In a recent survey by the Institute of Food Technologists, 52% of Americans said they felt that it's easier to figure out their income taxes than to understand how to live a balanced, healthy lifestyle. It can be especially hard to balance things when you know both are good for you and you’re feeling the pressure to make the ‘right’ choice when you’re not sure what that is or how to accomplish it. One of the most stressful balances to find is that involved in maintaining your health and fitness. It seems like every message says to be more motivated, more fit, and more active, but for some, this isn’t the right advice. Like with everything, moderation is important to achieve long lasting, healthy results. While everyone’s health and fitness journey is unique to them, there are a few tricks that can help you see progress without losing control. Pacing Yourself When you want to see results, it can be tempting to make drastic changes to your diet and exercise schedule. However, sudden changes might show quick results, but those results can disappear as quickly as they happened. And, while seeing early results can motivate you to keep going, it can also set your expectations unrealistically high and make it harder to keep going when your progress slows to a regular, healthy pace. Making big alterations to your routine can also make it hard to sustain those habits, and the guilt you might feel when you fail to meet your goals can set you back and send you spiralling into bad habits again. It might be frustrating, but start slow at first, even if you feel like you’re ready for more. Instead of trying to exercise every single day, pick a few days a week, and after you’re successful for a few weeks, take it up a notch. You’ll build a sustainable habit, avoid injuries, and get a more realistic idea of how your body is reacting to the changes. Once you're in a healthy pattern, you can explore ways to speed up weight loss or make your workouts or dietary choices more intense. 76% of the people surveyed by the IFT also agreed that they had a hard time keeping up with changing food and health guidelines, so taking a slow and steady approach can help you incorporate new information without losing control each time you learn something. The Triangle Trick It’s also hard to juggle good habits across all areas of your life. Sometimes, keeping up diet, exercise, and other healthy habits all at once can stress you out and make you more likely to lose track of all your good habits at once. When surveyed, 58% of people said they think about how healthy their food is, and 61% said they worry about getting enough exercise, but only 20% consider their diet 'very healthy' and at least 20% don't meet the recommended daily amounts of exercise. This gap, between intention and accomplishment can be hard to overcome, especially if you're stressed about doing everything better all at once. Instead, use the ‘triangle trick’ to set your priorities and cut yourself some slack. Each week, or even month, pick three areas you’re trying to maintain healthy habits in and find the one that will be hardest to keep up. If it’s a busy work week, maybe you won’t be able to get to the gym as much. Or, if it’s a friend’s wedding, you might be expecting to drink a lot when you’re celebrating. Take a step back on one corner of the triangle and put your effort into the other corners to ease your way and balance your life around your health. If you’re not getting to the gym as much because of work, be extra careful about eating good food and cut back on drinking. If you’re celebrating with friends, make sure to get in an early workout and plan what you’re eating to compensate. Ideally, all your healthy patterns will balance each other out. Finding balance doesn’t get any easier with time, you just get better at planning for uncertainty and understanding your body. Listen to what your body needs, and find a way to develop lifestyle patterns that meet your needs without taking over your life. Building sustainable habits and learning how to balance them in your life will set you up for success no matter what your goals are.