It’s never too late to restart your healthy lifestyle.
It’s a common story.
You worked hard to get your priorities organized and finally found a way to be consistent with exercise. You were feeling strong, making time for yourself, and had even started eating healthier (and enjoying it). It seemed like you had actually gotten this healthy lifestyle thing figured out…until something happened.
Maybe you lost your job or a family member got sick. Maybe you moved to a new city or something as unlikely as a worldwide pandemic hit. Maybe it was a mix of these things or another equally-challenging scenario. Whatever it was, you found yourself faced with too many new and overwhelming things to deal with and something had to give.
As we navigate through life, obstacles, big and small, will always be there to pull us off course – and that can feel incredibly frustrating. But these hiccups don’t make us failures, they make us human, and it’s in moments like this that we have a choice: throw in the towel and close that chapter of our healthy lives, or look for small ways to overcome these challenges and re-engage the journey we worked so hard to start.
If you’re ready to choose option two, here are four strategies you can use to get back on track right now.
1. Reflect on what happened
They say that hindsight’s 20/20, but only when we take the time to turn around and reflect on our experiences.
Anytime we fall off track from doing the things we want to do – eating better, going to the gym, practicing mindfulness – it’s an opportunity to gain valuable insight into ourselves. By understanding our triggers and how we respond to stress, we can anticipate where we might stumble in the future and look for ways to build resilience within these situations.
What you can do:
Start by acknowledging that you got off track, accept that it happens sometimes, and make the choice to start again without wallowing in blame. Then take a moment to look back on the scenario from an objective standpoint.
What triggered you to veer off track in the first place and how did you respond to these obstacles? Maybe there was one big event that happened unexpectedly (ie. COVID), or maybe it was an accumulation of small changes happening over time. Maybe you noticed yourself withdrawing from family and friends as you became overwhelmed or overeating to cope with the stress.
Some good questions to ask yourself to gain clarity here may include:
- What changes happened in my life in the days, weeks and months leading up to the break?
- How did I respond to these changes and how might I recognize this type of response in the future?
When you understand the trigger/response relationship, you can use that information to create a cheat-sheet for yourself that will help you recognize when you might be at risk of falling off track again in the future.
2. Reset your expectations
When you’re ready to restart your healthy habits, it may be tempting to try and pick up where you left off but this isn’t necessarily the best approach.
Habits, even ones that you had previously mastered, take time to build and it’s important to recognize that things may need to look a little different now. Cues that used to work to anchor your habits may no longer be relevant, and you might need to realign your values to move your self-care higher up your priorities list.
What you can do:
Recognize where you’re starting from and what limitations might now be in place that weren’t previously there. Then commit to starting again, small.
If you used to meditate 30 minutes a day, set the bar at 10 for the first few weeks. If you used to workout 5 days a week, kick it down to 2 or 3 until you know that this is achievable. Whatever brings your hurdle back to an achievable level is a smart way to start the process back up and set yourself up for success.
3. Create space in your day
Choosing a small, manageable task is a great place to start, but it’s only half the equation. Not only do you need an appropriately-sized goal, you also need to manage your environment to ensure you have the capacity for that habit to actually happen.
Find ways to reorganize your daily life to make things more efficient and free up time to focus on the most important person in the room: yourself.
What you can do:
Look for simple ways to remove obstacles that previously would have stopped you from staying on track. Some great options to create a little more space in your day could include:
- Grocery shopping online
- Hiring a house cleaning service
- Scheduling out your week in advance
- Meal prepping
4. Just start
We waste so much time focusing on things that are holding us back and coming up with excuses as to why now isn’t the right time. “I’m too busy. I don’t have the right resources. I’ve failed at this in the past. I’m not sure what to do. I feel uncomfortable and stupid.”
When, instead, we should be thinking: “I can work with this.”
The fact is that many of us start in the same place – no time, no resources, no experience – but when we choose to get started anyway…to feel uncomfortable, to not do it perfectly, to find ways to make even the smallest bit of progress…that’s when we start down the road of creating real change.
What you can do:
Shift your focus from what is withheld from you to what is available to you. Ask yourself throughout the day:
- What can I do right here, right now, to take a tiny step closer to my goal?
Then, whatever the answer is, do it. As you read this, can you stand up and sit down from your chair 10 times? If yes, then do it. Like seriously right now…we’ll wait.
You might not like where you have to start. Your progress might be slow and unexciting. But you can work with this.
Get back on track with online personal training
If you’re ready to get back into exercise, connect with us to see how we can create a personalized online plan to help you feel your best as you revisit your healthy journey.