The key to a healthy and happy life lies in finding balance, not in denying yourself life’s basic pleasures like comfort food and TV. Provided you can balance things out with exercise and healthier food choices, you can and, arguably, should indulge yourself.
The basic principle of it is familiar because we’ve all had it drummed in us when we were growing up: if you worked for it – you can have it. It’s all about whether you deserve to have an extra hour of playing a video game or eating a chocolate or not. And it works, if you pay for it, first.
Food indulgences are tricky since you can’t let yourself have something nice and comforting after every training session otherwise you’ll cancel all out all of your hard work. It really comes down to using a simple formula correctly. If your body is getting the extra food = energy to burn in, it has no reason to dig into your reserves. So it’s not a good idea to have a chocolate after each run unless you have run over 10K and will have a calorific deficit even after a mars bar, for example. You can, however, make your “payment” in installments over several training sessions. So three full training sessions earn you a meal of your choosing or a treat. It doesn’t mean you can have a bucket of ice-cream, of course, but it does mean that in moderation you can have anything you want.
Food indulgences are important for keeping your spirit strong. If you have something to look forward to, it’ll be easier to put up with your training regime and you’ll feel happier and not deprived all the time. I suppose you could say that by doing it this way you can have your cake and eat it - sort of.
TV & Video games
These are fun, especially good quality series and good quality games not something you watch and play out of boredom. The TV or games aren’t the problem, the constant sitting down and idleness is. Our bodies are designed to work and are their happiest when they have been exercised. This is indeed the situation of “use it or lose it”. And most of us spend a lot of time sitting down all day so we need a lot of extra activity to compensate for that already.
There is a good way to fix that, get fit in the process and still indulge in viewing and playing: pay in exercise in advance. As a matter of fact, make a price list for yourself consisting of basic routines that you have to perform before you get to have your fun. So to watch one episode of your favorite series you have to first do 20 burpees or you can’t play a game until you do 40 squats. Every fun, but idle activity has to have a pricetag on it so that all of the sitting down is accounted for.
It's all in the balance
Eventually you get used to the daily exercise and won’t even think about it twice. It’ll become as normal as brushing your teeth; and to be fair it should be just as much part of your life as that for you to get and stay fit.
It’s all in the balance and in being accountable for everything you do. Eating lots of sweets and fries and then promising to be good “on Monday” doesn’t work because come Monday, you’ll be saying “I meant next Monday”. What’s better? To promise be better tomorrow, eat fries and feel good for five minutes or work for your fries first and then feel good long-term? And if everything else fails and things get out of hand, you can always use Scarlett o’Hara’s wise words “I’ll eat it tomorrow” (yes, I am pretty sure that’s what she said).
Earn your play time and you’ll never feel guilty about it ever again.