How To Stay Fit Without Sacrificing Self-Care

Guest Post by Sheila Olson

My name is Sheila and I’m on a journey of exploration: what is the relationship between fitness motivation and self care? I overdid the “fitness motivation” side of the equation for years – I pushed and goaded myself along with guilt until my world collapsed and I discovered the deep unhappiness I’d been avoiding. I learned that fitness burnout is real and can happen to anyone who isn’t careful about keeping an eye on balance. Please visit me at FitSheila.com

 How To Stay Fit

Without Sacrificing Self-Care

Between weight control, increased strength, greater self-confidence, improved mood, and reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, exercise has many benefits. But when staying fit turns into a full-blown obsession that moves all other priorities to the wayside — to include relationships — it’s time to make adjustments so you can administer proper self-care. Being healthy does not come from one singular action, which is why it’s crucial that you’re living a balanced lifestyle so you feel well in your mind, body, and spirit.

Pursue Balance… Literally

One of the best ways to incorporate self-care into your already active lifestyle is by adding yoga and meditation to your workout routine. With consistent practice, you’ll see amazing physical and mental benefits, including better breathing and less stress. That’s why it’s a good idea to create a calm, meditative space in your home where you can easily retreat at least once per day. It doesn’t have to be a whole room. Simply a corner of a room will work in most cases, as long as the layout and design help you focus your mind. 

Establishing Normal And Healthy Eating Habits

Eating too much or too little, skipping meals, or eating too many processed foods all have negative side effects, like severe weight fluctuations, vitamin deficiencies, malnutrition, high cholesterol and blood pressure, skin conditions, mood swings, and lethargy. By establishing proper eating habits, you’ll have improved physical and mental health. It can be hard to replace a bad habit with a good one, but here are some tips to get you on track:  

  • Eat A Balanced Diet

When it comes to eating, learning and applying the original food pyramid (45 percent carbs, 25 percent protein, and 30 percent healthy fats) to your diet will help you establish sustainable healthy eating habits. 

  • Kick The Junk Food Habit

Processed and fast foods can cause weight gain, heart disease, and cancer, so it’s best to eat a diet filled with “real” foods such as fruits, vegetables, lean protein, low-fat dairy, whole-grains, and healthy fats such as avocados and olive oil. Many health experts actually suggest shopping the perimeter of the grocery store to avoid the middle aisles that are typically stocked with unhealthy convenience foods. The more vegetables you can eat the better. Aside from being nutritional powerhouses, they’re chock-full of fiber and water so they help you feel full without consuming a lot of calories. 

  • Track What You’re Eating

Whether you use an app, notes in your phone, or go the old-fashioned route with a pen and a journal, log everything you’re eating. Not only does it help you stay within a healthy calorie range, but it can be a tool to assess your habits — for better or for worse. To better manage your weight (to include loss), figure out how many calories you need each day.

  • Be Mindful Of The Way You Eat

Never let yourself become too hungry or get too full as both can sabotage your weight loss efforts. 

Get Enough Sleep

No matter how busy life gets, sacrificing sleep to get things done is liable to backfire in the form of weight gain, depression, reduced immune system, impaired memory, clumsiness, heart disease, and cancer. Implement healthy habits into your lifestyle in an effort to make it easier to get ample shuteye. 

  • Don’t drink caffeine 6-8 hours before bedtime.
  • Establish a regular bedtime and stick to it.
  • Avoid exercise before bedtime, but note that physical activity done earlier in the day can help with sleep.
  • De-stress before bed by meditating, listening to relaxing music or ambient noise, or taking a hot bath.
  • Never bring work or undesirable activities like paying bills into the bedroom — keep it a place of peace.
  • Don’t look at your phone before bed or during the night — keep it in another room to avoid temptation. 

Be Mindful Of Other Health Issues

If you’re recovering from a mental or physical illness, make sure you speak to your doctor about limitations or restrictions with regard to exercise — though you shouldn’t have to avoid it all together. In fact, physical activity can be extremely beneficial for people with other health issues. For example, exercise can help people with chronic illnesses boost their mood and improve their quality of life. Group classes, team sports, and the gym environment are all good ways to meet healthy, like-minded people, too. 

If you’re having problems finding balance between exercise and self-care, don’t waste any time. Speak to a professional who can help you understand the root of your obsession. While it may take some time to establish balance, it’s never too late to make improvements to your health — to include reversing any damage both mentally and physically.    

Photo Credit: Pixabay

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