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.