Emily said, “I really like your personal mantra to never set yourself up for failure. However, I find it challenging to decide when I’m being lazy, and when I’m giving myself a break and allowing myself to just complete one small healthy goal. For example: not setting myself up to fail could be setting a goal to only eat five Hershey Kisses today instead of ten. But that’s still not very healthy! When I cut myself a break and think, “Oh, I don’t have to exercise today because I’m way too tired” – I feel that way everyday! And therefore I will never exercise. In all honesty, I hate exercising, and I hate healthy foods. How do you know when to challenge yourself and when to cut yourself a break?”


Emily’s comment really intrigued me because I actually see a lot of my old self in her question.  I really, really preferred to be horizontal and with one hand in a potato chips bag and the other wrapped around an icy, cold beer.  I would alternate between making excuses for my behavior and beating myself up for my choices.  On top of that, I had the added pleasure of occasionally tackling a crazy 180 degree turn-around with gusto (and you can guess where that usually ended up… right back where I started).  So if Emily is stuck at one end of the spectrum, I yo-yoed between two extremes. 


But eventually, I discovered that although I wasn’t born lovin’ vegetables and sweating, I could actually learn to like it… and stick with my new habits in a manageable and realistic way. 


So, the question becomes:  When you’ve got no balance in your life, how do you find your healthy and happy medium without 1) making excuses and 2) making yourself crazy?


Rule #1:  Not setting yourself up to fail isn’t about making excuses.  When I say, “Don’t set yourself up to fail,” I mean don’t expect too much or too little from yourself.  Either way, creating false expectations gets us in trouble.  If you decide to go from couch to marathon in two months, you’re probably setting yourself up for burnout.  On the other hand, if you don’t demand some sort of discipline from yourself, you’re never going to achieve anything.  If you’re working forty hours and don’t have kids, it’s pretty reasonable to expect that you can make it to the gym three days a week (I love my Blank Training Plan, by the way – I think it’s the perfect way to keep yourself on track without locking yourself into a strict schedule).  If you suffer from the ‘I Just Can’t Get Motivateds,’ you have to start by demanding a little bit more of yourself.  Set the bar a bit higher.


Rule #2: Stop thinking of healthy living as optional.  Because we have a choice in the matter, I think we often feel that being healthy is an option.  It’s really not an option.  It’s kind of like brushing your teeth.  Yeah, you could not do it, but your teeth would rot and fall out.  Same thing with healthy living.  Sure, you could never exercise and eat junk food all the time, but over time, you would probably suffer from a myriad of lifestyle-induce diseases as a result.  Look, I’m not going to lie. Creating lifestyle changes is hard, especially at first.  Like any change, you have create the routine and habit. So once you have a reasonable expectation of yourself, make yourself stick with the changes for at least six weeks.  Tell yourself it’s not optional.  Even if you have to choke down those five servings of fruit and veggies.  Just do it.  (Again, I really love blank training plans/star charts for things like this – it helps you stay on track.)  I promise it will get easier over time. Eventually, it will become part of your everyday routine that you do because you know it’s good for you – just like brushing your teeth.


Rule #3: It’s okay to make excuses… every now and then.  Tough love time:  If you find yourself faltering on your new expectations every day (or every other day), it’s not a legit excuse.  You’re just bailing.  I’m all about moderation (that is healthy, after all!), but I think everyone needs to determine what their own line is.  For me, it’s okay to cut myself slack on healthy eating and exercise when:  I’m sick/injured, I had a really crappy emotional day, or I’m really tired.  Especially in terms of exercise, if it’s going to take away from my energy level instead of adding to it, I skip the workout.  It’s also okay to bench myself about once a week because of pure and utter laziness. But before I decide to be lazy, I look forward to the rest of the week, consider that I aim for three workouts a week, and determine if I really want to use my lazy day today.  If it’s Wednesday, and I’m tempted to lay on the couch, but I know Thursday and Friday are going to be rammed, I’ll usually work out because I’d rather use my lazy day at the end of the week. 


Rule #4: Really recognize how making the healthier (or unhealthier) choice really makes you feel.  My biggest trouble spot was definitely unhealthy eating, especially stress eating. I could easily put away half a sleeve of Oreos after a bad day at work.  One day, a friend asked me, “How does it make you feel to stress eat all those cookies?”  And I realized… it made me physically (and emotionally) feel like crap.  I really began to focus on the physical impact of my healthy and unhealthy choices.  When I eat a lot of sugar, I get a freaking headache!  It’s not enough that the cookies taste good going down; the consequences are too big.  When I feel lazy but I get up and go for a long walk away, I feel awesome, awakened, and happy. I really believe it’s important to simply identify the way choices make you feel (guilt tripping not necessary, just identify the physical and emotional response).  Then, when you are tempted to overeat Hershey’s Kisses or whatnot, ask yourself, “Based on my previous experiences, how is this going to make my body feel?”  Sometimes it’s worth the sugar headache – but usually, it’s not.


Rule #5: First, tackle something ‘easy’ for you.  You probably know your ‘trouble spot.’  If are like Emily and think, “I hate exercising, and I hate healthy foods,” decide which one you hate the least, and start off by making a small, manageable change.  I think the confidence and conviction to change other areas of your life starts by successfully changing just one small thing.  Don’t feel like you have to change everything at once.  Just do one small thing and stick with it.  Build flexibility into your change, but decide your terms, and make yourself stick with it long enough to create that habit.


Rule #6:  Don’t get hung up on your old definition of yourself.  Five years ago, I had myself convinced that I was inactive, not athletic, and would never, ever be able to stick to a healthier eating style. I didn’t think I could change because I was the way I was. But no one is stuck!  We often tell ourselves stories of how we are or who we can become, but this is certainly not written in stone. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you’re only a certain kind of person – you can be any type of person you want to be… even a person who sort of likes healthy eating and exercise.  I swear!


What’s your advice to Emily?  Can you relate to her situation?



  • Kim @ Wonderings January 26, 2012, 7:44 pm

    This is exactly what I needed to read! I have spent 2 nights being lazy and it’s time to get moving. Thanks for the inspiration!

  • HTPDad January 26, 2012, 7:44 pm


  • HTPDad January 26, 2012, 7:44 pm


    • CaitlinHTP January 26, 2012, 7:46 pm

      oh dad you make me lol

      • Michele January 27, 2012, 5:53 pm

        He is quite entertaining eh?

  • LizW January 26, 2012, 7:46 pm

    Excellent post!

    I love the part about brushing your teeth.

    I’m passing this along to some family members who could use some encouragement 🙂

  • Sarah January 26, 2012, 7:47 pm

    I’d add that she should fake it until she makes it.

    If she’s always saying to herself “I hate xyz” then it’s going to be that much harder to convince herself the change is possible.

    She should find something that she does like about healthy living (even if it’s small at first) and focus on that. Positive positive positive!

  • Heather January 26, 2012, 7:49 pm

    I think it’s ALL about baby steps. I started out with ONE workout a week for ten minutes. Nothing big, just ten minutes of intentional non-routine exercise. It wasn’t long before I was doing it 5-6 days a week for 30min or more. I did the same thing with food, and not at the same time. I started with just writing down everything I was eating, and then tried to incorporate ONE fruit or veggie a week, and then to replace one meal with something healthier every day… etc…

    • CaitlinHTP January 26, 2012, 7:50 pm

      Great advice and so awesome to hear how it worked for you!!! Baby steps.

  • elizabeth | notes, quotes & anecdotes January 26, 2012, 7:51 pm

    oh gosh, caitlin, i just loved this post. i’ve bookmarked it, starred it and burned it to memory for those days that i feel like i’ve lost my get-up-and-go. i love how realistic you are about the approach and it’s true that change doesn’t happen overnight, but we can always make small choices that propel us toward our goals every day. thank you for posting!

    • CaitlinHTP January 26, 2012, 7:51 pm

      aw thank you so much! i appreciate it.

  • Sarah January 26, 2012, 7:57 pm

    My advice would be to do exercise that doesn’t feel like exercise. A walk with a friend, hiking, riding a bike, hula hooping and the like doesn’t feel like the boring gym routine but can be the “gateway drug” to exercise 🙂

  • Lauren January 26, 2012, 7:58 pm

    my favorite post from you, ever. it’s real, it’s honest, it’s uplifting without being too…. sunny. ya know? since i started reading your blog, i definitely have noticed a change in my habits. to the girl who wrote you the email that prompted this post, i know exactly where she’s at right now. but like you said in the post, it DOES get easier. you realize you’ve reached that point where healthy living is not a chore but is really a lifestyle when you don’t have to actively think about the choices you’re making – – you just make them. for example, you aren’t tempted by the “bad” choices of your past like, say, ordering a buffalo chicken wrap with crispy tenders and a gallon of blue cheese every time you to to lunch; you naturally start to gravitate towards healthier options. it’s so fun to reach that moment. keep. on. going!


    • CaitlinHTP January 27, 2012, 8:11 pm

      Thank you Lauren!

  • kathleen @ the daily crumb January 26, 2012, 8:01 pm

    such great tips. i would say start little, everything adds up. no need to change your life in one day — baby steps! and yes, cut yourself some slack.

  • Susan January 26, 2012, 8:01 pm

    Awesome post. I think the tough love part is key here. We do not have a choice in the matter. You don’t get to be unhealthy and pretend that it’s ok. Reward yourself for working out with treats other than food- going to the cinema, buying a new pair of shoes etc.

    • Amber @ Busy, Bold, Blessed January 27, 2012, 8:28 am

      This part of the post definitely stuck out for me. Sometimes it’s hard to realize how your unhealthy living is impacting you because it may not be significant right now, but in 30 years it sure will be! I’m trying to make healthy living a nonnegotiable!

      I made working out mandatory when I signed up for my half marathon. I was working out 1 or 2 times a week and suddenly I have time for 3 consistent runs and even add extra work in. It’s not optional anymore because I know I’m only screwing myself if I don’t run!

  • Faith @ For the Health of it January 26, 2012, 8:01 pm

    In all honesty, I think it’s all about finding the *right* exercise and the *right* healthy foods. If I were to say that since I despise the stairmaster and lunges are the devil, I hate exercising, I wouldn’t be giving myself the full chance to experience the exercise I do like, such as yoga and running. If I said I hate brussels sprouts, that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy little, healthy substitutions like Greek yogurt instead of plain or carrots + hummus instead of fried chips. Slowly, each little step towards health becomes engrained into you (just like your teeth-brushing example) and you’re able to move just a little further into the lifestyle!

    • Becca January 27, 2012, 7:47 am

      This is exactly what I was going to comment. I used to think I hated exercise since I only tried running. But then I got fed up with being unhappy with my body and life and I just started trying ANYTHING that could be considered exercise. I realized I love spinning and I actually really like interval running. You just gotta find what works.

      Also, I love the brush your teeth analogy. Should you brush your teeth every single morning and night? Yes, of course. If you miss one day are your teeth going to fall out? No. If you miss a month is that really bad for your teeth? Yes! Healthy eating and exercise is just about consistency, it’s not about perfection.

  • Kristen@Change of Pace January 26, 2012, 8:11 pm

    About 2 years ago I started running and I was up to running 5 miles at a time. I never had that “i love to run” attitude. I did it to lose weight. Recently I had my second baby and I kept putting off exercise because I felt like I had to run. Deep down I hated it. When I finally told myself “hey you don’t have to run” I did a total 180. I go to body pump classes, work out with a personal, trainer, and walk fast on high inclines. Guess what I don’t do. RUN.

  • Stephanie C January 26, 2012, 8:31 pm

    I can definitely relate to this! But in a slightly different way… I ran for a while until I got a sinus infection that lasted three months – that killed my routine and I fell back into the “I’m tired” routine.
    I’m getting better but still don’t push myself like I could… things come up in life and I tell myself “Oh well I have to do this now and I don’t have time.. oh well.”
    Also… For about 1.5 yrs, while in grad school, I would tell myself I would “too tired…” too tired to get out and exercise or too tired to errands I needed to do. Now I’ve got an internship and feel like I really know the meaning of “too tired.” And it makes me want to get out there more… I am actually getting more done now even though I have less time to do so. It’s amazing.
    Wanted to also mention that I’m going to try the laying out my clothes trick to see if it helps me get my butt in gear and back into running. Hope my comment was coherent 😉

    • Stephanie C January 26, 2012, 8:35 pm

      Oh… one last comment re: food. I grew up eating canned or steamed veggies. I thought I hated them. Then I ate at my then-boyfriend’s house (now husband). They sauteed their asparagus (something I never had – I thought I couldn’t eat the tips and left them!!) and other veggies and I slowly learned to love them.
      Now I am a (mostly) vegetarian and I LOVE greens and veggies. I think it’s all about finding a way to prepare them that you like. Take Kale for instance – roasting them in the oven, putting it in some soup, or eating it raw with olive oil and lemon juice. There are so many ways to prepare them and I think that is something she should look into – I use foodgawker and tastespotting to search for new ideas.

      • Ashley @ This Is The Place January 27, 2012, 8:10 am

        This is awesome. My husband grew up the same way – almost no veggies/fruits and thought he didn’t like them. Turns out he just didn’t like them they way they were prepared in the 80’s! He hates Red Delicious apples but loves honeycrips, fujis and gala. He thought spaghetti squash was weird until I roasted it and smothered it in homemade marinara. A lot can change with preparation.

  • Lori Lynn January 26, 2012, 8:35 pm

    I LOVE these! I eat a lot of fruits and veggies, and I exercise, but I struggle with emotional eating. When I eat healthy and exercise, I know that it does make me feel better, but I don’t always make the best choices that I should. I need to keep these in mind!

    • Jill February 2, 2012, 2:06 pm

      I’m the same way, Lori Lynn. I’ve come so far in terms of eating healthy foods and exercising (I even ran a marathon, when two years ago I couldn’t imagine myself running a mile), but I am definitely both an emotional eater and a bored eater. It doesn’t help that I work from home and have a sweet tooth; I end up just snacking all day, regardless of whether or not I’m hungry. I feel like a zombie–half the time I don’t even realize I’m doing it. I pay for it a little less now that I’m active, but it still feels like self-sabotage, and it’s frustrating that it’s such a tough habit to break!

  • JenRD January 26, 2012, 8:38 pm

    Great tips, thanks!

  • Becca January 26, 2012, 8:42 pm

    I love this notion that no one is ever “stuck.” I constantly try to remind myself and my loved ones that you can always make a change in your life- professionally, physically, emotionally, whatever. For some reason we tend to forget that we had the power/made the decisions to get to where we are, so we must have the power to change that. Thanks for the reminder of that today. I must admit I had forgotten this myself lately!

  • Christy January 26, 2012, 8:42 pm

    I love #4, which worked for me. If I eat peanut butter and chocolate I feel so depressed afterwards. It really puts me in a funk! Then I realize it didn’t make me feel better like I wanted it to. I feel guilty for eating it. It’s a horrible cycle. So I have to start thinking about the end result BEFORE I decide to eat something. I have done it in the past and it really works wonders! If you can’t remember, write it down!

  • Libby @ PracticallyPatientlyParenting January 26, 2012, 8:42 pm

    I can definitely relate to the idea of something junky tasting good but not being worth the consequences. I think my way through caving to a serious sweet-tooth that way all the time.

    Also, back in college I was a total junk-food-eating-I-can-worry-about-this-later-because-I-deserve-it-now-and-this-stress-is-killing-me binger. Now when I feel the urge to mindless stress’n’snack, I carefully think through whether or not it’ll really make me feel any better… and really it would usually make me feel way worse.

    In both cases, I think that mindful eating is key.

    I just wanted to give both of these things that you mentioned a hearty second!

  • Amanda January 26, 2012, 8:52 pm

    This is an awesome post. I think for me, one of the biggest components is finding exercise that I like. For years I was intimidated to take group fitness classes at my gym, and then last year I said screw it and tried a bunch of classes. Some were better than others, but I eventually found a handful that I actually look forward to every week. And now, I almost never workout solo. I love the energy of the classes.

    As far as eating, I think what you said about considering how a given food will make you feel after you eat it is key. I personally love “healthy” food, but I also have an intense sweet tooth. But honestly, sweets taste so much better when I’m eating them in moderation. I think a lot of it is re-training your taste buds to pick up on the sweetness of a sweet potato, for example, instead of an oreo. 🙂

  • Trina January 26, 2012, 8:56 pm

    I love this! Especially the part about exercise not being optional. As cheesy as it sounds, just do it! And not in some uber competitive Nike kind of way, but because if you don’t do it nothing will change.
    I would also add that starting is the toughest part. When I don’t want to go to the gym I make myself go but give myself permission to stop after 20 minutes. Ninety percent of the time once I get there I end up doing way more (because hey, I’m already there and have already done 20 minutes, what’s 15 more?) And even if I do stop, 20 minutes is better than nothing!

  • judi January 26, 2012, 9:00 pm

    I read your blog every day. I love it. LOVE it. This post, is by far the most inspirational, real thing I have ever read. Using “brushing your teeth” as an example is just brilliant.
    I am one of those freaks that LOVES healthy food. I love veggies and have never really had an issue in that category, but getting off the couch to get moving was always an issue for me. UNTIL i understood that it MUST become a habit. It must be something that if you “miss it” you actually miss it. Just like… brushing your teeth!!! Oh you are just SO smart!
    Anywho….thank you for being part of my day, I look forward to reading about you and hearing your advice and goals!
    Hope you feel better tomorrow!!

    • CaitlinHTP January 27, 2012, 8:09 pm

      Thank you so much Judi.

  • TeenyLittleSuperChef January 26, 2012, 9:04 pm

    Wow, these are great tips for anyone, not just Emily. I like how you said to not make living healthy as something that is optional. I think by telling yourself that this is the way you have to live, no ifs ands or buts about it, then there’s no way to come up with excuses. You either have to live this way or your on your way to an early grave. I know that sounds dramatic, but I wish doctors would tell more of their patients this because it really is true. Thanks for helping her and the rest of us out there with some great advice.

  • Samantha @ Health, Happiness & Skinny Jeans January 26, 2012, 9:06 pm

    This is one of my favorite posts of yours! The only thing I would change is the term “legit excuse”. I think the word excuse has such negative connotations so I like to differentiate between excuse and explanation. Sometimes legitimate things get in the way of our healthy living plans but that’s an explanation for temporarily deviating from the routine. I think if we can take away the negative association it makes it easier to avoid the guilt that can cause that one thing to spiral into days and days of poor choices.

  • Sarena (The Non Dairy Queen) January 26, 2012, 9:09 pm

    I feel like a healthy lifestyle should feel fun and rewarding. It shouldn’t be a pain. I think we start to enjoy things that are repetitive and comfortable. If that is laying on the couch eating chips and drinking beer then that’s what will feel rewarding. If it’s walking outside with a friend or running 2 miles and eating fresh fruits and vegetables then that’s what we will crave. I talked with my son about willpower today too. I get up every weekday morning at 6am to workout. This is a nonnegotiable for me. However, it starts me off with an accomplishment for the day! Getting active and eating well has to be repeated to be a habit. You have to put it on your schedule and actually do it. It’s not easy, but it’s important to me so I do it.

  • Cammy @ LazyHealthy.com January 26, 2012, 9:23 pm

    I love rule number six. Just because you were the slowest kid running the mile in gym class doesn’t mean you won’t become an endurance athlete later in life. My experience with these bullet points are kind of what I’ve been trying to write about in my blog.

  • Emily January 26, 2012, 9:34 pm

    Wow! This is so overwhelming, I kept checking back to that comment to see if anyone had responded, only to see this entire page of response! Thanks for seeing my cry for help and answering it Caitlin. This blog has been a very real source of inspiration for me over the last several months. Some people read a daily newspaper – but I read daily blogs, and this one happens to be at the top of my blogroll. Ladies, amiright?

    On a serious note, though, I DO use the weekly training plan because I’m a type of person who has to see that all of my tiny efforts are adding up.

    I admit to writing that comment in a moment of frustration, because I actually have been working towards my goals, as you can see in the progress above. My eating habits have gotten better as well, but like some of the other women commented, emotional eating can be an issue. I think I beat myself up in these moments because I tend towards perfectionism – if I am not meeting my goals and staying away from junk food of any kind – I’m completely failing and might as well be, as Caitlin said, horizontal with my potato chips and beer. I know I shouldn’t be so extreme, so perhaps my true battle lies in moderation, as I’m sure is the case with many people.

    I’ve been working with the couch to 5k plan and do find myself occasionally looking forward to the daily running which I never thought I would. Coincidence that this happens to also be the only half hour I spend in front of the TV? Maybe. What I really love to do is dance – when I could afford a gym, Zumba kept me in serious shape. Right now I’m going through some major life changes: I just graduated college and moved back in with my parents and hold a series of part time jobs, one of which is substitute teaching and literally puts me in a brand new place surrounded by brand new people every single day. Stability does not exist in my life right now, which maybe the reason for the emotional eating/outbursts. I’m trying to make the exercise a constant that I can depend on, because everything else is just so nuts right now! And after I get a few decent paychecks, you can bet I will be get that gym membership back and be doing all kinds of Zumba and yoga – exercise I DON’T hate!

    Thanks again, Caitlin. One reason I find you so inspiring is because I feel like I am in a place where you used to be (the college binge eating/drinking) and that if I make the conscious decision to be healthy, little by little, I can get to a healthy spot like you are now. Will I be running marathons? Maybe not, but I will eventually embody my own definition of health. 🙂

    • Emily January 26, 2012, 9:59 pm

      Ack! I meant to post a link to a photo of my own training chart in the above post: http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v12/e_moli/DSC_0001.jpg

    • Amy January 26, 2012, 11:20 pm

      Emily, I am also an unflinching perfectionist, and my “all or nothing” attitude thwarted every single one of my attempts at healthy eating/exercise habits for YEARS. The moment I finally let go of the “I must be perfect, or I might as well be a total failure” attitude, it quite honestly changed my life. Now, one “off” day of eating or exercise is just that—one day. Not an entire week of punishing myself. (And the same applies in many other areas of my life, like grad school!) Anyway, my point is that I can SO sympathize with how challenging perfectionism can be, but I truly believe you can overcome. I’m wishing you all the best in your journey!

      • Emily January 27, 2012, 7:28 am

        Thank you, Amy! I need to actively work on mastering that as well. 🙂

  • Amy January 26, 2012, 9:42 pm

    What a great post! The only thing I would add to Emily is that it can really help to set a schedule for yourself (like your example of 3 workouts per week) for x number of weeks, and then decide on a reward at the end of that time. I did that, and by the time I had rewarded myself a few times, working out was just a part of my usual daily schedule. It helped so much to keep me motivated!

    I also really love how you included the idea of not expecting too LITTLE from yourself. Harder to hear, but so, so important.

  • Katie @ Peace Love & Oats January 26, 2012, 9:43 pm

    I love this post! I think the key for me is reminding myself: how does this make you feel? My body is actually intolerant to white sugar and i feel awful after eating any. Over break I said screw it and had some candies I picked out from a candy store. I felt awful the whole rest of the day, it was NOT worth it!

  • Dana January 26, 2012, 9:55 pm

    Great post! I agree with all of your tips. I, too, used to be a yo-yoer and went in waves of being “healthy” (aka eating too little and working out too hard) and then feeling defeated and doing nothing at all.

    Even now, as a “healthy” person (for the most part), I still have days where I’d rather skip a workout and eat ice cream and chocolate all day.

    I am a big fan of the “fake it till you make it” mentality when getting started with something. If you want to be a healthy eater, then say you are one… its amazing what some positive thinking will do to your mentality and mood! When I started to call myself and see myself as a “healthy person” and a “runner,” my whole mentality towards the lifestyle changed. It became a part of me vs. something I had to do…

  • Ali January 26, 2012, 10:29 pm

    I agree with the other posters about baby steps. I have been overweight since kindergarten and was always trying to change my whole life in one day. All it did was set me up for burnout and unhealthier living! I’ve been there and done that more times than I can count. I finally started changing one small thing every two weeks. Two years later, I’ve lost 80 lbs, work out 4-6 days a week, and eat whole foods. Oh yeah, and I LOVE it!

    If I didn’t want to work out, I’d do a short workout video (like Jillian’s 30-day Shred) or tell myself that I just have to do 10 minutes (it is only 0.7% of my entire day afterall!). If I wanted to stop after 10 mins, I could. Most of the time I don’t. If I do, I’m likely overtaxing my body that week either emotionally or physically and need a break and I give it to myself without the guilt trip.

    You can try one new healthy recipe each week. Or a new sport (or an old one that you used to love). It’s all about decisions and slowing down to take the time to consider the (positive or negative) consequences of the action you are about to do. It takes time to get there and you will make mistakes and that’s totally okay!

  • Chelsea January 26, 2012, 10:49 pm

    Wow great post! I could definitely relate to Emily at one point. I was just plain lazy and didn’t know HOW to make healthy food yummy rather than assumed it was all yucky. It’s like a little kid you say, “It’s good for you!” and they automatically don’t want it. You just to trick your mind in the beginning 😉 I definitely don’t brush my teeth as much as I exercise though…That would probably save me tons on dental if I brushed WHILE working out!

  • Keri January 26, 2012, 10:50 pm

    I am so inspired by advice #2: Stop thinking of healthy living as optional. It’s so true. I read this article once about how people were adamantly denouncing feeding the Yellowstone bears standard picnic fare. “Don’t feed the bear’s marshmallows! They’ll suffer for it soon after!” Yet, we don’t advocate for ourselves similar standards. Marshmallows—sure! Hot dogs–yes please. We definitely need to heed to your advice. Healthy living is not optional! We deserve to treat ourselves with the respect and care that we give to others.

    Thanks for sharing. Such a good reminder and affirmation to adhere to.

    • Amanda January 27, 2012, 9:31 am

      I agree 100% with this. Reading that rule was an epiphany for me. It’s not an option; it’s my life.

  • Alex @ Raw Recovery January 26, 2012, 11:26 pm

    You really offer some sage and reasonable advice here. I especially like the idea of not making healthy living optional. I agree, it really isn’t optional. I think it’d be great if one day what is now seen as healthy living was the norm.

  • AmandaRunsNY January 26, 2012, 11:45 pm

    omg, check out this video. It’s a total tri-nerd video but I thought you’d enjoy it. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1KTEgLKhjIw&sns=fb

    For Ms Emily, I think the biggest change in my life was when I stopped seeing healthy in black and white. It’s better that I live my life with a little bit of dessert and healthy food, than all healthy food all the time.

    • CaitlinHTP January 27, 2012, 8:07 pm

      Hahah “I peaked too early.”

  • Khushboo January 26, 2012, 11:48 pm

    Great post -I would say take baby steps…you can’t change your lifestyle overnight but it’s amazing how quickly the small changes add up to something great!

  • Jen January 27, 2012, 1:52 am

    This is truly inspirational…I am bookmarking it for times when I need a good dose of motivation/kick in the butt! :). Thanks, Caitlin!

    Also, best wishes to Emily!!!

    • CaitlinHTP January 27, 2012, 8:07 pm

      Thanks for reading Jen!

  • Rachel January 27, 2012, 4:32 am

    I loved the healthy living – brushing your teeth analogy! Great way to think of it.

  • Sarah January 27, 2012, 5:30 am

    Great post! Thanks for just what I needed 🙂

  • Brittnie (A Joy Renewed) January 27, 2012, 6:02 am

    This is a great post, Caitlin! So much good information and advice here for your readers. I think rule #4 is especially important. LIke you said, not meant to be a guilt trip, just an honest assessment of how an unhealthy/healthy choice makes you feel after the fact. In my opinion, without completing this assessment, a lasting change is going to be really hard!

  • Chelsea @ One Healthy Munchkin January 27, 2012, 7:39 am

    Love this! I think your best tip is the last one! When I was struggling to get started with adopting a healthy lifestyle, I really let my definition of myself hold me back. I was always that chubby kid who couldn’t even run a half a mile in gym class – so how could I ever turn into someone who’s healthy and active? I struggled with that all throughout high school until I reached university and learned that it’s OK to change your definition of yourself! 😀

  • Ashley @ This Is The Place January 27, 2012, 7:48 am

    My advice would be to set positive goals, rather than negative ones. Saying ‘I won’t do eat Hershey kisses anymore’ is negative. Saying (as you do) ‘I will achieve 3 workouts per week’ is a positive step forward, that you can achieve. Emily should make two positive goals – i.e. 3 x 30min of some sort of exercise/week and a positive nutrition goal, such as 70oz water daily, or x servings of veggies. Positively incorporating good changes will be better and set her up for success! And as she achieves the smaller goals, she’ll be motivated to set bigger ones!

  • Lindsay January 27, 2012, 8:15 am

    When I was trying to get on the healthy bandwagon, I started with baby steps and found it really worked for me. Each small accomplishment made the next step easier to handle. If I focused on one small change instead of the big picture, I was less overwhelmed and found my goals to be more manageable. For example, I tried to run a mile and when I couldn’t run it any more I walked. I kept at it until I could run a mile. The following year, I ran a 5 mile race. That was 5 years ago. This past December, I ran my first marathon. And this is coming from a girl who was convinced that she WAS not athletic.

    • CaitlinHTP January 27, 2012, 8:02 pm

      Congrats on your marathon!!!!

  • Katie January 27, 2012, 8:16 am

    This is an excellent post, lady! I would say as far as hating veggies goes, that it is amazing how much your taste buds can evolve. I grew up eating nothing but refined, processed carbs all the way through high school and my first couple years of college. It wasn’t until I was 20 that I began slowly trying to find fruits and vegetables that I liked . There are so many ways to prepare healthy foods so that a less-healthy palate will find them appetizing, and as time goes by you’ll find yourself liking more and more healthy things, and craving junk food less and less. Good luck, Emily!

  • shelly January 27, 2012, 8:17 am

    Great post! I think that for me, one key to knowing when to not to slack off is knowing that my goals are reasonable. I’m likely not going to overtrain when I’m working out 4 hours a week. What I am going to do is stay in baseline good shape and feel happier and more energetic throughout my days. When I really want to slack off, one thing I do is give myself permission to take the workout down a notch rather than skip it entirely. If I have a big weights session planned and I’m just not up for it, I still go to the gym, I just may hop on the elliptical and watch reality tv instead. At least it reinforces my gym habit.
    Another way I make sure I work out is that I convinced myself that exercise is how I handle stress. I literally thought to myself before every workout “I’m going to feel so much better and less stressed after this.” It’s totally true, but making that connection beforehand totally helped me make it my go to stress defense!
    As for veggies, you really just have to stick with it for a month or two and wait for your tastebuds to change. They really do though! In the meantime try going to a farmer’s market if there is one in your area and try a new veggie each week. Ask the farmer’s how to cook it. I find I get really excited about my veggies when I do this- and farmer’s markets are very affordable!
    In terms of sweets, I’d really suggest small quantities of rich tasting treats rather than large quantities of mild tasting ones- dark chocolate vs. hershey’s kisses, for example. The quality stuff is much more satisfying and you don’t want or need as much of it. Plus, dark chocolate is good for you!

  • Hillary January 27, 2012, 8:23 am

    I agree with the advice to just do it and stick with it until it becomes a habit. It took me a few months to get used to healthier foods and exercise as a daily activity, but now I don’t even think twice about them. Going to the gym is never a hassle for me—it’s literally a habit. It’s as much a part of my day as brushing my teeth; I just DO it. It takes a little bit of time, but it’s definitely worth it!

  • Greta @ Staying Lost January 27, 2012, 8:27 am

    I think all of your advice is really good. The one thing that I think should be added is that it’s pretty unlikely that the reader actually hates -all- exercise and -all- nutritious food. It’s important to experiment with both diet and exercise to find something that is enjoyable for you, at least most of the time.

  • Charise January 27, 2012, 8:48 am

    I love these! very motivational in a realistic way.

    #3 and #4 are big ones for me. I usually try to plan out the 4 days I’ll work out each week. But if I am lucky enough to have a not-busy week, like this one, it was great when I was exhausted on Monday and realized I had plenty of open days to make up the scheduled workout and went home to rest instead without feeling guilty.

    I have blood sugar issues, and love greasy bar apps. So I always think to myself “is this really worth how I’ll feel in 20 min?” It is often no, but sometimes, it is, and if I’ve made an mindful choice, I’m good with it. It works with the should-I-skip-a-workout too – will I be restless, bloated feeling, tired if I am lazy instead, or will I fill more well-rested and ready for the gym tomorrow?

  • Sara January 27, 2012, 8:49 am

    Great advice! I ate like crap in college and how I eat now makes me feel so much better. If I feel better–I will stick to those healthy changes. I think Emily will like how she feels being more active and eating a little better. At least it worked for me!

  • Meredith January 27, 2012, 8:56 am

    I love the second point about how we should stop thinking healthy living is optional. That’s so true! I always keep in mind that the 30 minutes of moderate exercise a day is necessary for heart health alone. It’s not training for a race, not being a gym rat, it’s simply something our bodies NEED in order to function properly, and thus, it is non-negotiable!

  • Laura January 27, 2012, 8:58 am

    Great post, Caitlin! I’ve always been a pretty healthy eater and have been active (I was a ballet dancer from childhood all through college), but in my post college days I definitely picked up some bad habits like drinking soda everyday, etc. (there are more things… this is just an example). To kick my soda habit, I bought a reusable water bottle and some lemonade powder and drank lemonade instead. Over time I’d use less and less lemonade powder and now I pretty much only drink water. For me, it was easier to transition out of a bad habit rather than doing it “cold turkey.”

    Also, I recently found this quote and think it’s so true:

    “The food you eat can be either the safest and most powerful form of medicine, or the slowest form of poison.”

    • CaitlinHTP January 27, 2012, 8:02 pm

      I like that quote!!!

  • Annette @ EnjoyYourHealthyLife January 27, 2012, 8:59 am

    Great tips! I love recognizing how happy and fulfilled I feel when I make healthy living a priority–it changes me from the inside out and I love it 🙂

  • Nicole January 27, 2012, 9:07 am

    I’ve been reading your blog for a while now, but this is the first time I’ve commented. First of all, I just wanted to say thank you for blogging and thank you for always being so authentic. It’s weird, but I feel like I know you through your posts. I see a new one and it’s like, “Oh, let’s see what Caitlin is up to!” Stalkerish? I hope not, lol!

    Anyway, I *LOVE* this post. Several months ago I was running three times a week and going to yoga once a week, but I have completely fallen off the wagon for the past month. I’ve been feeling frustrated at having life feel so routine and I guess I thought by not having the routine of exercising everyday and being able to do whatever I want instead that it would make things feel more exciting. Well guess what–the COUCH just became the new routine and that’s no fun either. I’m going to use your blank training plan idea to change that. I think knowing I can do anything that day, as long as I do something, will make it feel fun–tennis? running? yoga? walking? The possibilities and fun are endless!

    • CaitlinHTP January 27, 2012, 8:01 pm

      Thank you so much for reading, Nicole. I really appreciate the nice things you said.

  • Jodi @ Jodeexi Writes January 27, 2012, 9:09 am

    This is fantastic advice! I really loved #2, 5 & 6. It took small steps, abandoning all my preconceived notions about what I could and couldn’t do and letting go of fear to start being healthy. Then once I started, I realized there was no alternative. It was either do it or be unhappy. You’re absolutely right, the ONLY option is healthy living. Definitely one of my favorite posts and one I’ll be bookmarking to come back to often!!

  • Jessica January 27, 2012, 9:23 am

    I just have to say, I love this post!! I’m seriously thinking about printing this out and sticking it somewhere I can read it often. Chock full o’ tips for anyone either just starting, or re-starting a healthy lifestyle (like me). I especially love #6 and how it can apply to any area of your life- something I needed to hear! Thank you!

    • CaitlinHTP January 27, 2012, 8:00 pm

      Thanks for reading Jessica!

  • Rebecca January 27, 2012, 9:38 am

    This is an interesting topic, and I have a kind of follow-up question, I guess.

    Lately I’ve really become aware that healthy living blogs have influenced me–and perhaps not for the better. See, I genuinely like eating healthy food. I think a lot of it is yummy, and I can feel a difference in my body, mood, etc. when I don’t go crazy with junk. So, I know what it’s like to enjoy healthy decisions.

    But I hate exercise. I don’t get the same feeling at all. I feel happier and more content spending the afternoon with a book than I do hitting the gym. I feel more balanced. This is not to say I want to stay on the couch forever–I do enjoy taking walks and yoga. But I have been doing pretty intense exercise nearly every day for a few years, and I don’t enjoy it at all. It tires me out.

    Why have I been doing it? Part of it is the whole body image/guilt thing that comes from society. But healthy living blogs have also normalized this level of exercise for me. I don’t really know anyone in real life who works out at the frequency (every day) of many HLBs, but since I have seen all of them doing it, it added to the pressure to do it (for me).

    This isn’t really directed at you, because I’ve noticed you’ve really cut back on the number and intensity of your workouts. I just wonder your take on when you REALLY don’t like an aspect of healthy living and the only possible “achievements” you are aiming for aren’t really all that healthy (being skinny, for example). I also wonder if you think overexercising is rampant in the HLB world.

    • Jen January 27, 2012, 10:38 am

      I think it’s entirely possible to live well without really intense exercise; I run, but I’ll never be a marathoner, I have no desire to do “boot camps” or anything Jillian Michaels-related, and that’s perfectly fine. What’s most important is that you listen to your body and do what makes you feel your best. Exercise shouldn’t be a chore or a form of punishment, but something that helps you feel well; and what makes you feel well is different for everyone.

    • Emily January 27, 2012, 4:55 pm

      I agree – the comment I left makes me sound completely obese and inactive…but I’m not. I’m actually at a healthy weight, and one reason I posted the comment was out of frustration of all the HLB I see, in addition to my parents being on a pretty intense diet currently (I just moved back in with them temporarily). The perfectionism I strive for is impossible, therefore I feel like I fail when I skip a workout or eat a treat. And my goal totally isn’t geared toward being healthy, it’s geared towards being skinny. I totally get what you’re saying. Again – not at all directed at Caitlin, I think she gives an example of moderation (it is so awesome when she post photos of herself eating ice cream – showing the balance of being a marathon athlete and still enjoying a treat every once and a while).

    • CaitlinHTP January 27, 2012, 8:00 pm

      Hey Rebecca!

      With few exceptions (and I wouldn’t call them out publicly), I do not think people in the HLB overexercise, but many do keep up intense exercise schedules (these people also usually do not have kids or are still in college, just an observation, so they have more free time). Lots of HLBers are into races or triathlons, which require a different type of commitment than say, just going to the gym. I think bloggers also go through cycles (well, the ones I read do). They have an on season and and off season. Spring/summer is intense training time, they kind of pull back during the winter (this is normal for racers). I definitely have cut back, and it’s directly related to pregnancy. I had no desire to be one of those intense pregnant exercisers. (nor could’ve i have been!) I do have to say that there are SOOOO many blogs out there and not everyone is into racing or crossfit or whatnot. if the blogs you are reading just aren’t working for you, there are LOTS of hlb that promote being active without being ‘intense.’ click around in the comments section of blogs you currently read and you will find lots of fun alternative!

  • Maggie January 27, 2012, 9:46 am

    I really, really love this post, Caitlin!

    My 2 cents: I think the most important thing is having a plan. I have the next month of workouts (I take kickboxing classes) planned in my calendar so I know that I will get 4 workouts in each week. And if someone asks me if I want to do something on a night where I have a workout planned I tell them yes, but it has to be after kickboxing. Or, if I have another night free, I change out the workout for that night. This way I know I’m going to get them done and on days when I don’t work out I know that it’s part of the plan (before I did this I used to obsess about whether I should rest or if I was just being lazy and it resulted in a lot of guilt and a lot of wasted, not fully engaged workouts).

    Also, and I know this probably isn’t the most popular opinion, but sometimes you’re just not ready. Like you said it’s hard committing to a lifestyle change and I don’t think it’s necessarily something people can switch on and off. I always compare it to a drug or alcohol addiction, you can try to quit but if you’re not really ready it’s not going to stick.

    • CaitlinHTP January 27, 2012, 7:55 pm

      I like the idea of sometimes not being ready and that being okay. It’s okay to sit with your unreadiness for a bit, I agree.

  • Sarah T. January 27, 2012, 10:01 am

    I can so relate to Emily and I think your advice was spot on. I love exercise but am not so fond of veggies. I have always struggled with my diet and eating right and in my mind have figured I always will. I like what you said about not being stuck or defining yourself a certain way. We can all change.

    Personally, I put together a list of 1 healthy habit to tackle each month. January is making sure I include at least 1 fruit/veggie at every meal. It’s become a habit now, though some meals I get stuck or bored. This has really helped me and I’ve noticed my hair is shinier, my nails are stronger and I feel better.

    As always, thanks for such an inspiring blog!

    • CaitlinHTP January 27, 2012, 7:54 pm

      Ooo i like your one goal a month idea. Esp the veggies one!

      Thanks for reading!

  • Ashley January 27, 2012, 10:17 am

    What an incredible post!

    I am in the beginning phase of healthy living (after being a health blog reader for about 2-3 years, it’s time to put it in action!) and #4 really resonates. It’s so true, thinking of food to live not live to food. Unhealthy eating has been a really vicious cycle. I have often found myself trying to rationalize an unhealthy meal as “oh just this once”, well those excuses got me into this unhealthy lifestyle! I am trying to constantly remember that food is fuel and not an emotional thing.
    Also, I think a workout and food plan is ideal for myself and it may help with others. I would like to be 100% with following the plan but I know there may be a slip here and there…and that’s okay 🙂

    Saving this post for a day when I need a little oomph! Thanks 🙂

  • Jen January 27, 2012, 10:24 am

    This is great advice, Caitlin! I totally agree with #4; that’s been very important for me keeping up with good habits (and now getting my boyfriend to join me). I seriously haven’t gotten sick in over a year and I chalk this up entirely to eating well, exercising, and sleeping enough.

  • StoriesAndSweetPotatoes January 27, 2012, 10:31 am

    This is all good advice. I’d say to really examine your priorities in life and what needs to be done becomes clear. Maybe make a list for visual motivation.

  • Morgan J January 27, 2012, 10:33 am

    this is a great motivating post I really needed. thank you!

  • jackie January 27, 2012, 10:41 am

    My favorite is #6. I think above all else, we have to tell ourselves that we can change and be whoever we want to be. For me, this is my biggest stumbling block. All too often I get wrapped up in thinking about how “if I haven’t lost the chunk of weight I want to lose by now why do I believe I will ever succeed?” But that’s just passive and lame. Because guess what, a year ago I didn’t have my master’s degree….now I do. Two years ago I was single, now I’m engaged…you get the idea. We never stay the same in any area of life, so why do we (often) believe we do when it comes to healthy living? I think we have to ask ourselves why we hold on to this particular story about ourselves and see what function it has in our lives. Maybe we are using it to protect ourselves from things we don’t want to feel. Or as a means to stay in a comfort zone. Whatever it is, we can rewrite that story. Journaling really helps me tap into this.

    Thanks for a great post!

  • Kelley January 27, 2012, 10:44 am

    This was actually a good motivation for me. My issue is not healthy eating (mostly, if I just buy healthy food I’m focred to eat it and I don’t question it.)

    My issue is 100000% being inactive. I work a full time 37-hour job. Then I work a part-time job which is about 28 hours a week. Two nights a week, I’m in a 3 hour long class for my BS. One weekend night a week I babysit. Then, when I have a free chunk of time, I’m a big sister for BBBS.

    Where does that leave me? Telling myself that going to the gym is the LAST thing I want to do with my free time. But it’s the FIRST thing I need to do to work on my health.


    • CaitlinHTP January 27, 2012, 7:53 pm

      I bet babysitting is REALLY active! Or you could make it active. You can def combine working with working out sometimes. I did NOT need to go to the gym when I was a bartender!

  • Kristen January 27, 2012, 10:44 am

    What a great post! 🙂 As a comment to Emily: I’ve found that while I never really learned to love exercise, I do LOVE setting goals and achieving them. So, I’d set reasonable goals for myself as Caitlin suggested (e.g., work out three time per week, bring my lunch instead of buying it, etc.) and work to achieve them during the week. For me, the feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction from meeting even small goals was what made a healthier lifestyle easier to maintain. Do I always meet my goals? Nope. But that’s okay. too. Sometimes, not meeting goals one week can give you an extra boost of motivation and determination for the next week. Good luck! And thanks, Caitlin!!

    • Emily January 27, 2012, 5:00 pm

      Good advice – I too like to see myself accomplish goals. I’ve used the star chart method for a long time to see the days of exercise per month add up, and now I’m using the blank training plan Caitlin suggests. It is definitely a big motivator to look at exercising as a task to be accomplished, it makes it more manageable. Thank you!

  • Rachel January 27, 2012, 10:45 am

    Wonderful post!

    My struggles have come with complete change in lifestyle over the last few years.

    The first few years that I was passionate about healthy living, I was in college with an extremely flexible schedule and I lived in an apartment with my best friend who also loved eating healthy and working out with me anytime. We always ate healthy and exercised all the time, and it was fun and easy.

    Then, we graduated college, and I moved in with my boyfriend, and started working full time. I had to completely re-evaluate all of my healthy habits and find a way to fit them into a completely new daily lifestyle. It was a real challenge. I was still pretty close to work, and had a gym that I really enjoyed, so I was able to make time for healthy shopping/cooking/eating and exercise.

    Then, my boyfriend-turned fiance and I bought a house way out in the burbs, and it meant a longer commute on top of a full-time schedule. Everything else took longer too. The grocery store was farther away. Our friends and family were farther away. More time got taken away from my healthy lifestyle. There was only one gym in my town and the atmosphere wasn’t a good fit for me. By the time we got home from work (we commuted together to save on gas so I couldn’t go straight to the gym or to another workout) it was dark out, and my now-husband wasn’t interested in working out or eating healthy. Ever.

    We were also planning a wedding which ate away even more time, and with the combination of everything else, I lost sight of a lot of my healthy habits for awhile. I chose to let it to take a back seat so I could fit everything else in at the time. I was also in therapy to work on some disordered ideas that I had developed about eating/exercise. So while 40 hours a week with no kids seems like there would be plenty of time to eat and cook healthy foods, that’s not always the case.

    Again, I was faced with the challenge of re-creating my healthy habits in a totally new lifestyle (and making sure to stay mentally healthy about it all). I bit the bullet, and signed up for a hot yoga membership a few towns over. Its really pricey and far away. But you know what? I LOVE it. It requires no motivation b/c I always want to be there so bad. To survive the class I have to stay hydrated all day or I will faint, and it also helps to eat healthy to excel in the studio. This is working great for me now.

    So, in closing on the longest comment in the history of the world, my challenge has been to continue to adapt to my changing circumstance and keep myself healthy as I go.

    • CaitlinHTP January 27, 2012, 7:52 pm

      Thank you for sharing your story!

  • Ashley {The North Carolina Cowgirl} January 27, 2012, 11:11 am

    Wow..I started reading that and realized Emily and me are EXACTLY alike. While I don’t hate to exercise, I do prefer to be lazy. My excuse is always that I worked all day, then go home to be a single parent and do hw/cook dinner/baths/etc, and by 8pm when I can finally sit down, all I want to do is relax. I also don’t eat very healthy at all! I don’t eat any fruits and only a handful of vegetables. I’ve tried to eat more but I can’t stomach them. Either I’ll gag because of the texture or I just hate the taste. Both of those problems just have me stuck in an unhealthy lifestyle. I want to break it b/c I know getting healthier would also help me feel better. My goal this year is to really put more effort into exercising. I want to try new at home routines or getting out and walking/running. So if you have any you like please share them with me. 🙂

    • Jill February 2, 2012, 2:17 pm

      When I was looking to cut back on running a bit (bad knees), I discovered the Bar Method DVDs, and I love them! They’re great if you have a quick hour at home. You’re constantly moving to different exercises, so it stays interesting, and all you need is some light weights and a chair.

      As far as veggies, I agree with what a lot of other commenters have said–it’s all in how you prepare them. Veggies tossed with olive oil, salt and pepper and then baked/broiled to be a bit crispy taste way less healthy for you than they are (that is to say, delicious)!

  • Becky January 27, 2012, 11:22 am

    This is such a great topic! I feel like “healthy living” blogs never really talk about how HARD it it sometimes to stay accountable. It makes a lot of them unrelateable. Not everyone likes oatmeal and kale 🙂
    I personally ALWAYS feel better when I work out. But knowing that isn’t always enough motivation. So I make a deal with myself. If I get dressed, go to the gym and once I get there, I REALLY don’t want to stay, I can just go home. But I have yet to get there and then just walk out. I figure, since I’m there, I might as well do SOMETHING. Even if I only hop on the elliptical for 20 minutes, its better than the zero minutes I would have done otherwise.
    Actually, being pregnant has been helpful for learning to give myself a break vs. being lazy. I am usually a little obsessive about working out. But the first trimester is a total energy suck and there are times when I have just had to say “I need rest more than I need exercise.” And then there are times when I’m tired but I know a little movement will help, and I have to drag myself a little to get moving. If I do let myself rest instead of work out, I just try to make up for it by not eating a bag of M&Ms and 4 bagels. 🙂 Its all about balance, right?

    • CaitlinHTP January 27, 2012, 7:52 pm

      Amen 🙂 I think pregnancy has been a good lesson about this for me, too! Congrats on your pregnancy!

  • Beth @ DiningAndDishing January 27, 2012, 11:28 am

    This is a great post and so timely for me. I’ve been on a very healthy, happy track for years now but the past few months have been really difficult personally and professionally for me. And now I’m seeing myself start to slip…and be super intense about healthiness which ultimately leads to failure. The last thing I need during a time like this! I’m really making an effot (the past few days) to not be one crazy end or the other of the spectrum and just give myself a break during this tough time! Thanks Caitlin :).

  • Linz @ Itz Linz January 27, 2012, 11:42 am

    i LOVE your blank training plan schedule and i have totally adopted it… i wanted to lift weights more, but i have trouble following a consistent schedule.. sometimes i work out in the morning sometimes afternoon sometimes both so with my blank plan i aim to lift weights 3-4 days a week whenever it fits in! love that!

  • kwithme January 27, 2012, 11:55 am

    Emily’s comment resonated with me as well. I used to say that. My first thought is to reframe that statement or refine it. Know what, I don’t hate to move (exercise). I hate group classes where we have to yell or have an instructor yelling. I also hate counting. So, I choose exercise where I don’t do those things. I still have not found a way to strength train without counting (unless you don’t care how many reps you can do) so I have a trainer. It is huge for me, it is also a reward for how far I have come.

    Next, I make positive changes, like another commenter stated. For example, Eat a fruit or veggie with each meal. Eat every 2.5 hours. Take my vitamin D. I can check those off and feel accomplished. I think it is easier to DO something, then NOT DO something.

    My last tip is to use your procrastination urges for good. Instead of saying, I’ll work out tomorrow, I say, I can eat that tomorrow or this weekend. Half the time, I still want it and the other half I don’t care and skip it. Knowing that I CAN eat something in the future makes it much easier to refuse in a heated moment.

  • Katy @ HaveYouHurd January 27, 2012, 12:07 pm

    I think A LOT of people (including myself) can relate to Emily’s concerns.

    I think my biggest piece of advice would be to not quit her current lifestyle “cold turkey.” Slowly ease into healthy living. If you NEVER workout and you ONLY eat fast food for every meal…you can’t expece to start only eating raw vegetables and workout out 6 days a week immediately and be happy.

    Start out small. Start adding more spinach to your diet, or stop drinking Soda. Take something small, and commit to it.

    Honestly, once you get into a groove of things, you will start to see such an improvement on how you feel, you will finally get why people try to be healthy!

    • CaitlinHTP January 27, 2012, 7:51 pm

      Very good advice!

  • Emily January 27, 2012, 12:20 pm

    I’m another Emily who hates exercising. Healthy foods I can do, but I would rather pluck out all my leg hairs than run a mile. I’ve decided to try working out two nights a week and see how it goes from there. I may have to start with ten minutes every night, but at least it’s something.

  • Rachel January 27, 2012, 1:52 pm

    Another great solution to when you don’t feel like exercising is to rationalize or reason with yourself. A lot of times when I don’t feel like working out, I’ll tell myself instead of doing the 3 miles I planned, I just have to do one–even if it’s just walking. Often I find when that first mile is finished I have the energy to do all 3 miles. I think with exercise the first step is always the hardest. Once you are out the door, everything will be easier.

  • Amber K January 27, 2012, 3:02 pm

    That is really excellent advice. And I like what another commenter said about baby steps.

    Taking each day one step at a time is really a good way to get started towards any goal. There are certainly days where I don’t want to do anything related to a healthy lifestyle, but I remind myself how good it feels to treat my body right.

  • Kelly January 27, 2012, 3:29 pm

    This post definitely gave me the motivation and encouragement I needed. I’ve been struggling with exercising and eating healthy, and even this morning I made an excuse not to go to the gym because I was too lazy. Reading this gave me perspective and I want to be better for myself. Thank you!

  • Sheilah January 27, 2012, 3:30 pm

    Agreed – this is a really great post.
    I especially love the rule about not treating healthy living as optional. I remember someone telling me once (in the context of a conversation that I can’t recall whatsoever – possibly I was talking about some lifestyle change or new recipe?) that they just were not “into health”. I got what they meant but they way that they said it triggered me to realize that health isn’t optional. I sometimes think of it in the sense that everyone has some kind of health – some people have good health, and some have bad health (and obviously this is a giant simplification and most people would be somewhere in between). Ignoring healthy living practices and information does not make anyone’s bad health go away.

    Emily, one specific thing that has been helpful to me and might help you has been paying attention to serving sizes. I remember when I first started counting out the number of (for example) tortilla chips that I was going to have as a snack, according to the serving size printed on the bag (instead of leaving the bag open and mindlessly grazing). I just felt after I had finished my bowl of chips that OK, I had had my chips for the day and I was done. It was really helpful that there was a specific number and that that number didn’t come from me (it’s too easy to say “but I really need a treat so I’ll have a few more”). Anyway, if you’re prone to mindlessly eating and/or overeating, and you’re still not loving healthy food, keeping track of serving sizes of less-healthy food still means that you’re eating more intentionally (and quite possibly eating less junk). I hope this helps and wish you the best!

    • Emily January 27, 2012, 5:06 pm

      I definitely will try to watch my portions! I find it is helpful to look at those serving sizes as well. I think what really gets me is when I wait too long to eat, or skip a meal, I really get into the mindless snacking. Thanks for the advice!

  • Ari @ Ari's Menu January 27, 2012, 4:18 pm

    I love all of these, but especially love and agree with number 5!! It was really challenging to admit when I started going to the gym that I was not mentally or emotionally ready to focus on my issues with food at that time. It was a little embarrassing, but it was the truth, and by being honest and focusing on the one that didn’t feel overwhelming, eventually I found that I was able to tackle both things one step at a time. I feel like so many people get caught up in the all or nothing mentality, when really one step at a time is, in my opinion, the best way to reach your goals.

  • Rachel January 27, 2012, 6:30 pm

    I am in a similar situation to Emily. I know that there are some ways to exercise that I like (there is something for everybody) but I still manage to make excuses. For example, I know I like to dance, but I feel like I need to get a bit fitter before I can take that up. Which I know is probably just me making excuses.

    Also, I live with my parents, so healthy eating is difficult when I am limited to eating the healthy things they buy and cook. I don’t eat a lot of unhealthy foods, but this results in me undereating, and sometimes I think it would almost be better if I was eating junk, because then at least I would be getting enough food.

  • Les January 27, 2012, 6:39 pm

    I found your blog a few weeks ago and am so happy I did. It is one of the best health and fitness blogs I’ve come across. I’ve been enjoying digging into your blog whenever I have time to read. Keep up the great work!

    • CaitlinHTP January 27, 2012, 7:49 pm

      Thank you so much Les!

  • Grace January 27, 2012, 6:44 pm

    I find that it helps to tell my fiancé my workout plans that morning. Then when I come home feeling lazy and ready to blow it off he’ll usually remind me. If he says he already planned a guys night since I said I would be at the gym it’s usually enough motivation to stick with my plan. I also think that starting a new workout plan with a friend is key. I’m intimidated to try new classes at the gym, but I feel more reassured going with a friend that is also new. Usually within a few weeks I feel comfortable enough to go on my own.

    • CaitlinHTP January 27, 2012, 7:49 pm

      I love having someone hold me accountable, too! That’s one of the reasons I started to blog.

  • Life's a Bowl January 27, 2012, 7:36 pm

    I really like rule #4, “Really recognize how making the healthier (or unhealthier) choice really makes you feel.” This is something that I should and need to start recognizing… Healthy versus unhealthy- the unhealthy might sound appealing and taste good in the moment, but later I always wish that I had chosen the healthier option…

  • Lisa January 30, 2012, 7:21 pm

    I hear this a lot from people. “I hate exercising.” Who cares? I did too. That was one of the reasons I weighed 250+ pounds!!! But I picked an activity I DID like (swimming) and once I started DOING it, it really wasn’t that bad. I realized that I didn’t hate exercise because I always felt a million time better after I did it!

  • Amy January 31, 2012, 12:09 pm

    This really is the best advice I’ve ever read on changing your habits. I really needed to read this. Thank you, Caitlin!

    • Caitlin January 31, 2012, 12:17 pm

      You’re welcome!

  • eemusings February 3, 2012, 6:45 pm

    For sure. I decided to start running after graduating uni because I finally had free time (between studying a full course load and working 20 plus hours a week I barely had time to eat and clean) and couldn’t run for the bus without puffing. I started going once a week. Small, realistic steps. I lived on a really steep road and couldn’t run all the way up without stopping, so I made that my first goal. Eventually I started to realise that somewhere among the pain, I actually felt GOOD sweating it out.

    I still love my carbs and my sugar, but I’ve also learned to like veggies a whole lot more. How? Just by experimenting. I love them roasted (am not a big fan of raw veggies) most of all. I’ve also come to realise I don’t actually like meat all that much. There are certain kinds of meat I do enjoy, but they’re generally expensive cuts that don’t fit into the budget. And again, my body feels good when I put good stuff into it (along with carbs, of course, so I don’t end up ravenous again an hour later).

Healthy Tipping Point