The First To Go

Nikki Steinberger

September 13, 2016

 ‘I wish I had the time to workout.’

‘I wish I had the patience to meal prep.’

‘I wish I had the energy to go for a walk.’

‘I wish I felt comfortable going to the gym.’

‘I wish I had the money to pay for a trainer.’

‘I wish I had the discipline to pack my lunch.’

‘I wish I had the motivation to bike/walk to work.’

Raise your hand if you have said or thought at least one of the above statements. Okay, put your hand down… You’re probably at work and your boss is wondering what you’re doing. Anyway, there are always a million and one excuses you can tell yourself and others when it comes to taking care of number one! Some of us have side jobs, fun hobbies, families, children, pets… Some of us are afraid to just take the first step! How comfortable are you doing bicep curls next to Brently the Bodybuilder? Some of us have ‘started over’ so many times that the thought alone of starting again is exhausting!

The truth is, there is no ‘good time.’ There is no day or week or semester or season or year that your calendar is going to scream ‘I have so much free time! I CAN’T WAIT TO DO YOGA AND EAT CHIA SEED PUDDING!’ Side note: What is chia seed pudding? 

The truth is, there will always be SOMETHING – a meeting, a crying baby, soccer practice, an intramural game, a new episode of Scandal... 

The truth is, whether you are a graduate student or a seasoned professional, in this field, we often put self–care last.

The truth is, we don’t practice what we preach. I look around at my colleagues and see tired faces for much of the year. We are tired. We are drained. We are tapped out. We aren’t recharging and refueling properly, and it is taking its toll.

So what can we do? It’s easy; START SMALL! I started a wellness initiative in my office called Take Five (and I encourage any one of you to do something similar!) where I show a video, pose a health related question, debunk a nutritional myth, etc. for five minutes out of our lunch hour. THAT’S IT – FIVE MINUTES! Stop in, learn something new, and hopefully make a change! So in the spirit of Take Five, here are my top five suggestions for you to live well:

1.     Smile. – Whoa! You thought it was going to be something like drink more water (see #3) or exercise daily (see #4), but NO! When was the last time you had a good laugh? When did you genuinely smile at someone? Smile so hard that your cheeks hurt! You will not regret it.

2.     Share a goal with a friend. **purposefully worded vaguely** Pick anything! Do you want to finish a book by the end of the month/semester/year? Do you want to swap a tea for a coffee? Do you want to commit to actually leaving at 5pm at least three times a week? Do you want to learn how to paint? Learn a new language? Whatever it is, tell someone. They can check–in, ask how it’s going, offer encouragement, etc. After all, what are friends for if not to bully you into doing something (I’m joking!)?

3.     Drink water. Yepp, probably no surprise here. The recommended amount of water is 8 glasses a day, and while it may not sound like a lot, it is. Some of you may really struggle to get there, but we all start somewhere. Start tracking how much water you consume right now, and try and increase it by one glass every week! It suppresses hunger, flushes out toxins, improves your mood, helps with digestion, promotes healthy skin, and more!

4.     MOVE. – Just get up and go! Walk a lap around your building or campus during your lunchbreak instead of sitting at your desk. Spend 30 minutes in a wellness class (yoga, Pilates, spin, boot camp – choose your own adventure!). Walk a nature trail with your partner. Go to the park with your kids! Lace up the ‘ol sneakers, and give it a go. Do a little more tomorrow than you did today. Do a little more next week than you did this week. Before you know it, next year you’ll be posting your #tbt (Throwback Thursday) photos and sharing your story about how far you’ve come – don’t put it off any longer!

5.     Swap a meal. You could swap a fried meal for something grilled. You could swap a lunch out with a packed lunch. You could swap an ice cream for a frozen yogurt. You could swap regular fries for sweet potato. This is not about me (or anyone, or any website for that matter) putting restrictions on you. This is about YOU being better tomorrow than you were today, and that can happen with small changes like these! 

Normally, I would tell you to DREAM BIG or THINK BIG, but today I want you to START SMALL! Making the decision to create healthier habits for yourself does not have to be overwhelming. Correction… it should not be overwhelming. Slow and steady wins the race when it comes to being well. Why? You want to establish lifestyle changes that you can sustain long–term. You don’t want a short–term ‘detox–tea–cleanse–just–six–days–to–a–flatter–stomach–no–carb’ type of deal. You want an ‘I–feel–awesome–because–I–understand–my–body–and–how–to–fuel–and–energize–myself–daily–and–sometimes–I have–a–donut–and–that’s–okay–too’ type of deal. Got it? Good!

While you’re at it, post it on Instagram! Share it on Facebook or twitter! Why? Well for starters, if you didn’t take a selfie, did you even workout? Did you really drink that fruit smoothie? #PicsOrItDidntHappen But secondly, you can inspire someone else! I can’t tell you how infectious results are – and I don’t mean physical (although those are great too!); I mean mental. When you eat well, sleep enough, and start moving, YOU. FEEL. GREAT. and other people notice and want to look and feel like you! How awesome is that?! You get the benefit of not only improving your life, but inspiring others to live well. Heck, sign me up now! 

Contributed by Nikki Steinberger

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