When Life Gets in the Way

“I just don”t have the time at the moment…”

Sound familiar?

Despite our propensity to overeat, under-exercise, and grow steadily heavier and more out of shape, we all yearn to be slender, fit, and attractive.

Whether we want to deny it or not, it seems our culture rewards the thin and the beautiful; look at how we devour celebrity gossip, mesmerized by the looks and energy of our current favorites.

Why the discrepancy between our aspirations and our reality?

There are a plethora of reasons, most of which can be traced to the simple fact that life gets in the way…

“I”d love to cut back on my food intake,” we insist, “But I have to attend all these work functions and have little control over the meals that are served.”

“I would really like to get in shape,” we complain, “But there”s no free time and I can”t afford a personal trainer like those celebrities.”

It would be so wonderful to have loads of free time: to plan our days; to cook low calorie, healthy meals; to exercise without time constraints; to be able to pamper ourselves without the pressure of deadlines. Unfortunately, our lives are too hectic for that to happen in the foreseeable future. We can throw up our hands in frustration and join the legions of the overweight and the unfit, or we can work out a personal plan that fits within our lifestyle, taking us where we want to go.

Your life, your time, the demands and responsibilities you face, vary on an individual basis. You will need to calculate what works for you, and what can be realistically accommodated. Here are some ideas to consider:

1. Diet

Eating on the run or at your desk wreaks havoc with even the best-laid diet plans. If you”re even half a dress size more than you”d like, try to identify where you are going astray.

If fast food on your way to an appointment is your downfall, look at what you order. Almost all drive-thrus these days offer salads. The problems with those salads can be minimised by throwing away the little bag of croutons (fried) and omitting the packaged dressings (loaded with fat). Carry your own individual container of low calorie dressing or ask for vinegar, opt for (unsweetened) ice tea, water or black coffee, and avoid those sugar-laden soft drinks like the plagues they are.

If you lunch at your desk, ask yourself what are you eating? Can you make extra dinner the night before and bring in some healthy leftovers, or make a quick and nutritious sandwich in the morning before leaving?

Is your office always filled with snacks and treats (as most of them seem to be these days)? When the snacks come by, go to the bathroom or, better yet, take a brisk walk around the building to beef up your “won”t” power and clear the vision of goodies from your head. Or, decide to take just ONE small treat, take the time to enjoy it, and incorperate it into your daily nutrition requirements (more on this here).

If business lunches, dinners, or those awful meeting banquets are your obstacles, plan ahead. Lunch is relatively easy: salad (with your own dressing, of course) or fish and chicken are available almost anywhere. For dinner, try two lower calorie, high protein appetizers instead of an entrée. Best of all is something that you have to work at – crab legs, unpeeled shrimp, an artichoke (hold the hollandaise) – it will take a lot of time and no one will notice that youre not stuffing your face like the rest of the table.

Banquets are particularly difficult because a plate is plunked in front of you, filled with food you would never order by choice. Cut whatever protein and vegetables there are into little pieces and chew slowly. Spread the rest out over your plate and play with it to delay the onset of a syrupy dessert. Get a cup of coffee- black or with a dash of low-fat milk, and place it squarely in front of you to thwart that eager-beaver waiter who keeps trying to slide a plate of pie on to your table.

2. Exercise

With the best of intentions, millions of us purchase gym memberships. If we all actually used them on a regular basis, as we promise ourselves we will, there would be waiting lines spilling into the streets. Gyms can keep signing up more and more members because they know that the number of regulars will stay about the same as the new enrollees will show up in a burst of initial enthusiasm but within a few short weeks will gradually fade away.

Unless you have a job with very regular hours, something few of us enjoy these days, it”s difficult to commit to going somewhere on a regular basis. We mean to go but then an important meeting comes up, our significant other asks us to do something, or the kids pester us to drive them somewhere.

Whether it”s at the gym, at home, in your local park… whatever… you need to be able to fit exercise that you can enjoy, easily into your time schedule. It is entirely possible, it just takes a bit of thought and planning.

Our lives are so filled up with what we have to do that our wants and internal needs are often unmet. In even the busiest and most demanding schedule, there are moments we can carve out for ourselves, but only if we absolutely insist on it.

Right now is the time to become assertive about your own self. You too deserve a lean, healthy body and to take control of your life.

What lifestyle changes have YOU made – big or small – that you feel proud of? Do share them with us in the comments section below!

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