Packing up boxes, organizing the details, getting moving quotes, switching utilities, tracking down a place to rent, changing addresses on accounts... I got that shit down pat. My husband and I just moved here to Austin, TX less than 3 months ago, and we are just now feeling settled. Over the past ten years, we have moved from small-town Indiana to Birmingham, AL to Dallas, TX to Nashville, TN to Austin. Whew! Makes me tired and stressed just thinking about it! And I know I'm not alone --- Americans move an average of 11.4 times in their lifetime.
We all experience times like these at various points in our lives. No one is immune to life changes, whether it’s moving, marriage, divorce, having a child, taking a new job, or dealing with a major illness. And even positive life changes like moving can still elicit a lot of stress --- physical, mental, and emotional. You are still put through the wringer and struggle to hang on to a sense of normalcy and equilibrium.
How we roll with the punches determines how we come out on the other side. Throwing healthy habits out the window and going mindlessly from meal to meal, day to day, leaves us with a few extra pounds and a frazzled state of mind when we are finally able to come up for air. Not only are we still recovering from that stressful period, but we are less-equipped to deal with new stressors now. Our fitness has suffered, our physique is stressing us out, and we feel so overwhelmed and on the verge of meltdown that we just. can’t. deal. It’s absolutely crucial that we take the time for self-care and do it in the right way for maximum effect.
And keep in mind, although fat loss is still possible, take the pressure off of yourself to make it happen. Let it be a bonus, not a requirement. If you’re obsessing about your physique, then you’re adding unnecessary stress to an already trying time. Commit to taking things day by day and practicing self-compassion. This will do wonders for your mental health!
Here are my best tips for keeping sane and fit while the heat is on:
Five words --- Keep it simple and easy. Two more words --- plan ahead.
We need to be aware of our natural proclivities (based on past experience) and plan ahead with solutions, so that they are already in place and take no more effort and time than the fast food option.
Take advantage of convenience foods --- pre-chopped veggies and fruit, pre-cooked/pre-chopped meat, frozen pre-chopped produce, rotisserie chicken, salad bar, ready-to-heat-and-eat meals from the deli counter (Whole Foods does a great job of this).
Your crockpot will come in handy here as well. Just throw in a protein like chicken, some veggies, and a liquid like salsa, and voila! Dinner cooks itself and is ready to eat when you get home from work.
If you must eat out, prioritize lean protein and veggies, and keep starch and sugar to a minimum (as well as booze!).
Stay as close as you can to your normal healthy eating habits, but take off the stress of being perfect. This doesn't mean going off the rails completely; rather it just means eating healthy when you can and giving yourself some grace when you can't. Make it a priority to make better choices, even if the absolute best choices aren't available.
When it comes to fitness during times of high stress, maintenance is the name of the game. This doesn't mean keeping to your normal workout schedule, rather working smarter and more efficiently in order to preserve muscle, stamina, strength, and energy. Stress can impair the body's ability to recover, so a downshift in both intensity and frequency of our workouts is necessary. Going for leisure walks may be the very best thing you can do, as it helps manage stress.
I know that going hard in the gym or hitting the pavement can feel cathartic and good in the moment, but it can backfire bigtime by keeping stress hormones elevated and breaking the body down too much to the point where recovery is compromised. This leaves you with even less stored energy and resources to call upon during the other 23 hours of the day. And high stress hormones = fat storage. No good. Practice the Minimum Effective Dose. Do as little as necessary to maintain.
And on the other side of the effort spectrum, don't let what you can't do stop you from doing what you can do. Can't life for an hour? Can you fit in a few sets of squats and push-ups? Can't go for your usual 3-mile run or walk? Can you do 10 minutes? Five minutes?
Sometimes it’s more about keeping the momentum going than about getting a significant training response. And those reps and sets here and there really start to add up over time.
As always, I’d love to hear from you. What strategies do you employ when time and motivation are an issue? Share your tips over on the B Kinetic Fitness Facebook page.