Stress caused from life changes have an amazing influence on whether or not we are able to keep our balance and health in check. Unfortunately, it isn’t always negative stress that does this. Happy occasions and good stress can reek havoc on your healthy regimen just as much.
Personally, I experienced this during my second year in Business School when I started dating my then boyfriend, now husband. I wouldn’t say that this change in my dating status affected me greatly, but it definitely had a small and yet gradual impact on my motivation, what I ate and the way I looked. Although I didn’t let this go past a point of no return; and I was able to get back on track, it can be all too easy to let life events take over your normal health regimen, ultimately sending you into a downward spiral.
Here are five common positive life changes that I hear people speak of that often have a not so great impact on how they take care of themselves:
Starting a Relationship: Although you are feeling really warm and fuzzy, a new relationship often means eating out more, and spending a lot of quality time with one another. This can translate into more unhealthy calories and less time at the gym.
What you can do: Try to make being healthy something to share with one another. Cook healthy meals instead of going out. Take long ‘speed’ walks along the beach. Find activities to enjoy together.
Having Kids: As a parent, you are responsible for another life, or lives if you have more than one child. This translates into less time all around, not to mention for yourself.
What you can do: Instilling healthy habits in your kids is a great way to keep them healthy, while reaping the benefits. Gyms today are starting to allow parents to take classes with their children. If yours doesn’t, make your weekends active and dedicate a couple of week nights every week to doing something fun and active together. Include your children in making dinner and get them to be ‘helpers’ so that they can learn how to eat healthy.
New Job: When you start a new job, you naturally want to prove yourself to your company. This often translates into more time spent at the office, sitting at your desk and eating take-out.
What you can do: In short, you have to think ahead and prioritize. Your success at your job is directly related to your mental and physical health. Keeping yourself in shape will help you stay focused and be more productive. Go to the gym in the morning so that you can’t make excuses after work. Pack your lunch and if you know you will be working late, pack your dinner and snacks as well.
Going to School: You have all heard of ‘the Freshman 15’…well, there is a reason for that. Going away to school and living away from home creates major change. Moreover, if you are young, and haven’t been taught about healthy nutrition and fitness, there is a good chance you may make some unhealthy choices in your first year at school. Whether it be cafeteria food, late night pizza, alcohol, etc., there are many ways for a student to consume extra calories, without potentially burning them off.
What you can do: There is an obvious adjustment that occurs when you go to school. But, if you read ‘New Job’ above, you’ll know that staying healthy will keep you performing at your best while in school. Sign up for gym classes that interest you and look for the healthier, more nutritious options in your school’s cafeterias. Stick with the basic dos and don’ts when eating and try to get some sleep!
Getting Married: Getting engaged, and then planning a wedding can create major stress in one’s life. Yes, very positive stress, but nonetheless, stress. You are celebrating, eating out, spending time with family and taste-testing menus. Further, although you may be determined to fit into a certain size wedding dress (or tux!), getting to the gym can be a challenge.
What you can do: Delegate and learn to say no. Delegating the ‘have tos’ will allow you to free up some time to take care of yourself. Additionally, if everyone wants to take you out to celebrate, look at finding ways to consolidate time with various groups so that you aren’t celebrating every night of the week, for months. Also, think ahead. Make sure you aren’t going to your celebrations really hungry, as this will cause you to overeat the not so healthy items once you get there. Lastly, a lot of gyms have created ‘Getting Ready for your Wedding’ packages. Signing up and investing in this type of program will keep you motivated to get to they gym.
The best way to ward off the negative impacts of positive stress is by being aware and continuing to prioritize your health. Your health is the most important thing! Have you had any positive life changes that have caused you to ‘fall off the wagon’?