It’s not all-or-nothing

In my own struggle to be simultaneously slim, happy, and physically and mentally healthy, one of the most important things I have learned is that wellness is not all-or-nothing. Rather, it’s more of a dose-response relationship. In other words, the more healthy behaviors and practices you adopt, the healthier you will be. For example, just because you do not have time to exercise as often or as intensely as is recommended does NOT mean you might as well not exercise at all.

I have had a hard time accepting this concept, especially at times when I have less time to work out or at times when I’m tempted to indulge in a very decadent meal or dessert. My closest friends and family know that I am not the most flexible when it comes to nutrition and exercise, but I have gotten a lot better.

Usually, when I am prevented from working out for any reason, I become frustrated and worried about gaining weight. I hurt my foot running a few weeks ago, and was told to stop exercising until it healed. There was a time when I would have run with the injury, but now I accept that having a functioning foot is more important than a week without cardio.

As another example, the other night I went to Chipotle, which had run out of brown rice. I had an internal struggle about eating white rice instead that would probably seem ridiculous to most people. Not so long ago I probably would have waited the half an hour for the brown rice, or insisted on eating somewhere else, but I did end up eating the white rice. I don’t think I’m any worse off for it.

Summer brings lots of occasions that test my resolve to be fit yet flexible. Eating healthy on vacation seems to be a universal struggle. You eat out for every meal, and working out is often not as convenient on the road as it is at home. I am actually leaving for Israel this week for a 10 day trip. The last time I went overseas to Italy, I was extremely nervous about eating too much and not being able to work out. But now I’m not so nervous. Why? It’s one week and a half of my life. My favorite part of traveling is the food, and I’m not going to deprive myself of experiencing any of it (except the meat, of course). I won’t get to run or work out in a gym, but I’ll be hiking and walking and being generally active the whole time. I’ll be so exhausted I probably won’t be able to lift a finger to do any additional exercise. When I went to Italy, I ordered whatever I wanted and stopped before I was full, and didn’t gain any weight. So I feel confident that I can enjoy myself without going overboard. It’s not all-or-nothing! 

If you’re having a big holiday meal tomorrow, or if you’re going on a trip this summer, these are my tried-and-true tips:

  • try to fill up on fruits and vegetables–make sure you’re nourishing yourself before you have treats
  • ask yourself how much you need of anything more indulgent to be satisfied, and only eat that much
  • be active as much as possible
  • accept that your normal routine will probably get off track, but your health and figure do not have to be completely derailed as a result
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