The Key to Healthful Living is Variety

My boyfriend of 2+ years and I went on six dates before my job sent me 500 miles away for three months. We were lucky to like each other enough that three months of distance wasn’t even close to a deal breaker.

Three months turned to seven months, and seven months quickly turned into a permanent position at my organization’s headquarters. Before my boyfriend and I had become ‘official’ we both were clear about one thing: in order to succeed in the long run we still needed to allow each other and ourselves options.

This has always been my approach to life. I didn’t apply to one college- I applied to five to give myself some options. When you look into my closet you see seven to ten outfits for work, just as many for lounging around the house, and twice as many as that for going out with my friends.

This same strategy translates really well to a healthful lifestyle. I don’t commit to only cabbage soup for two weeks to lose 10 pounds (this is a real thing.. my grandfather used to do it to lower his cholesterol before a doctor’s visit). I always have a wide variety of healthful eating and exercise options to choose from. It takes some planning, but in order to succeed in the long run I need to give myself multiple paths to success.

I recently re-read an article from 2015 in the The Atlantic Monthly that discussed a ‘healthyish’ approach to eating. It really resonates with me because being healthy and happy shouldn’t (and doesn’t!) mean that I need to completely limit myself to only certain kinds of food.

When you’re starting a new healthful lifestyle change, don’t create unattainable goals or build a tiny cage around your diet. Give yourself options. There’s actually psychological science showing a direct correlation between boredom and repetition. Prevent boredom and preserve your excitement in being healthful by continuously switching your diet and exercise routines up. By trying everything, staying flexible, and planning ahead you will not only get to know the healthful world out there better- you’ll probably discover yourself too.

After I moved into my ‘permanent’ Washington D.C. apartment my (still long-distance) boyfriend and some friends came to visit me. We were at a rooftop lounge and I was showing him something on my phone when I realized my tinder app was in the same menu. We laughed at first, but in that moment I realized I had really found a person that I loved and I didn’t need other options anymore.

Once you get into the groove of your new healthful lifestyle you’re definitely going to find foods and exercise routines you can’t get enough of. (For me that’s quinoa and working out in my living room for free and all alone.) When you find healthful habits you love – go ahead and commit yourself.

There’s nothing wrong with limiting yourself to something that makes you happy unconditionally.


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