's appointment. It is of course important to be physically active everyday, so finding 5 minutes here or there, getting up earlier, going to the gym after work or in the evening, or even saving up to purchase a piece of cardiovascular equipment for your home are all important factors that will help you to incorporate healthy habits in your busy lifestyle. After all, if we don't take care of our health, how will we be able to enjoy life to the fullest extent?
Reward yourself for accomplishing short term goals: Instead of getting hung up on your ultimate health goals and being disappointed when you face an obstacle or have a relapse of an unhealthy habit, reward yourself for those "small victories" that you accomplish along the way of your healthy lifestyle journey. For example, when you finally get through a full week without drinking sugar-sweetened beverages such as cola or juice, treat yourself to a night off from cooking dinner by purchasing a healthy frozen meal, frozen stirfry veggies with or without meat, or a healthy choice at a local take out restaurant. If you manage to exercise 3 to 4 days a week for 30-45 minutes a day for a full month, treat yourself to a spa treatment such as a manicure or a massage. These small rewards can keep you motivated as you work towards your ultimate goals, building motivation and confidence along the way!
Treat yourself every day in a small way: It can be hard to avoid temptation on a daily basis. Individuals around us at work bring in unhealthy meals and snacks, order takeout, and bring in treats for the office, fast food restaurants line the streets on our drive to and from work and running errands, and the commercials on television are filled with images of our favorite unhealthy foods in full high-definition. However, if you treat yourself to something small each day in what are called "discretionary calories", then you will be able to satisfy your small cravings for chocolate or salty snacks without packing a high calorie punch. Allow yourself around 200 discretionary calories a day, which is equal to about 1-2 (5-ounce) glasses of wine, one regular beer, 1 ounce of dark chocolate, or 10-12 salty snack chips.