As a holistic health coach who works with busy, powerhouse women, I come across this same challenge almost every single day: Even the most accomplished, put-together, badass boss ladies can't stick to a healthy lifestyle. They manage to finish their projects on time, motivate teams to meet targets, and convince their bosses to increase their budgets (or salaries), yet they fail themselves when it comes to self-care.
Most women know what they should be doing to keep themselves healthy and happy: eating right, hydrating, getting sufficient (and truly restorative) sleep, moving their bodies. But the majority of women fail in transitioning to a healthy lifestyle due to self-imposed mental barriers. Here are the most common ones I encounter every day and what I've learned helps to overcome them:
1. A "prioritizing others" mindset
Stop putting other people's needs above your own, including your children's. Think of your well-being like an oxygen mask on a plane—without caring for your own well-being first, you can't care for others.
You have a responsibility to care for your physical and mental well-being. It's time to understand that you are worth only the healthiest food, cold-pressed juices, personal trainer, and regular time off to perform at—and to look and feel—your best.
Train this mindset by consciously saying "no" to others and doing something that only pleases you at least once a week.
2. Misinterpreted cravings
If your body often tells you it's missing something by craving a piece of chocolate cake or a slice of pizza, make it your mission to find out what that "something" really is.
Try drinking more water, getting an extra 30 minutes of sleep per night, or giving and receiving more regular hugs. Remember, the more often you give into cravings, the harder it's going to be to get rid of them.
3. Suppressing your natural willpower
Many women prefer to suppress their natural willpower in their personal lives so as not to come off too strong, or since they believe it makes them relax better outside work.
However, research shows that disciplined (or strong-willed) people actually put themselves into fewer situations of conflict or temptation and are thus happier and healthier. If you let your self-disciplined side take over, you'll find you can become empowered by healthy habits, even if it feels like deprivation at first.
4. Avoiding commitments in your personal life
Because they feel they're on somebody else's agenda all day at work, some women tend to let things consciously slip when they're home.
But planning, preparation, and a schedule work wonders when it comes to transitioning to a healthy life. Think of yourself as the most important boss you'll ever have and the one whose agenda you actually LOVE to follow.
If this doesn't resonate with you, try jotting down how many hours of self-care you usually fit into one week without a schedule and compare this with how many hours you fit in when you actually schedule healthy activities.
5. Lack of self-belief when it comes to healthy habits
Do you nail every presentation confidently but shy away from committing to healthy eating, remembering your last "failed" attempts?
Well, it's time for some fun "letting go" exercises. I suggest making a list of your past failed attempts at being healthy and burning it! Or creating a mantra like "Past experiences don't dominate me—it's within my power to create my healthy future."
6. Misunderstanding your source of energy
Knowing whether you're an extrovert (receiving energy from being with others) or introvert (recharging best when on your own) makes a huge difference when creating healthy habits.
Extroverts feel most motivated when doing things in groups, like healthy cooking classes, team sports or meditation retreats. Introverts feel more comfortable when trying new recipes at home, running at their own pace, or reflecting on inspirational quotes.
7. Seeking novelty to escape routine
If you find it boring to do the same tasks each day at work, you might seek new, unfamiliar things in your personal life. And, vice versa, if you feel pushed into new, uncomfortable situations all the time at your job, you might appreciate nothing more than routine and familiarity at home.
However, it's important to take a mind-over-matter approach. Be sure to do whatever helps you best create healthy habits, even if it's having the same avocado eggs for breakfast each day (and you really don't mind), or taking three different classes in your gym each week (because that makes you feel more motivated).
As with so many areas in life, success at living healthily starts with self-knowledge. Making sure that WHAT you do is founded on an understanding of your unique personality.
And that HOW you "trick" yourself into nurturing healthy habits (at least until they become automatic behavior) matches up with how you feel most motivated. There are several great personality tests out there to get to know yourself better. I created a quick one to help my clients make a start at this; find it here.