Health

It’s never too late to get back on the health bandwagon

As humans, we are prone to get distractions. But when it comes to nutrition and exercise, it’s never too late to start again.

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Ayesha Qureshi

Ayesha Qureshi, MPH

Fell off the wagon and gained weight? Suffered a knee injury, only to put on more weight?

For me, the stress flooded in during the months leading up to my wedding. Planning my menu for the reception took the place of planning my daily, healthy meals. I tried my best to stick to healthy eating, but I found myself leaning more toward what was convenient. Exercise was going well, but I became overzealous and injured my knee.

Yes, I am a bit bummed, but I’m not dejected. Life happens, and we all can drift off course. What we must remember, however, is that it’s never too late to get back on track.

Here are five reminders:

#1. You are wonderfully human.

It’s natural to get mad at yourself after a relapse, whether it’s eating too much, gaining a dress size, or not hitting the gym as you intended. Once you accept your humanity, let go of the negative emotions and start over.

#2. Start now.

Instead of whipping out your planner and scheduling to hit the treadmill next Wednesday at 5:30 p.m., how about finding time today and do a small workout, even if it’s just a warm up. During your next lunchtime break, go for a brisk, 10-minute walk, or find a quiet spot and do a few push-ups. In fact, if you feel like taking a break from this article to do a couple of jumping jacks right now, I won’t mind at all.

#3. Gradually bring back the healthy stuff.

Yes, it is frustrating if you were once the queen of meal prep or the king of the healthy lunch bowl. Don’t get discouraged if that burger in front of you is just too hard to pass up. Instead of adding fries with that burger, how about a side salad or fruit cup? Instead of eating out for lunch every day, pick one day to bring lunch from home. The key is to build up gradually.

#4. One at a time.

Now that you’re taking baby -steps toward a healthy lifestyle, you might be tempted to go all in too quickly. This can lead to crash and burn. Pace yourself. Set aside two days as your “health days” – days you set aside to eat well and exercise. Once you get used to that, add another day, then another. Or start by improving just your diet at first, then move to exercise, or vice versa.

#5. Don’t get discouraged.

Starting over is difficult. Maybe you’ve gotten out of shape and it now takes longer to run a mile. Or maybe you can’t lift as much weight as you once did. Or those small portions that once satisfied you now leave you hungry. Don’t get down on yourself. If you did it once, you can do it again.

Our bodies feels much happier when they are living healthy. Start slowly, and you will soon find yourself back into your old routine, maybe even better than before.

Ayesha Qureshi is a certified health and wellness coach and has a background in health behavior and health education. 

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