How To Avoid The Diet Hamster Wheel

Unhealthy lifestyles create a self-perpetuating and vicious cycle. It begins with feeling like you don't have enough time, energy, strength, or emotional wellness to make any lasting changes. Pursuing a healthier lifestyle seems like a daunting task. Diving into a journey of uncertainty is challenging. I get it.

But when you neglect healthy living you end up feeling even worse. And of course, feeling worse makes it harder to exercise, take time to cook, and make other good choices. Thus by abandoning healthy living, you can find yourself trapped in a cycle of plummeting health. I call it the diet hamster wheel.

The only way out of this is to find a way to incorporate healthy changes, however small, over time.

I understand that 30 minutes of exercise or taking some time to prepare meals ahead for a few days is plain hard in some cases. Sometimes it's helpful to envision the benefits though. A healthier lifestyle could afford you the possibility of living a longer, pain free, enjoyable life.

The flip side of that would be the person that tells me, "Kelvin I'm living my life to the fullest already. I eat what I want, do what I want, and we all have to die sometime. I might as well go out on my terms."

If you are wondering if someone has told me that then the answer is, Yes. I have actually heard it many times. And to some degree I understand it. Truth is, a unhealthy lifestyle takes up more time than you might realize. The doctor's appointments due to being over weight and poor lifestyle conditions can take a toll on you. Being slowed down because chronic pain due to a sedentary life, and getting sick more often takes away time as well. Unhealthy habits such as emotional or stress eating, endlessly refreshing social media feeds can also eat away at time that could be spent doing something more useful.

If you want to make lasting lifestyle changes then you have to be prepared for it to take time. Contrary to what you may have been told, you don't have to join a gym, devote two hours a day to cooking, and spend all your time exercising. Instead, small decisions can add up to big changes over time. Focus on achieving your health goals in small, manageable chunks.

Here are 5 of my favorite tips for helping people start improving their lifestyle.

  1. Replace one unhealthy snack with a healthier option each day.
  2. Commit to cooking at home at least two days per week.
  3. Dedicate five minutes a day to exercise. You can increase this number over time. But you may also find that after a five-minute workout, you're motivated to go for 10, 20, or even 30 more minutes.
  4. Be mindful of your automatic negative thoughts and focus on re-framing them into more positive ideas.
  5. Schedule some "me time" each week so you can decompress in ways that make you happy and recharge your batteries.

Our society is busier now than ever before, so no matter how committed you are to living a healthier life, odds are good something is going to rob you of your time. One of the most important keys to long-term health is finding time for healthy choices even in the midst of chaos. The demands our world places on us are bigger now than ever before, but this doesn't mean you have to give up on healthy living. Indeed, making healthy lifestyle choices may be the best thing you can do to manage the chaos of an increasingly challenging world.