5 Tips to Stay Healthy in Stressful Circumstances

It’s been a week that I’ve been in New Jersey now.  When I flew out here, I had no information to go on beyond that my brother found my mother collapsed on the floor and she was in the hospital.  So my husband booked me a one-way ticket, I packed a few things and left.  Packing when you have a) no idea how long your visit will last, and b) you’re not sure if you will still compete in a fitness competition being held in 2 weeks, turned out to be quite interesting.

For one thing, I’m an emotional eater.  If you say “hospital,” I think “chocolate.”  But chocolate is not in the meal plan if you are going to be standing on stage in a bikini in two weeks.  Long story short: my mom’s getting better, but I’ll be here for at least a month to care for her, so obviously I dropped out of the competition.

So…stress + no immediate reason to follow clean eating rules + no exercise = uh oh.  The good news is that chocolate chip cookies and peanut butter cups taste EXACTLY as delicious as I remembered them.  The good news is that I know myself, and have some strategies in place to keep myself in check, which I will share with you now:

5 Tips to Stay Healthy in Stressful Circumstances

  1. Don’t pack your “fat” jeans.  I was really tempted to bring my bigger pants “just in case,” but then pulled them out of my suitcase last minute.  This was a good decision.  As long as my normal jeans still fit and don’t get tight, I know I haven’t gone overboard with the comfort foods.
  2. Do pack healthy food for the plane ride.   Bringing pre-made Tupperware containers of fish and asparagus onto a plane that might be delayed due to Hurricane Andrew did not seem like the best idea to me, so I packed travel-friendly options like rice cakes and peanut butter, apples, almonds, and protein powder.  I was prepared when my plane was delayed and also saved myself some money by not buying airport food.

    Healthy snacks for the plane trip
    Healthy snacks for the plane trip
  3. Be flexible.  Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”  I was hoping to be able to go to the nearby gym, but don’t feel comfortable leaving my mom alone that long yet.  But, hey!  I’m a personal trainer!  Who needs a gym?  So now when my mom naps, I run around the block.  I do sets of 50 squats, push-ups and crunches.  I do my flexibility stretches.  A little exercise goes a long way to help you maintain sanity.

    Stay connected with friends
    Stay connected with friends
  4. Call a friend.  My friends have been great about calling, texting,  and emailing me with kind thoughts for my mom and reminders for me to not jump off the bandwagon into a bucket of fried chicken.  It helps more than you can imagine.
  5. Get back on track.  If you do demonstrate signs of being a flawed human being like me (i.e. – cookies and peanut butter cups) don’t beat yourself up.  Even bodybuilders have cheat meals.  But the key is to get back on track.  I’ve stocked up on healthy foods from the local farmers market so I can cook for myself and my mom.  It’s also comforting to know that while there are lots of things completely out of my control right now, at least I can control how I fuel my body.

    Groceries from the farmers market
    Groceries from the farmers market

Ultimately my body is happier when I eat clean and exercise, and yours is probably too, so continue doing just that as best you can, in whatever circumstances you may find yourself.

How about you?  How do you keep healthy in stressful circumstances.

Lisa ;)

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