When “life” gets in the way.
The title of this post expresses a reality that we all occasionally face: that our best intentions, plans, preparations, and regular routines, are disrupted from time-to-time by issues related to work, relationships, health, or other unforeseen circumstances. In regard to healthy living (defined as maintaining a balance of good eating, regular exercise, and stress management/rest/sleep), these disruptions can often result in a “forced” hiatus from some aspect(s) of our regimen. As I wrote about here, these hiatuses do not mean that we have failed, that we are a failure, and that we will always fail. (Don’t become a prisoner of your own plan and expectations.) Instead, use breaks to focus your energy, resources, and attention where it’s needed, and return to your regimen when you are able.
Speaking personally, I made it through April, and the end of the academic year! This is always a good feeling! Even though April (and November/December, for that matter) are expected times of extra work-related stress, this past April seemed more “compressed” than usual, undoubtedly the result of more-than-usual musical events held on campus (which is, in itself, a very good thing). There were days that I didn’t get away from work until nearly 9:30 PM, and, at least once, had to be back at work by 8:00 the next morning. Time constraints caused me to scale back some of my “extra-curricular” activities like reading for fun, and posting here, but I was able to maintain my eating habits and exercise routine: eating a high-calorie breakfast, and then frequent small meals throughout the day, 30-45 minutes moderate to high intensity cardiovascular workouts 5-6 times per week, and a 15-25 minute weightlifting workout once every 4-5 days. For me, the big disruption was my newest activity—writing and posting here. I just realized that my last post was on March 20, and today is May 13! I’m reminded of a Christmas when I was about 13 years old. My parents gave me a paperback journal, decorated throughout with Peanuts cartoon characters. I immediately resolved to write in it every day, and, after 3 or 4 days of faithful commitment, missed one day, and subsequently dropped the activity completely. It doesn’t have to be like this. Rather than allow guilt over a small “failure” to kill your motivation, if the activity has value for you, jump right back in and resume where you left things. This works with eating habits/food choices, exercise, managing discretionary time, etc.
May (once the last of the academic year stuff is done) is usually a season of creative productivity for me. I’ve found, over the years, that I do more practicing of the piano (for the sheer pleasure of it; repertoire that I get to choose, as opposed to that which I’m being paid to learn), and more inner reflection and journaling, than at other times of the year. In the area of healthy living (exercise, eating habits, sleep and rest, etc.), May and the following summer months affords me with opportunities for trying new exercises, routines, foods, and activities, which are not available during most of the school year. Ironically, summer is also a season during which I have to be careful with my food choices and quantities, because, while it’s easy to remain consistent in workouts, it’s also easy to simply relax during the rest of the day! During the school year, I’m constantly getting up and down from my desk, getting up and down from the piano, and walking up and down hallways and stairs, all day long, and burning lots of calories in the process.
How about for you? I know that many of you work the same job, all year long. You folks are challenged to find eating habits and exercise routines that complement that kind of work schedule. But I know that some of you who read my posts are in a situation similar to my own—busy (sometimes insanely so) during the school year, but relatively free during the summer months. How do your eating habits and exercise choices change, if they do?