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A large chunk of the work I do with folks involves coaching and helping people stay motivated. As a human, I am not immune to stumbling blocks in life–managing my stress levels and triggers. And sometimes I feel overwhelmed and get off track. Part of what helps me in my work with clients is being able to empathize with them, because I’ve been there too. I’ve experienced backslides, and still do. This is part of the process!

I was, at one time, stressed out, staying up too late, and getting caught up in unhealthy patterns. Although I was always in good health and thought my diet (which was largely comprised of wheat and soy “health food” products) was good, I suffered from severe anxiety and occasional depression, and my hormones were way out of whack. Once I learned that soy and birth control pills were the culprit in my hormonal imbalance, I was able to correct that. I learned to eat properly for my physiology — I cut out wheat, which always made me feel sluggish and disrupted my digestion. And I paid more attention to organic, whole foods, mostly local and seasonal. I saw first hand the powerful effects that diet can have on one’s health in reversing underlying causes of imbalance rather than covering up the symptoms with meds. I have a lot of energy and belief around the power of this work.

I did the Adrenal Stress Index and found out that high cortisol was causing my anxiety and contributing to my stress level. I did digestive testing and discovered the pathogens that were the reason for my occasional digestive disturbances. I did a whole body cleanse to remove toxins that had built up as a result of digestive and environmental toxins.

But it is still hard to stay motivated! I follow the 80-20 rule: follow my healthy regime 80 percent of the time and account for 20 percent “wild card:” this could be a late night out with friends, or getting take-out when I failed to plan ahead for dinner and had a long day!

The thing is, changing your lifestyle is always a work in progress. Always keep reading, keep learning, and keep finding like-minded individuals to support you and help you reach your goals. If you have toxic relationships, examine them: why are you attracted to that unhealthy pattern? What are you getting out of it? Some people have a comfort zone in chaos or depression and it takes effort to pull yourself out of an unhealthy cycle and place yourself into a new routine.

It’s been my experience that if you can stay motivated and really push yourself to develop new habits, it becomes easier after 21 days. Some people respond better to a complete lifestyle overhaul (kicking the sugar, kicking the refined foods, going to bed by 11pm, and meditating for 5-10 minutes every morning), while others integrate the new a little at a time before the healthy, good habits have edged out the stale, unhealthy habits. When you start to waver, get back on track by reading a passage from a book that inspired you to make changes in the first place. Take a moment to journal–this will help you spot patterns and triggers.

And most importantly, don’t be too hard on yourself!