Often, I hear people talk about their desire to change their lifestyle and adopt healthier habits.
“I’m ready to do it, but I’m just going to wait until after vacation to start.”
“I really want to lose weight, so after things slow down at work in a few weeks, then I’ll get to it.”
For most of us, life is hectic. We’ve got jobs that keep us busy, family, social events, and lots of other things that can make it challenging to focus on ourselves. I can see why people want to wait until the time is right, so that they have the greatest chance of success. But I don’t necessarily think that’s a good idea for a number of reasons. Interested in knowing why?
I’m a big advocate of slowly making changes to your life that you feel you can live with forever. That’s the best way to move from a “diet” mentality to a permanent lifestyle change. Waiting for the right moment implies that there’s going to be a huge shift from what you’ve been doing to something totally new.
You can’t go on vacation and still enjoy yourself if you’re on your “diet." There will be too many temptations to fall off the wagon, so you need to wait until you get back to start. But if you’re really thinking about this as a permanent change, there is no “falling off the wagon”. You learn moderation, enjoying the foods you love without feeling deprived, while most of the time still eating food that is good for your body. You might not lose weight on your trip, but you also don’t gain 10 pounds because you gorged yourself on food and drinks for a week. Waiting for the right time also implies there is a start and stop to the changes you’re making, instead of just a gradual shift toward a healthier lifestyle.
If you’re busy like most of us are, there’s never going to be a great time to start. There will always be things that can get in the way of your scheduled workout, or temptations in a social setting where food is available. You’re not expected to be perfect all the time. Sometimes you will miss a workout, whether it’s because you stayed out late and just couldn’t get out of bed in the morning, or you’ve got a meeting at the office that you just can’t miss. Sometimes you’ll eat a little more than you planned. The key is learning how to adapt to those instances while continuing to keep the bigger picture in mind.
Before I had kids, I needed conditions to be perfect in order for me to exercise. I felt like anything less than an hour was a waste of time. If I was tired, I’d put it off until I felt more rested. These days, I’m happy for any amount of exercise I can squeeze into my busy day. Often it’s a 20-minute online workout before my kids get out of bed. I might be beat from a long day, but I’ll push myself to do something (even if it’s not much at all) if I’ve got the time.
The time is never going to be just right. There’s always some excuse you can make, or something you think you need to wait to finish before you can start working toward your goals. In reality, there’s no better time than right now. Even if you’re making tiny steps toward your ultimate goals (finding 10 minutes to take a walk today or passing up that second helping of dessert), you’re still moving in the right direction.
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