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

Self-Care & Spiritual Wellness are Keys for Battling Cancer by Scott Sanders

While this article is a little off-topic for a weight loss blog – it’s an important message. I was approached by Scott Sanders of Cancerwell.org to help get his message out. When I asked him what his motivation was for this very altruistic career, he said, “Seeing loved ones suffer during cancer treatment is heartbreaking. I have lost close friends to cancer, and that is why I have made it my mission to gather inform and share what I know, so that people will be educat ed.” 

Receiving a cancer diagnosis changes your world.  Your perspective alters radically, and now everything is viewed through a lens tinted by the illness.  With some thoughtful self-care and wellness strategies, you can keep a positive outlook and improve your quality of life.

A heavy toll

Cancer and cancer treatments can be a significant burden on a patient’s body.  You may experience vomiting, pain, exhaustion, and chills from radiation, along with the more aesthetic concerns of scars and hair loss.  However, the effects of cancer are more than physical.  Angie’s List explains there can also be tremendous mental side effects from cancer.   You may suffer with depression, anxiety, insomnia, and feelings of abandonment.  In fact, one in three cancer patients develops a mental health concern.  Sometimes relationships become damaged, and sometimes patients feel such despair they either actively commit suicide or passively do so by discontinuing treatment.  Without appropriate care and intervention, your outlook on life can decline and your overall well-being suffers.  It’s vital to engage in a self-care plan and pursue spiritual wellness.

What is spiritual wellness? 

Your spiritual wellness relates to your personal values, beliefs, and how you view your purpose in life.  Many cancer patients seek spiritual wellness as a part of their journey to help navigate the uncertainties and difficulties they face.  For some, spiritual wellness is pursued through their home church, and some look to a new faith organization.  Some people find help in meditation and nature.  It’s important to find a healthy manner to engage your spiritual side, whatever direction that may be.

Treating your soul

Participating in a spiritual wellness program is vital to your quality of life.  According to some studies, many of those who survive cancer receive important benefits from relying on their spiritual and religious beliefs.  They gain insights regarding purpose and the meaning of their experiences, cope better with the journey, and struggle less with life and death matters.  Those engaged in spiritual wellness can feel more hopeful and at peace with their circumstances. 

What is self-care?

As explained by Psych Central, self-care activities are tasks you choose to participate in that encourage your mental, emotional and physical health.  Self-care works in conjunction with your spiritual wellness, helping you to keep a positive outlook on life and helping you to feel better and improve your quality of life.  Your self-care should include things like proper nutrition, sufficient sleep, recreation, physical exercise, and relaxation.

Self-care and daily choices

It’s important to tend to your physical and mental needs, engaging in a self-care program that promotes a full and balanced life.  Self-care is highly personal, and the components for self-care when battling illness aren’t really different from other self-care programs.  It’s a matter of living a lifestyle that encourages your wellness, and everyone must find healthy ways to take care of themselves and gauge activities in accordance with circumstances.  Right now your self-care plan may look a little different from how it will look in a year, or how it looked a couple of years ago.  Tailor it to your current situation and make adjustments as needed.  

Evaluate 

Consider the following points when evaluating your lifestyle and look for ways to improve your self-care on a daily basis:

Rest.  Your treatment and illness can be draining.  It’s important to ensure you are getting sufficient rest and sleep.

Drink water.  Keep a bottle with you if you find you aren’t consuming enough of this basic element.

Say “no.”  Don’t overcommit yourself.  If there was ever a time you should feel okay bowing out of obligations and requests, it’s now.

Find space.  When you do need to attend obligations and events, find a quiet place for retreat as soon as you get there.  That way, if things become too much or you need a moment, you know where you can find it. 

Cancer and quality of life

Even with a cancer diagnosis, you can pursue a good quality of life.  It’s important to recognize your need for spiritual wellness and engage in a self-care program.  You’ll feel healthier and more balanced with those strategies in place.

If you’ve found value in this article, please look for Put Yourself First: A Guide to Self-Care and Spiritual Wellness During and After Cancer Treatment by Scott Sanders coming out Summer 2018.