Monday, December 10, 2012

Healthy Living Isn't Easy

I'm just going to say it: Living a healthy lifestyle (a better life, if you will) isn't always easy. And for me, a lot of the time, it's downright difficult.

I've posted before about the fact that healthy living gets easier with time, and that working out can become a routine that your body craves as much as chocolate. I have a huge list of go-to healthy recipes, some that can be ready in less than 15 minutes. I've written lots of tips for making breakfast easier and ways to save time. I read and comment on lots of articles that make it all seem so easy.

But today I'm going to talk about the other side of the coin. Because making healthy choices--going the healthy route, being healthy--is not easy. I truly struggle with these choices every day.



Getting myself to work out is really difficult. When I come home from work, I'm usually near exhaustion. You all know I like my job, but I'm on my feet 90% of the time. After that, plus whatever curve balls I've tried to handle throughout the day, I want to come home and sit down. My couch is ridiculously, tantalizingly comfortable. It's really difficult to tell myself not to sit down, not to put my feet up, and go to the gym instead.

In the mornings (well, weekend mornings, because you guys know I don't work out before work), nothing sounds better than staying in bed another hour, cuddling with the cat, reading the paper in bed with some tea, and cooking a leisurely breakfast with my husband. But I also know that the chances of working out dwindle significantly in the later hours of the day, and I have to remind myself of that every time. Get dressed, put on the shoes, pick a workout. 


Making healthy choices at the grocery store is not easy for me. Over the years I've established a habit of sticking to the list. My purchases consist almost entirely of staples--milk, eggs, cheese, produce, breads, pasta, yogurt. I have learned to avoid impulse buys, but it's not easy. I see all the little plastic tubs of various chocolates above the frozen foods at Trader Joe's. I notice the little display of baked goods. I'm tempted by all the ready-made dishes that I could simply throw in the oven. It's not easy to walk past all of it and stick to the list.

Cooking homemade is hard. Much like working out, I have to force it sometimes. I often (and I do mean often) dream about In-N-Out. Or Wahoo's. Or one of the many awesome restaurants near our home. How much easier, faster, more relaxing, less stressful it would be to just grab something on the way home or enjoy a meal with my husband where neither of us has to do any work. It's hard to convince myself that all the shopping, prepping, cooking, and dishwashing will be worth it.

Choosing healthy options doesn't come naturally to me. It's no secret that I like hamburgers. A LOT. And I think I've stressed my thoughts on dessert more than enough. And while I do (usually) do a good job of eating those foods in moderation, that selection process isn't natural. At restaurants, when I order a sandwich, you can guarantee I really wanted the burger. And if, by some chance, I get the side salad instead of fries, you should check that I'm feeling alright. I crave greasy, salty, sugary foods. All the time. And I have to battle with myself every time I order or think about what to make.


Avoiding social situations that are unhealthy for me is not fun. I think this one's among the worst. I'm a social eater. When I'm with my friends and family, I eat and drink more than I would by myself or with just my husband. But social situations present other obstacles as well. I don't want to be the one to reject a restaurant idea because it's not healthy. At work I feel torn between joining my coworkers at the monthly PTA feast or sticking with the food I packed, fearful of what people will think in either case. Now that I blog about healthy living, I wonder what people think about the choices I make (I know, I know, who cares what people think? But don't we all?). It's not always fun when you feel self conscious even though you feel you're doing what's best for your health.


I do think it's all worth it, and I've seen and felt the benefits of overcoming all these obstacles. I get frustrated EVERY DAY that I have to continue fighting these battles. But today I thought it was important to share that it isn't easy for me. I'm tired, I complain, I secretly wish that something will "force" us to grab Chipotle on the way home, I don't want to eat a salad. Maybe it looks easy, or maybe I make it sound easy, but it's not. It's really, really tough.

15 comments:

  1. The burger section was a good way to tie in your blog title. Now I get it!

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  2. oh julie, i really really love this post. this is how i feel almost all of the time! sometimes i think there is so much pressure in this community to be not only healthy all the time but to be OMG EXCITED about all the healthy choices we make. and frankly, i think a lot of people act like it's easy because that makes it seem like they're perfect. sometimes i think blogging is great for accountability - there are definitely times where i think, "okay, i posted my workouts for the week so i should actually do them" and it helps me get to the gym, and there are other times where i will skip social events or work things that might be super fun because i'm worried about making healthier choices. it isn't easy, but i think you do such an amazing job finding balance and seeking moderation and that makes me so happy. that's why i love reading your blog - i come to you for a dose of reality rather than a dose of perfection. keep it up because i need it! oh and eat some in n' out for me :)

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    1. I'm so glad you liked the post, Molly! I'm totally with you, and I am so flattered that you come to me for reality. I promise to keep it real around here. :-)

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  3. Thank you for this post- yes, it is hard and this time of year especially. I think everyone, but especially teachers have an enormous amount of pressure on them at the end of the semester, between grading, finals, programs, extra staff stuff, etc. (I know I do anyway). I am trying to keep things in moderation this month and it's hard so it's nice to hear that I am not the only one struggling! You can do it!

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    1. You are NOT the only one! And I think you're right that moderation is key, especially this year. Let's enjoy the season, the treats, the indulgences--but with some restraint! I'm with you!

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  4. I couldn't agree more and I appreciate your honesty. It's not easy, especially when we are constantly surrounded by temptations... unhealthy choices... people who don't value their health as much as we do... But moderation is key! Life's too short to constantly deprive ourselves of everything. (Add kids to the mix and it becomes infinitely tougher to avoid "their" snacks...) I love my wine and I love my chocolate--just not every day! :-)

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    1. Thanks so much for your comment, Sue! You're right, we shouldn't deprive ourselves, it's just about finding balance and finding peace with that balance. Thanks again!

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  5. I think you are right BUT why is there a need to constantly be this healthy person (that is what I want to tell others)? I think you have found and many people need to find the balance where it doesn't become a chore. where you get to have those more natural choices and then the other time enjoy what you like. no need for perfect and that is what I tell myself.

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    1. You're definitely right--and I don't aim for perfection. I think it was really really difficult to get myself to a point where it's not a chore. And still, even though I LOVE working out and really love all my healthy foods, it's not easy all the time. :-)

      Thanks for the comment!

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  6. I LOVE your honesty in this post. It really isn't easy to be healthy sometimes and for me, it's about not going overboard on either side of the spectrum. Eating healthy has come relatively easy to me since figuring out how much better my body FEELS and responds when I feed it well, but I'm still easily tempted by sweets and then I have to keep it in moderation. It's definitely NOT easy.

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    1. Thanks, Katie! Glad we're in it together!

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  7. Thanks for this post! I feel some days that I am the only one that wants the boyfriend to say "Let's go grab something". I actually wish it on the way home! How do you get yourself off the couch at night? I am a trainer (teacher for adults) so I am on my feet most of the day too! I need help!

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    1. Ha! We're twins! I do the same thing, hoping Terry will suggest we eat out.

      My biggest tip for working out after work is not to sit down. I come home, go straight to the bedroom to change, then straight to the gym. I've already planned out my workout for the day and have no excuses for hanging around the house. I eat a snack about an hour before I get home so that I won't be starving upon arriving home. I think the "just get it over with" attitude really helps in this case!

      Thanks for stopping by!

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  8. LOVE this!!!! It does get more natural with time, but sure it's not as fun or easy as some other less healthy decisions can be. But then feeling miserable isn't easy either down the long road. ;) Great post!

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  9. Oh, how I love this. And it's so refreshing to hear. I think reading so many healthy living blogs sometimes makes me feel like making healthy choices should be super easy, since everyone else in the healthy living blog world is doing it. But you're right--it's NOT always easy! But it IS worth it :)

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