So, you’re decided to start your diet and exercise plan again.
Maybe the holidays are over and you’re finally going to get that new diet going and go to the gym 3 or four times a week. Or maybe you’ve just realized it’s time to start eating healthier so you can feel better during the day and give yourself a chance at a longer life.
How can you keep your new diet and exercise plan going, instead of starting, quitting, then restarting again?
Well, most of it comes down to willpower and self-control, but what causes us to just throw it all away and forget our goals? Well the biggest key to getting your level of will power and self-control to a higher level comes down to stress.
Think about how easy it is to follow a diet (or any goal you might have) when things are going well in your life, and you’re not to stressed out by things like your job, the kids, or family? Especially at the beginning. You start off quickly and do very well. But what happens when you have a bad day at work? It’s pretty easy to come home and binge on junk food and enjoy yourself a bit too much.
If you can reduce the stress in your life, you can be better at homing in your self-control and willpower. So, what are some ways we can do this? The typical things like shopping, gaming, and eating may actually raise your stress levels due to guilt and the bad effects afterward so let’s at some other ways we can do this.
Get More Sleep
Although sleep is one of the most important things about staying healthy, many of us neglect it. We may stay up too late working on projects, or we may just indulge ourselves with a TV show binge on Netflix. Another culprit would be cell phones before bed. Studies have shown that the blue light emitted from your phone can affect how you fall asleep and your sleep quality.
You may not need to be super strict at first but give yourself a designated bedtime and follow it even on the weekends. Your body can then get used to a routine, and in turn, your sleep will improve by a lot.
You will also want to take care of any problems that might be affecting your sleep like snoring or obstructive sleep apnea. I was actually diagnosed with OSA earlier this year. I couldn’t figure out why even after 8-10 hours of sleeping, I would still be exhausted throughout the day. Of course, this led to eating more junk food near bed time and led to weight gain. It was a nightmare until I had a sleep study done and started CPAP treatment.
After the treatment, my life completely changed. I went from having no energy, to having tons of energy throughout the day which made it easier to follow my diet and exercise plan.
Avoid heavy technology use before bed time
This ties in to the point mentioned above. Although it’s likely impossible to avoid all things like computers and cell phones before bed time, you can turn down your usage before bedtime. In fact, it has been shown that heavily using your cell phone or computer before bed can actually increase your stress levels.
Try to get what you need to be done a few hours before bedtime and then relax with a good book or some music.
Go for a walk outside
So many of us have seemed to forget how relaxing a simple walk outside can be. Especially on clear, warm, sunny days. Most of us (especially in the northern climates) don’t get enough sunlight exposure which affects vitamin D levels which then in turn affects our quality of sleep.
Also, just hearing the sights and sounds of the outdoors can be a welcome break from being in the office or house all day long. If you have a quiet park nearby, then all the better.
This works especially well if you have a dog. We got a dog three years ago, and one of the best things about having a dog has been that it forces us to go outside at least once a day. We always feel better and refreshed afterward even if we may not have felt like going outside before.
And there you have it! These are just three simple things you can do to reduce your stress levels and in turn improve your willpower and self-control. These things don’t just apply to diet and exercise but are good for your overall health as well.
There are also many other things you could do as well. Just try to think of something that would make you relaxed AND not feel bad afterward. Different things may work for different people.