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When you’re working hard to become the best version of yourself that you can be, it can be easy to get swept up in trying to be perfect all the time.

No time to indulge yourself in unhealthy habits — there’s work to be done and progress to be made, right?

The funny thing about being human is that we don’t do very well when we deprive ourselves too much of the things we truly love.

Sure, we can build new healthy habits where we make better choices and exercise great self-control, but too often we resist rewarding ourselves with the very things we’ve been trying to get a grip on — usually out of fear of not making perfect progress or completely losing control and undoing everything.

And that can sometimes end up doing us more harm than good.

Despite our need to exercise great self-control around the not-so-healthy things we love the most, pleasure is a part of human nature.

That instinctive (yet temporary) desire you get from certain things like tasting chocolate cake or finally buying that new pair of shoes you’ve been eyeing can be fulfilled in a healthy way that actually supports your growth rather than to shatter it.

Here are just five common “guilty pleasures” all of us could probably admit to having trouble with managing, plus some tips on how to incorporate them constructively into your healthy habits.

Indulge Yourself

1. Snacking when you’re not really hungry.

Potato Chips

You’re stressed, bored, tired, anxious, frustrated or all of the above.

But you’re not really hungry.

So what do you do?

You grab a bag of potato chips and go to town as a way to deal with your emotions.

What to do instead:

  • Identify what it is that you’re feeling and why you’re feeling that way.
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  • Anticipate when your emotions might strike and trigger those cravings.
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  • Schedule 1 or 2 times a week (or as much or as little as your diet will let you) where you can let yourself snack on something you love.
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  • Maintain portion control by using dishes so you can avoid finishing off an entire bag of chips or an entire tub of ice cream.
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  • Don’t scarf it all down; snack slowly and savour each bite.
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  • Plan healthier snacks on those other days you can’t afford to indulge.
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  • Explore other activities that soothe those bothersome emotions.
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2. Drinking alcohol.

Alcohol

You’re out with friends or you’re at a dinner party.

Of course, there’s lots of alcohol around and you’re offered a drink.

You don’t want to be a party pooper, so you accept.

You’re having fun, so you have another drink.

And maybe another after that.

What to do instead:

  • Plan ahead for a bit of drinking so you can avoid alcohol the rest of the week.
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  • Avoid the extra sugar and calories that come with mixed drinks by sticking with straight liquor.
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  • Limit yourself to 1 or 2 drinks, maintaining this clear cut-off point in your mind.
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  • Plan exactly what you’re going to say ahead of time if someone offers you another drink. Something as simple as “No thank you, I’ve had enough for tonight,” might be all you need.
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  • Drink plenty of water afterward.
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3. TV and Netflix binging.

Netflix

All six seasons of a show you’ve been interested in just made it to Netflix.

You watch the first one and decide it’s really good.

So you let Netflix do its thing and continue the never-ending stream of show after show after show.

What to do instead:

  • Start scaling back your time in front of the TV by shaving off one hour a day every week.
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  • Consider downgrading your cable or streaming service package to just the essentials if the amount of choice you have has become a problem.
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  • If Netflix is your guilty pleasure, disable the autoplay feature that’s keeping you hooked.
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  • If cable TV is more your style, try looking into the manufacturer’s instruction manual to see if there’s a timer or sleep setting that can automatically turn it off after a certain amount of time.
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  • If you do plan an episode binge, schedule it on a day where you know you’ll have the time to enjoy it, and work on getting everything else you need to get done throughout the week beforehand.
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4. Procrastinating.

Browsing

There’s so much to do, but you don’t even want to think about it!

So instead, you distract yourself with internet browsing, watching TV, napping or anything to avoid the pain of living up to your responsibilities.

What to do instead:

  • Determine how urgent it is to get a task done; sometimes we can afford to procrastinate and sometimes we can’t.
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  • Give yourself a time limit to procrastinate by setting a timer on your phone rather than let it go way past what’s acceptable.
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  • If you’re going to procrastinate, try doing it by being productive rather than doing nothing. Indulge yourself in a hobby you love or even get something else done that’s not as painful, like cleaning or errands.
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5. Napping or sleeping in.

Sleeping

It’s the weekend, and you just slept in until 11:00 am.

You lost almost half the day and you probably won’t be tired at your regular bedtime, potentially setting you up for a hard time getting back into your regular wake-up time too.

What to do instead:

  • Determine how much sleep you need on an average night and plan to get that much during the week to avoid the need to sleep in so much.
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  • If you must sleep in, don’t go overboard. Try to keep it 30 minutes to an hour past your regular wake-up time..
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  • If you’re a napper, find out how to nap productively for shorter periods of 10 to 30 minutes.
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  • Break your habit of hitting the snooze button multiple times if it’s interfering with your sleep quality and causing you to sleep in too much.
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  • Aim to improve your quality of sleep at night to reduce the need to nap or sleep in frequently.
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There are lots more guilty pleasures out there, many of which will be unique to each individual.

Hopefully these tips can act as a starter to helping you find a way to indulge in them in a way that serves your pleasure senses and recharges you for getting back on track again later.

What’s your favourite guilty pleasure to indulge yourself, and how do you manage it without going overboard?

Let me know by leaving a comment below!

Indulge Yourself

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Elise

Having struggled with diet and fitness since her early teens, Elise spent most of her life cycling between periods of extreme exercise/food restriction and binge eating/burnout. After suffering metabolic damage back in 2013, she began to research how hormones and metabolism affect weight loss and body composition. She has since achieved the most hourglass-like figure she's ever had and continues to live a healthy, sustainable lifestyle eating everything in moderation and exercising regularly.
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