In the last few weeks, my topsy-turvy schedule has taught me some important lessons about flexibility when it comes to diet and exercise. I thought I might share a few here:
1. Try a weekly view
Many diets or exercise programs work on a daily schedule. While there is some logic to taking things one day at a time, I'm finding that when your life feels like a colossal blur it can be hard to maintain daily consistency. Rather than put myself under the stress of trying to complete "X" workout on "X" day and plan out my breakfast, lunch and dinner, I have taken a step back to gain some perspective. I try to think of my nutrition as a weekly endeavor and I try to make it to the gym a few times each week. The benefit is that I never feel like I "missed" a workout...I just moved it to another day of the week. And if I have a day where I indulge more than normal at my meals, I simply try to be more careful on the two following days. The result is that I have some leeway to absorb life's ups and downs without feeling overwhelmed or completely losing sight of my goals. (Plus, it makes these crazy goals much more acceptable to my family because I'm never going nuts saying that I absolutely HAVE TO make it to the gym today or I cannot POSSIBLY enjoy cake and ice cream at a social gathering.)
2. Have a "Plan B"
I often find that my schedule or commitments will allow me to make some effort toward exercise and eating healthy, but maybe not 100%. For example, I may have time to workout, but I may have to split my weights from my cardio (or do my weights at the gym and substitute cardio by trying to work up a sweat pushing my daughter on the swings and racing her around the playground). Similarly in diet, I may have a weekend where I watch the winds of social gatherings sweep away even my strongest attempts at willpower. When that happens, I try to keep myself in check by steering towards the goodies that have at least some nutritional value or I try to really savor the indulgence in the hopes that 3 really mindful bites of chocolate cake are just as enjoyable as 10 bites scarfed down with no attention at all.
3. Just keep moving
Sometimes I can't avoid being trapped in my office for long hours while I'm fighting to make a deadline. Or maybe my social calendar is booked with back-to-back events on a Saturday. I've devised a secret strategy to use these times as undercover workouts. That's right, I may be getting in shape right before your very eyes and you have no idea. "How?" you ask. Simple. I just keep moving. That's it. Don't sit...stand. Don't wait for people to serve you...hop to it and serve everyone else. Don't use phone or email to communicate...walk and talk. Just the simple act of staying in motion and on my feet often leaves me exhausted at the end of the day...and if I'm exhausted I find it hard to cry myself to sleep thinking about the 15 minutes on the treadmill I didn't get to log that day. I was exercising like a ninja--quiet and controlled!
I hope you can try out some of these tips when a tsunami of work washes up on your desk or when a waters of your social life rise above the levees of your neatly defined workout times and planned meals. If you try these tactics and they work, please leave me a comment below. Also, if you have any tricks of your own to share, please comment away!