Building Healthier Habits During Busy Times

If there's a time in your life when anxiety and emotions are at an ultimate high, it's during menopause, though that's not a license to throw in the towel and give up on getting healthy.  In fact, it is a good time to arm yourself with knowledge that will help you cruise through this life stage with minimal discomfort.

I have found that aside from balanced meals and exercise, there a few more things you can do to bring peace, comfort and good health into your life. However, good habits don't become engrained overnight.  It takes time and effort to make them a part of your routine.

Start by setting what might seem like a small goal. This could be writing down what you want to achieve, like joining a support group of women going through the same menopausal phase or even something as simple as drinking more water.  The key is to master one change until it becomes a habit. (To develop a habit, you must do it at least 30 times.) Give yourself enough time and confidence to master that one new habit, then move on to a new goal.

Here are some beneficial habits, which could ultimately bring you peace of mind and good health:

FAMILY IS IMPORTANT: Family is a major part of most people's lives and often the most influential factor in helping you make healthy choices.  Think about your health in the same way that you handle other important issues in your life.  Your family is your most valuable prized possession. Preserve your health and theirs for the long run.

HAVE A PLAN: Meals tend to be healthier when we plan them ahead of time. Plan menus for a week or a month in advance.  Keep track of healthy meals you and your family like and keep experimenting with new healthy recipes from time to time.

START SLOW: Do not try to revamp eating habits overnight. Decide on one specific change at a time. Remember this is for a lifetime, not just for a week.

GET CREATIVE:  Encourage family members to help in the kitchen.  When others pitch in gets them excited about the coming meal and can spark creativity in making healthy food that everyone will eat.

BE A GOOD ROLE MODEL:  Eating a variety of foods is a great way to model healthy habits for other members of your family. For best results, try to get everyone involved in creating healthier behavior.

PRACTICE NO-GYM MOVES: This means exercising without changing into gym clothes! Here are a few ideas: Place your phone really far away so you have to run to answer it. Get off the train or bus a few stops earlier so you can walk a few blocks to work. Walk around your building a few times during lunch. While watching TV, do squats, sit ups or grab a couple soup cans and lift them up and down. My favorite? Dancing with the broom.  This is when I let all my anxiety go and sing my favorite songs while sweeping the house.

NEVER, EVER SKIP A MEAL:  This is the number one mistake dieters make – they starve themselves during the day and eat everything in the house later in the day! If you are in a rush, grab a glass of low fat milk with fruit, yogurt, dried cereal, or leftovers from the night before – anything!  Just don't leave the house with an empty stomach.  Skipping meals will only lead to overeating later. Try to spread your calories throughout the day instead of eating all your calories at night – it will make a huge difference.

NEVER GIVE UP:  Without a doubt, you will find obstacles and resistance from someone.  Even when a family member doesn't show much interest or support, don't be discouraged.  Chances are that you are making progress in many other ways. You are probably eating together more often, planning meals together, and feeling more energetic. If you stay the course, you will continue to make progress.

GET SOME REST AND RELAXATION: Take time for yourself and truly enjoy your well-deserved rest. Turn off the phone for "me time." You will be happier and more energized to tackle just about anything that comes your way.

BE PATIENT:  It's okay if your family doesn't like every meal you serve.  If you keep exposing them to new varieties, they will find ones they like. Persistence will pay off eventually.

CELEBRATE:  When you and the family have turned a healthy change into a habit, it's time to celebrate!  Reward yourselves with a fun activity that everyone will enjoy. Outings like camping, visiting an amusement park or just an evening spent in your backyard – something different - will mark the occasion and encourage more healthy habits.

Getting you and your family living a healthier lifestyle may take a few extra steps but it's worth the rewards of developing healthier bodies.  Cheers!

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