People often say to me “Now isn’t a good time for me to try to make health changes.” It could be because they have a vacation coming up, work is crazy busy, it’s almost their birthday, or it’s the holiday season (does “I’ll just start in January” sound familiar?). It can be overwhelming to think about making changes to your eating and exercise habits, and it may seem to make more sense to wait until you have time.
If I have more time to do these health changes right, won’t I be more likely to succeed?
I’m so busy so I know that I’ll have to miss some workouts and will probably eat the wrong things, I’m just setting myself up to fail.
But in reality, this ‘pause-button’ mentality works against you. Here’s why there’s never a perfect time to make health changes – and what to do instead.
It won’t work when real-life hits
Look at how many 30-day “reboots” and 21-day “challenges” there are. These programs make you go all-out with diets and/or workouts, which no one can do for more than a few weeks at a time. While it may work in the confines of lull at work or a slow travel season, what happens when real life hits? While it seems counterintuitive, it can be helpful to start to make health changes while you are in the midst of your normal, busy life. That way, you learn how to incorporate new eating, exercise and stress management strategies into your typical day-to-day schedule. If you’re working with a health professional, they can help you navigate challenges as they arise.
It only makes you good at pausing
These short-term diets and programs teach you how to make changes for a very short period of your life. What they don’t teach you is how to make healthy changes – and maintain them – in the midst of a normal, busy, life. The more you hit pause on making health habit changes, the better you get at pausing, but you don’t learn any habits that you can take with you for your “real” life.
You’re probably trying to make unsustainable changes
If you feel like you need to wait until things are “perfect” before making changes, whatever you’re trying to do is probably unsustainable in the long run. What good does it do to cut out a food group for 21 days or go on a 7 day juice cleanse? (Answer: nothing). These changes are not sustainable, not to mention unnecessary, and won’t make any difference in your long-term health.
Life does not have a pause button. There’s never going to be a period time where things are suddenly easier. Often we throw the baby out with the bathwater and if we can’t do it all the way, we don’t do anything. Instead of shooting for perfection, aim to do something. If that means five workouts one week and one workout the next, that’s perfectly fine. It could mean aiming to get veggies at least once a day or going to bed 30 minutes earlier. Meet yourself where you are at and start with slow, sustainable health changes. There’s no need to wait until post-vacation or after busy season – just start something now.
What small change are you going to make? Share with us in the comments below. Looking for a little inspiration? Sign up for our newsletter for all things nutrition and wellness.