Staying on Track When Life Changes Drastically

By , Julie Fagan, guest blogger from
A lot of changes have occurred in my life in the past two months.

I quit my full-time job to become a freelance writer and healthy living blogger at Peanut Butter Fingers. Then my husband accepted a new job and we moved--into a hotel. We couldn’t find a house to rent in our new hometown right away, which led us to living in a hotel on weekdays and living at my parents’ house (two hours away) on the weekends.

Needless to say, all of these big life changes affected my normal eating habits.
I no longer had access to a real kitchen. No stove. No oven.

In the beginning I was tempted to throw in the towel and rely solely on microwaveable meals to get me though the transitional time until we moved into our rental home.  

Three days of frozen burritos later, I felt lethargic and knew I needed to introduce fresh produce, whole grains and unprocessed foods back into my diet.

I made an action plan.

The first obstacle?

Breakfast at the hotel’s complimentary breakfast buffet. My plan? Eat protein and whole grains. Instead of the sugar-laden scones, I opted for oatmeal with peanut butter and a sliced banana or scrambled eggs with whole wheat toast.

Then came lunchtime. I made sure every lunch included vegetables and lean proteins. I quickly fell in love with arugula, feta cheese and watermelon salad drizzled with olive oil and found my energy returning, allowing me to plow through the rest of the day without feeling tired or grumpy.

At dinner, my husband and I agreed not to rely on fast food or take out and made meals using frozen homemade vegetable lasagna that my mother made and sent with us to the hotel, along with side salads, snow peas, carrot sticks and bell pepper slices. Any vegetable we liked that didn’t require roasting or sautéing became game. Healthy sandwiches were a frequent favorite.

Once I acknowledged that my eating habits needed work, my action plan and commitment to staying away from convenience foods in favor of wholesome meals made me feel better both physically and mentally.

I knew I couldn’t use the big changes in my life as an excuse to neglect my commitment to healthy living and rededicated myself to finding healthy meals and snacks to get me through the day. And I instantly felt better.

I’m counting down the days until we can move into our new rental house, but until then, I’m going to do my best to continue to maintain a diet rich in nutritious foods.

Have you ever gone through some serious life changes that have affected the way you eat? How did you adjust?

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NASFKAB 10/6/2020
Thank you Report
GETULLY 8/20/2020
Living in a hotel for a week while floors were being redone at home. We had a suite and a small frig so I brought healthy food. Report
VHAYES04 6/3/2020
Ty Report
great Report
Wonder how this health blogger is doing now, old article and all that? Report
Great article! Thanks! Report
We are at a hotel for 57 days and I follow a similar plan at the complementary buffet at breakfast. I also bring something to our table in the common room, discreetly, like blueberrues or avicadi to shake up my menu. Report
Very helpful article. Report
Thanks. Report
My eating habits do not change when going through major life changes but my husband pretty much stops eating. Report
You are an inspiration to me. Thanks. Report
Good for you for listening to your body and your better sense. I'm proud of you for sharing this with all of us. Thank you! Report
This is so relevant for me. In 2 weeks time I will be made redundant. All my Sparking habits have been made while I have been working 6 days a week. I know how far I walk on an average day and how much I can eat.

Now I have to get into a new healthy routine. I am going to track every last bit of food I eat for a few weeks and wear a pedometer so I can count how many steps I walk in my own home and area.

The good news is that I will have lots more time for proper, unrushed exercise and will be able to concentrate on organising myself a lot better. Report
We are looking at re-locating in the near future and I appreciate your notes! Good job - I have a better clue as to how to handle my eating! :) Report
Congratulations on recognizing what was going on! When I went thru my stressful years, I was so unaware, and as the lbs piled back on I just went deeper into my depression and never made the connection that if I would do what I had been doing, I would feel more like I was feeling. Now, 4 years later I am back at my old wt plus 15 lbs. My cholesteral is high, my bp is borderline, I am pre-diabetic, on chantix to stop smoking and an anti depressant and I am almost 60 years old. It would have been so much easier to have stayed on track than to be climbing the mountain again, but here I go, hopefully wiser on the journey and for the last time! Report
Well done. Before reading this I was just writing in my exercise journal how I have changed from using injuries as a reason to drop my exercise program to understanding how important it is to work out an alternative exercise. And I believe this mindset is a pathway to permanent improvement. Here you are, keeping your eye on the goal and negotiating an obstacle with ease. Good for me and good for you! Report
You asked about how we have had to adjust to changes so.... here goes.....

I just got blessed with THREE new children. I already had a 2 year old and a 15 year old (not to mention 3 adult children) Now I have 5 children ages 2,4,5,12,and 15!

I read this blog to get ideas of what to do. I have to feed such a LARGE family now that bread and pasta seems to best cheap way to fill them up. I have resisted that urge and they are eating a lot of fruit right now, but I have to go shopping today so I am searching for long term answers to how to feed us all in a healthy manner without breaking my budget. Report
I really like that A. You noticed and B. you came up with a workable plan and then C. you followed through.
Very Inspiring!!!! Thank you
Knowing how lethargic you felt compared to how energised after implementing your plan is a reward and great motivation to continue with your healthy work around! Congrats!!! Report
Thank you! I needed this inspirating story. I had just put on my blog about how my depression was affecting my choices of eating healthy. And look at you! - you are doing it while you are facing so many obstacles. Your article is a God send. Again thank you!!! Report
Good for you!! I have a tendency to just eat junk food when things get off course, but this was very inspiring.... Report
How motivating! Report
Just since coming home from vacation in June, my sister has been treated for Breast Cancer, my grandchildren were flooded out, and my husband came home from the doctor yesterday and announced that he has "pre-Diabetes" - It's a little overwhelming for all of us. I don't know what I'd do if I couldn't read the blogs everyday - they help to keep me a little more grounded Report
Great job! Just proves that excuses are just that. You can work with any situation.
Good for you :) Report
Some days I feel so tense and upset, with different aspects of life, that I just eat, every, and anything to comfort myself. Report
I admire your stamina under tough circumstances!! You have a winning attitude! Report
Good for you. I am having a battle of wills at my house. My husband who always used to travel Monday through Friday has now come home. During the week in his absence, I went to the gym every night, ate mostly vegetarian, healthy non processed fare and did not drink. He, on the other hand, is a total couch potato with bad dietary habits and he drinks daily. I am trying to stay with my routine, but I notice in the two months that he's been home, my weight loss streak has stopped and even has begun to reverse itself. Not a good sign. It's hard when temptation is every where. I am trying to refocus my efforts. We have come to some compromises on the food. I cook veggie and he adds meat that he is responsible for grilling. I still go to the gym every night and sometimes he will join me. He knows that I am on the right path and I think he is trying to improve. This is one battle we both need for me to win. Thanks to Spark People for all the support and ideas. I can't tell you how much you help. Report
I do everything i can to eat healthy, its just getting the chance to actually eat!!! I have such a busy life right now.Hubby baby and toddler keep me so busy i forget to eat some days!! I give you a big"WAY TO GO" shout out!!! Report
If I am under stress I lose my appetite but never crave any crap. Report
Great job! It's difficult to ignore a valid excuse--you easily could have used the lack of a kitchen and no one would have faulted you. Congrats on seeing the big picture and finding workable solutions. Report
Wow, what a challenge, and what a great recovery plan! Thanks for sharing your tips :D Report
This post is a great example of how you can eat healthy even in trying situations, if you are willing to work within the constraints. Thanks! Report
Great blog, I admire your persistence to eat healthy and not give in to the stress of your situation. I've had major stresses in my life and I gravitate to fast food and comfort food, which I know is not good for me. I work very long hours and it takes more time to fix a healthy meal. Although the 'bad' food usually takes less time to prepare, I'm making a conscious effort to try to cook homemade meals and fresh vegetables as often as I can during the week. I have a long way to go incorporating healthy eating at every meal, but for me it's one step at a time. Report
I love how our bodies bounce back when we feed them right! I caught the use of your italics on the word 'instantly' when you talked about how rapidly your body felt better when you started eating healthy meals and snacks again. When we feed our bodies what they need (instead of what we think we want), the rewards start coming immediately, and feel oh-so-good! Thanks for the blog. It reminded me of how I used to feel compared to how I feel now. It's the difference between 'horrible' and 'wonderful'! Report
My husband just pass away on sept 5,2011 trying to find my new normal so much of the last few years was caregiving 24/7 it is going to take awhile but I will find it. Report
New job position which uncluded more stress, more hours which made me more tired at the end of the day prevented me from the exercise I was used to and needed. Later meals and less snacks between meals led to overeating... This change was not good. Report
It's amazing how life changes can alter your eating habits. I am dealing with this now. Trying to transition from single to married life and pursuing a new career path is taking its tole on my body. Thanks for this article. It was very informative on how small changes can make a big difference. BTW, I love the blog! Report
Well written. Isn't it amazing that even a few days of not eating as healthy as we know we should can do such damage? You did great making your situation work for your benefit. Report
I've been through pretty drastic changes a couple of times, but it was after becoming settled that I started gaining weight and letting myself go. Now, it's a matter of breaking out of my "comfort zone" which isn't all that comfortable anymore. Report
I've been there! In the process of our move was when my weight was at its' highest. Thankfully after getting settled, I've lost 16 pounds! Report
You did a fabulous job under tough circumstances!! Thanks for sharing your approach to staying healthy. Report
Great outlook and ideas. Report
Life can certainly throw us some curve balls making it difficult to be healthy. You're proof that eating healthy is a choice we make and that we're not victims of our circumstances. Thank you for the reminder! Report
I can totally relate! I recently picked up and moved across the country. It's taken some time to get used to the move, but unlike you, I let my healthy habits fall by the way side. I've recently recommitted to putting myself first and can already feel the difference again! Report
Changes has become a big part of my life recently, and well coming back to sparkpeople after so long it has been my sidekick as far as help distinguishing what is good and what is bad for me. Since, "the change" is what is taking over my life right now the fact that I am actually JUST watching what I am eating without thinking twice is great. Although the change is really taking over my life right now, I am so glad that i am here finally looking after myself in the ways I have always wanted to. Great blog!

In March I relocated to a mobile home which had a funky icky kitchen, which grossed me out. I was also extremely busy working FT without a break and busy painting, moving, renovating, renting my old house, etc. I DIDN"T adjust well.

Stress took over and I ate out constantly and gained about 25 lbs. over 8 months. Didn't help that retired DH doesn't cook or plan meals...other than getting frozen pizza and tortilla chips and salsa.

I guess the key is motivation, time, planning. None of which I had at the time. I knew it would be a challenge but wasn't up to then. So, since it's never too late to change, I've now "stopped the madness" and am back on the right eating track. DH is doing better too.

My advice: if you can't manage it right away, don't feel too guilty. Recognize that it's happening, and eventually PICK A DATE when you will begin the new effort to eat better. and PICK A STRATEGY at that date that works for you. Report
With all of the foods in groceries stores, it really isn't necessary to get "junk." The stores I go to have whole sections with fresh fruits and vegetables and if a person has a small refrigerator, you can keep in it what you need & shop again in a few days. There is meats and other items in the store as well. My husband was in the military so we moved a number of times so I certainly know about getting by on almost nothing while everything we had was in storage. One summer we lived in a tent at a camp ground for 2 weeks before we got into military housing since that was cheaper to do than a motel. Report
My husband and I sold our house and moved in with my mother last year. Since I go to the gym most nights after work, she does the cooking. She cooks a lot of foods that I wouldn't necessarily cook. For example, she only makes baked potatoes or sweet potatoes for a starch. I would rather have chick peas or kidney beans for more fiber. I guess I can't complain because I don't have to cook when I get home from work/gym, but I can't wait until I have my own kitchen (and home) again! Report
Yes, when I was diagnosed with gastroparesis in December; a lot of the foods that most people eat to stay healthy, I cannot eat any more, such as salads, beans, raw veggies, berries, and whole grains. I have to stick to a low fat/low fiber diet. It's really hard to get variety with such a limited diet, but I feel lucky I can eat at least some foods, many people with gastroparesis are on liquid only diets or feeding tubes. Report
Well done, you!
Totally recognise your story, since I've lived in a student's residence where I couldn't use the kitchen. Used to prepare loads of salads in those days. Although it was hard sometimes to have to to deal with less food options, I discovered some great recipes back then that I still prepare today.
Keep up the good work!
Love, Marlouschka Report
So cool to see a post from you here, Julie! I was just commenting on your blog about the way we pronounce things!

Life can definitely throw a wrench into the best laid plans, but having an idea in mind of what I want to do really helps me. Report