That feeling when you have everything together and organized… How does this impact your self care, in particular, your nutrition and exercise patterns?
When you feel ON, you may find it effortless to get to the gym regularly, grocery shop for healthy foods, do some meal prep and eat those healthy foods on a consistent basis. You may also feel so good that it’s effortless to socialize, wear nicer clothes that show off your rockin’ gym body, take time to do your hair. That ON feeling is AWESOME.
Now, take a minute to explore what it looks like when you are OFF. Very much the opposite to that amazing ON feeling, these may be times where you isolate yourself, wear baggier clothes, and it takes much more effort to participate in healthy activities. Unfavorable foods start creeping in, and the couch becomes a more attractive place to be.
Let’s explore some behavior patterns for yourself. When you experience a stressful event, how does this impact your wellness behaviors? Do you suddenly find yourself turning to certain foods for comfort? It's not often that you hear someone say, “I was really stressed, so I ate broccoli.” Nope, at that point, we often turn to comfort foods and getting to the gym may feel like a chore. Be honest - what are those comfort foods?
The brain loves patterns and it loves routine and comfort. It is easy to resort to behaviors that feel comforting and familiar when we get stressed. It’s easy to resort to things on your OFF list. Each time you try a new behavior, you are working on changing your brain. The challenge lies in first recognizing our patterns, and then challenging our ability to participate in behaviors that help us become more ON, choosing things on that ON list, even when we are OFF. Practicing new behaviors - the opposite action to emotion- helps to create new healthy patterns and routines. Practicing things on the ON list when we are feeling OFF helps us to strengthen our brains and become more resilient.
Next time you find yourself turning OFF, resorting to comfort foods, reaching for the baggy pair of sweats and bucket of ice cream, pull out your ON list and challenge yourself to participate in just one of those behaviors. Treat yourself well, even when you don’t feel like it. There is a great sense of accomplishment when you sit back and realize that you were tough enough to not fall back on old patterns that derail your health and wellness goals. By changing the way you think and react to stress, you may find that it becomes easier and more routine over time to reach for healthy foods, get to the gym, and participate in other self care activities on your ON list that help to achieve long term goals, and to create a new, healthier YOU.