As the saying goes, “the only constant in life is change”. The older you get, I think the more powerful that this statement becomes. You start to realize just how very true it is and aside from the big life events that start happening as you enter adulthood: careers, relationships, babies, deaths, etc; the small changes in our daily lives can have a big effect on our personal routines. For example, your kid starting a new sport season. Now in addition to everything you’ve already been doing, you’re responsible for taking your child to and from practices and games. This means your own schedule is affected and it causes a (very normal) shift. A goal you had set sight on and had been working towards could slip to the wayside, oftentimes without you really recognizing that it’s happening.
Because of these normal ups and downs of life, we have to do our best to acknowledge what’s happening, and come up with another plan. Taking care of yourself is just as important as taking care of your family, friends, and work responsibilities. After all, if you’re not taking care of you, it’s almost impossible to take care of others. You may be able to get away with it for awhile, but eventually it takes its toll.
Instead of throwing in the towel on your fitness goals just because you’ve gone off track, let’s talk about how to get back ON track. After all, the only way to TRULY fail is to completely give up. If you commit to continuously getting “back on the horse”, you’ll always be giving yourself the chance to succeed. That’s a success in itself, and hey, now that goal you’ve set for yourself is in sight. Let’s discuss.
1. Acknowledge and forgive.
The first part of getting back on track is to let go of the guilt. Acknowledge that you let things go a bit, shake it off, and look ahead. Beating yourself up over it will only have a negative effect. The BEST way to start moving towards your fitness and health goals again is to let go of the past, and start where you are.
2. Start slow.
You’ve taken time off, maybe you let your healthy eating habits fade, and your first thought is to go back to where you left off. This is typically a recipe for failure and I’ll tell you why. If you’ve taken a break from working out, you’re most likely going to be slower, weaker, and have less endurance than the last time you were in the gym. This is totally normal, as our bodies adapt to whatever we put them through. If they’ve adapted to a sedentary lifestyle, it’s going to be quite a wake-up call to go right back to the weights you used when you did your last workout 3 months ago. Same goes for eating healthy. If you’ve allowed more junk food into your life as of late, your system has likely adapted to that. Going straight into an extreme change is only going to overwhelm you. Instead, start slow. Don’t push yourself too hard in the gym at first. Use less weight, less time, and less intensity. You’ll have plenty of time to ramp it up, so ease your way back into your routine. With food, start re-introducing healthy habits into your day, but don’t put a ban on foods either. I like the idea of adding vs. subtracting. Instead of going through all the foods you CAN’T have, add in foods you’d like to have more of: fruits, vegetables, etc. Eventually, they’ll start replacing the junk.
3. Create a new goal and timeline.
You may want to revisit the initial goal you had set for yourself, or maybe things have changed and you want to work towards something else. Either way is fine. Take some time for yourself to sit down and think about what you’d like to accomplish. Figure out what a reasonable timeline for that might be, and put it in your calendar. In addition, you’ll want to strategize HOW you’ll get to that goal. It may be that you will do 3 workouts in the gym + a hike each week. Whatever it is, make sure you write it down somewhere that you’ll see it daily so that you’re always reminded of what you’re working towards.
4. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
If fitness goals were easy, we’d all be walking around with a six-pack. Let’s face it, this stuff is HARD. This is also why it is so rewarding (as most difficult goals are), so it IS worth the effort. Instead of trying to go at it alone, ask for help. This could mean many things. You may want to hire a personal trainer, you might sign up for a small group training membership where you’ll have people holding you accountable, maybe you want to have a friend join you on your challenge so that you can count on each other. Whatever way this manifests, accept it! We ALL need help. Even trainers have trainers. The smartest business coaches in the world have business coaches. Asking for help is not only something that you shouldn’t be embarrassed about, it’s something you should be proud of. It shows that you’re a smart person who knows they can’t do EVERYTHING by themselves .
5. Lastly, find ways to relax.
Stress (even good stress) has such a profound effect on our bodies. It affects our health in a BIG way, and makes everyday tasks more difficult. Find a way to decompress every day. There are many ways to do this, but you’ll have to find what relaxes you best. Some ideas are: meditation, a walk outside, a chat with a friend, a massage, a bath (with vino, of course), reading a good book, playing with your dog or kids, listening to music, or just doing nothing.
We all fall off track at some point, but getting yourself back is what matters. As they say, fall down 7 times, stand up 8. That is true in all aspects of life, fitness included.
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