On the blog today, we’ve invited one of our favorite experts to inspire you on the subject of health and fitness! We often mention how important it is to prioritize self-care and health, but there’s nothing better than getting some fresh encouragement from Robin Long at The Balanced Life.

Do you ever find yourself getting caught up in the “all or nothing” mentality when it comes to health & fitness?

Either you’re “on” a diet or “off.”

You’re following a workout plan or you’re not.

Or perhaps, on an internal level you feel you’re either “being good” or “being bad” when it comes to your health & fitness routine.

Can you relate?

I used to struggle with this in a major way. I would go through seasons of being very dedicated to my exercise routine and eating a healthy diet, and seasons of inactivity, too many indulgences and the continual internal conversation about how I really needed to get back on track—on Monday.

When I found Pilates, my approach to fitness completely changed. I realized for the first time that exercise can be enjoyable. I also learned how to connect with my body again. And connecting with my body helped me to make daily decisions that would make me feel good and proud, rather than ashamed and guilty.

As a Pilates instructor, I hear women talking about their new diet, their new plan to lose weight and their new plan to finally make changes. But more often than not, they bite off more than they can chew by trying to change everything at once and end up “falling off the wagon” within the first few weeks.

Through all of my years teaching and training tens of thousands of women online, I’ve found that those who see the best results are those who take a more balanced, realistic approach to health and fitness.

Here are 3 practical ways to make sure you’re taking a healthy, balanced approach:

1. Start with small changes.

If you haven’t exercised in years, don’t set out to exercise 7 days per week for an hour per day. Start small. Commit to 10 minutes per day. Or perhaps 2-3 walks per week. Starting with small changes will build your confidence in your ability to change and that confidence will keep you moving forward and seeing results.

2. Ditch the “all or nothing” mentality.

Have you ever skipped a workout because you didn’t have time to complete the whole thing? Or perhaps you don’t really exercise because you don’t have time for hour-long classes plus a daily commute to the gym? Me too.

As a mom of two toddlers who runs a business from home, I get it. Letting go of the “all or nothing” mentality will help you stay consistent and get moving on a daily basis. My daily mantra? Something is always better than nothing. If you don’t have time for a 60-minute workout, do 30. If you don’t have time for 30, do 10. Do what you can and celebrate the fact that every little bit counts.

3. Embrace the fact that you can love and appreciate your body RIGHT NOW, while also striving to make healthy changes.

You will be you no matter how much weight you lose or how many push-ups you can do. Give yourself permission to embrace your body just as you are right now. Stop the negative self-talk. Release the shame. And embrace the body you have right now. Exercise and healthy eating shouldn’t feel like punishment for the things you don’t like about your body. Instead, focus on making positive changes through diet and exercise that will enhance the beautiful woman that you already are. Exercise and eat well because you love your body, not because you hate it—and the results will follow.

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Don’t let a busy schedule keep you from making time for your health and well-being. In order to show up and be your best for others, you must first take care of yourself.

Robin Long | The Balanced LifeRobin Long is founder of The Balanced Life, a place created to help women feel healthy, balanced, and strong through at-home Pilates workouts, wellness resources, and a supportive community of likeminded women around the world. Robin is offering a free 21 Days of Pilates challenge which will start on March 6, 2017.