When you hear "healthy lifestyle," do you immediately roll your eyes and think to yourself: "healthy, sustainable and realistic just don't go in the same sentence!"
Does a healthy lifestyle seem overwhelming and waaaay too time consuming because you've been stalking Instagram accounts of totally ripped women spending hours in the gym and cooking and food prepping EVERY. SINGLE. MEAL?
And never going out to eat?
And never making exceptions?
And never skipping a workout?
And scoffing at people who say they don't have time because #noexcuses.
Ya. Social media can really make healthy look overwhelming. And that's not cool.
What we often forget when we see posts on social media is that those people in the images we're drooling over and #bodygoals over - they're real people. And they didn't go from sitting on the couch all day to having totally drool worthy bodies.
If you're ready to workout 3 hours a day and meal prep all your food - go for it! But most of us aren't quite to that point. Most of us need to start a little slower and know when we can make exceptions so our healthy habits can actually be realistic.
What's more? Instead of getting disappointed every time you make an exception, you need to know that exceptions are totally ok. Making exceptions is normal. Even with exceptions, there are so many successes you can and should be celebrating.
But like with all things, balance is required. You can't always make exceptions and you don't always remember to celebrate. Don't let yourself get overwhelmed trying to figure out when to make exceptions and when to celebrate. I have a free list of 24 situations to show you when to make exceptions and when to celebrate.
Plus, we're about to dig into the details of a few exceptions and celebrations right in this post. Aren't you lucky!? (cue smirk)
Having a plan: Not an exception
Making a plan CANNOT be an exception. In order to have a successful healthy lifestyle, you have to start out with realistic goals and a practical plan. Plans enable you to move forward without feeling overwhelmed, stressed and chaotic.
Think about it like this: if you decided to take a road-trip from LA to New York, would you just hop in the car and start driving? Probably not.
Before you left, you would probably pack your suitcase so you had enough clothes to last you along the way. You might stop by the store for snacks along the road. And you would most definitely map out your route to make sure you ended up in New York instead of Florida.
Deciding to create a healthy lifestyle without a plan is like starting a road-trip with a specific destination, without a map.
If you know where you want to end up, there will always be a specific path you have to take.
So making a plan? Not an exception.
Creating your plan: Celebrate
However, sitting down to actually gather your thoughts and create a practical plan is TOTALLY something to celebrate! Every time you take any action toward a healthier you, you should celebrate it! And that celebration should start at the very beginning.
You're probably either really eager or really hesitant to get started. So whether you're celebrating planning because it meant you had to pull back your excitement a bit to make sure you get a realistic plan in place (so you don't end up running around like a chicken with its head cut off in 2 weeks) -- or if you're celebrating because you've been hesitant to start making healthy changes and you braved that nervousness and made realistic goals and a practical plan.
Whatever your initial perspective was, you should definitely celebrate once you make your plan!
Sticking to your plan: Make exceptions
As important as it is to stick to your plan, you need to make sure to leave room for exceptions. Because as much as you may think you're Superwoman, you are actually human. If you create a crazy plan that doesn't allow for any breaks, you need to re-think your plan. Otherwise you'll go crazy, you might have a breakdown and you'll also be setting yourself up for failure. So don't.
Life happens. Changes come up, we get disappointed, and whatever the situation might be, your plan can't be so strict that it doesn't allow you to live your life. That's why I talk about the importance of planning for failure in Motivation Resuscitation.
So when you have to skip a small item on your to do list or push back something important to the next day, cut yourself some slack. Exceptions are meant to be made. When things don't go quite as planned, make an exception and cut yourself some slack.
Only accomplishing half of your plan: Celebrate!
That's right. If you've only accomplished half of your plan, you should celebrate!
It's far too easy to get bogged down by negative thoughts and failures. So you only accomplished half of your plan, so what! Don't get me wrong, I'm all about planning and being consistent, but accomplishing half of your plan is not a failure.
Why? Because half of your plan is more than you accomplished the day before. And it's probably far more than you accomplished last week or last month. And it's definitely more than you would have accomplished without a plan.
And that should be celebrated!
You can always re-work your plan for the next week and there's nothing wrong with that.
Do you usually sit on the couch watching TV for an hour after work? Did you end up going on a walk today but you skipped your workout? That walk was still FAR BETTER than sitting on the couch. So you should celebrate it.
You need to celebrate each and every win! No matter how big or small it might seem.
All those positive endorphins will feed your motivation and make you feel like you're King or (Queen) of the hill.
Want to be Queen of the hill all day, every day? Be sure to download the list of 24 times to celebrate and make exceptions.
Setting challenging goals: Don't make exceptions
Similar to not making exceptions with planning, you can't make exceptions with setting challenging goals. Yes, your goals need to be realistic and you need to break your goals down into check-point goals, but you also need to start with big goals that are challenging.
You will end up accomplishing your goals, so make sure you don't sell yourself short in this area.
If you set super small goals, you'll have super small accomplishments. If you're ready to create a healthy lifestyle, set lifestyle goals. Have confidence in your abilities. Set goals that you're comfortable with... and then push yourself a little further and set goals that challenge you and make you feel slightly uncomfortable.
Once you get going, your big goals won't be scary. So set big, challenging goals and don't make exceptions.
Setting year long goals: Make exceptions
There is absolutely nothing wrong with making long term goals. Sometimes long term goals are part of having challenging goals. However, long goals and challenging goals are not the same thing. We'll get into that more in Motivation Resuscitation.
If you have a goal you want to accomplish in the next year, go for it! However, if you're going to make long term goals, you need to also make smaller "check-point goals."
Make exceptions about setting goals that are unrealistic, or don't have set time frames. Before setting long term goals, you need to know yourself. Are you the type of person who can set a year long goal, make check-point goals, a realistic plan and then accomplish each one of those goals?
Or would it be more realistic to set a long-term, 6 month goal with check-point goals and plans?
Whatever the time-frame you choose, make sure it's realistic for you. Then, set check-point goals to make your long-term, challenging goal seem attainable.
Make exceptions about setting a long-term goal based on what worked for someone else. And make exceptions about setting goals that are unrealistic -- in any way.
Hitting your "check-point goals": Celebrate!
Once you've made your big, challenging, long-term goals, you'll break those down into smaller "check-point goals."
Every single check-point goal you accomplish should be celebrated!
At times, people get so set on their long term goals, that they don't take time to celebrate their check-point goals.
For example, if your long term goal is to lose 30 pounds, your first check point goal might be to lose 5 pounds. Maybe it takes you 2 weeks to lose 5 pounds. When you look at the scale, it might tempting to be discouraged because you only lost 5 pounds.
That mindset is the reason people aren't successful.
In reality, you've hit your first check-point goal! Your goal wasn't to lose 30 pounds in 2 weeks -- it was to lose 5 pounds in 2 weeks. And you did it. Give yourself all the celebration you deserve! And keep working toward your next check-point goal.
People who quit after hitting their first check-point goal.. or people who don't make check-point goals at all.. end up being the people who fail. Realistic planning includes outlining steps that let you accomplish one thing at a time (like losing 5 pounds), and then building off of each success you've had.
Celebrate every success.
Celebrate every check-point goal you accomplish!
No exceptions with this celebrating!
Making exceptions: Make exceptions
Make exceptions about making exceptions. I told you earlier that you should have a plan. You should have a clear idea about how you are going to accomplish your goals.
I'm all about balance and believe that exceptions have to be made.
If you take only one thing away from this post, know this:
If you make exceptions every day, you're no longer making exceptions. You're creating a new rule (and a bad one at that).
A wise man once told me that there can always be exceptions to the rule -- it's when the exception becomes the rule that it's a problem.
I love to eat dark chocolate. I also love ice cream.
I might decide to limit my sweets and only eat ice cream 2 days a week (because I love ice cream and don't want to give it up.) Totally fine! My rule is limiting sweets and my exception is eating ice cream twice a week.
Now, if I decide to eat ice cream every day - or multiple times a day - and maybe not eat ice cream one or two days a week - I'm no longer making an exception. Instead, I'm throwing my "limit sweets" rule out the window and replacing it with "eat ice cream daily."
Exceptions should be rare and should NOT outnumber the rules. If you find yourself making exceptions more often than you're sticking to your rules, you need to re-evaluate.
Making progress: Celebrate!! No matter how big or small that progress is!
At the end of the day, you need to know that there will be times to make exceptions and times to celebrate. It seems to be that if we have 4 good days and 1 bad day -- we focus on the bad day. Why?
If our good days far outweigh our bad days, that is something to celebrate in and of itself!
It can be SO easy to get down on ourselves and instantly forget the progress we've made. That's exactly why it's even more important to CELEBRATE. EVERY. SINGLE. WIN.
All of your healthy changes, whether big or small, should be celebrated.
If you have one cookie instead of two, pat yourself on the back.
If you go a day without soda, recognize that it's an accomplishment.
If you cook at home one more day than you usually do, do a superwoman pose in the mirror and say "I'm awesome!" (<-- I swear I saw someone do that on a TV show. Can anybody name that show?)
If you lose 10 pounds - or 30 pounds - or 60 pounds - take time to celebrate! Shout it from the rooftops, plaster it all over your social media (if that's your thing), and revel in all the complimentary comments that roll in. Because you deserve it.
You deserve to be confident. You deserve to take back control. You deserve to love your body and love your goals and love your progress.
So embrace your healthy progress. Embrace every single healthy change you make and know that they're all adding up to the healthy lifestyle you've wanted.
If you follow these rules of exceptions and celebrations, soon enough, you'll look back and realize the long road ahead somehow ended up behind you.
Taking Action: NEVER make an exception
One last thought for you. No matter what exceptions or celebrations you might be debating, NEVER EVER STOP TAKING ACTION.
(Granted, sometimes action includes rest. That's totally ok. Our brains and bodies need rest to function.)
Never stop moving forward. No matter how big or small your action is, make sure you're always making progress.
You want a healthy lifestyle? The key is to make progress every single day, no matter how big or small that progress is. Even on the days when you feel like you're moving two steps backwards and one step forward, take that step forward! Otherwise, you'll be two steps behind instead of just one. And over time, if you make exceptions about making progress, it'll catch up to you and you might just find that you turned your exceptions into rules.
Knowing when to celebrate and when to make exceptions can definitely be difficult. Be sure to download the celebrations + exceptions list before you go.