Sheryl Kraft, a freelance writer and breast cancer survivor, was born in Long Beach, New York. She currently lives in Connecticut with her husband Alan and dog Chloe, where her nest is empty of her two sons Jonathan. Sheryl writes articles and essays on breast cancer and contributes to a variety of publications and websites where she writes on general health and wellness issues. She earned her MFA in writing from Sarah Lawrence College in 2005.Full Bio
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Well, here were are, the second week into the new year and you’ve probably had it up to here with promises you felt compelled to make to yourself. Or, maybe not. Personally, instead of making resolutions – which I almost always tend to break, thus forcing the same ones over and over again—I've learned to make goals. Somehow the word “goal” is not as threatening and even a bit less menacing, don’t you think?
At any rate, I was interested to hear about a new book that the well-known Dr. Susan Love co-authored with a psychologist. (I haven’t read the book nor am I promoting it here; instead I’d like to share its premise.) What a comfort to know, just as I was about to write about some new research on how Americans are living unhealthier lives that someone is taking the pressure off. I appreciate research, I really do, but sometimes it all makes my head spin, it changes so fast.
Dr. Love writes that there are so many health rules and in our quest for “perfection” we are creating self-defeating behaviors like overeating. I heard Dr. Love, on a TV interview, say that we’re fitter than we think (yippee!) and that while we shouldn’t ignore all the research out there, we absolutely need to go easier on ourselves and have fun along the way (not her words, but rather my interpretation).
I have to admit that I sometimes get caught up and strive for perfection, or at least, I try to, when it comes to my health. It’s hard not to be aware of all the latest research when you’re a health writer, after all. (And having gone through cancer certainly doesn’t help my paranoia when it comes to my body.)
So, you ask, how do you have fun and/or back off—but still maintain good health? Well, it’s all about moderation and doing what works for you. Take sleep. The “rule” is eight hours a night, but some people wake up perfectly refreshed after seven, or even five. You might be one of them. No time for exercise? Don’t forget that walking, carrying groceries and cleaning the house all count toward some activity—and sometimes some is better than none. And if you just can’t resist that bowl of ice cream, have it. It won’t kill you.
Like everything else, the goal is balance. I know it’s hard to find in our crazy-busy lives. But I think it can be done if we step back, take a breath and let go of perfection. The reality is that we just can’t do it all, but I do think we can have it all by keeping healthy habits in mind while giving ourselves permission to travel off-road just once in awhile.
I’ve personally always thought that it’s those unconventional people who are a lot more interesting and fun than the ones who never break the rules, anyway.
PS. Click here to find out about how you can help Dr. Love eradicate breast cancer.
You might also want to read why some people do not need as much sleep as others.