Now Is the Perfect Time to Get Yourself Back on Track
It’s understandable that you might be having a tough time finding your focus right now.
This year has been filled with enough chaos for a lifetime.
Global Pandemic? Check.
Unstable economy? Check.
Exhausting election cycle on both sides of the aisle? Check.
Feeling like there’s no end in sight to this madness? Check and check.
No wonder it’s so challenging to stay motivated — sometimes it probably takes everything you’ve got not to run and hide until this mess is all over.
But I know that’s not truly what you want.
You want to make health a priority so you can constitute to tackle all the craziness that life throws at you. And you know that a consistent fitness routine and healthy food choices can make a huge positive impact on your mental health (and couldn’t we all use a big dose of that right now).
So how do you make it happen? How do you refocus your energy, create momentum, and get yourself and your healthy habits back on track?
Try these 5 powerful tactics to help you take control of your goals and get yourself moving in the right direction.
Get to the root of the problem.
Tell me if this sounds familiar:
You know you need to make better nutrition choices and hit the gym. So you decide you’re going to make it happen.
You jump into a strict, 7-days-a-week workout schedule. You count every calorie. And you feel like you’re unstoppable.
Only to crash and burn a few weeks later.
What gives? You have the desire to make this work. You had a strategy in place. So why do you find yourself falling back into your old habits after only a few weeks (or months)?
Chances are you jumped into fixing mode without ever addressing the root of why you were struggling to begin with.
Stop and take some time to figure out what was going on in your life when you got off track. You’ll likely start to see a pattern of triggers that caused you slip-up.
Here are a few of the most common culprits:
Stress from relationship or life changes
Frustration with a lack of “progress”
Vacations, holidays, etc.
Illness or injury
Jumping in too quickly or setting unrealistic expectations
Once you’ve identified your triggers, you can begin to develop specific strategies to help you overcome them.
For example, if you’re getting frustrated from your lack of progress, consider finding a new way to measure. Take progress pictures instead of relying on the scale. Give yourself a specific goal to meet — working up to 20 pushups or 30 minutes of running without stopping — instead of an abstract idea of getting “better”.
Your strategies don’t have to be complicated (which is also a common trigger, by the way) — clear, simple steps can help you lay the foundation to establish long-term habits.
Use what you’ve already got.
Do you feel like making meaningful change means you need to start over from scratch?
It can be easy to fall into this mindset trap when you feel like you’re out of control, but successfully changing your habits doesn’t have to require a life overhaul.
You can successfully leverage your current routines to create momentum for your goals.
Here’s what I mean. You walk in the door everyday, immediately change out of your stuffy work clothes, and put on your sweats. You’re ready to unwind and relax after a long day.
And this habit triggers the next one — sitting on the couch to watch tv or mindlessly scroll through your phone.
But what if you took that same routine — changing your clothes when you get home — and put on your workout gear instead. Now, you’ve disrupted that trigger pattern that leads to vegging out on the couch all night and primed your brain for a new trigger — getting your workout in after work.
And this simple process can be used for any of those routines you do without really thinking. Use what you’re already doing to help get yourself back on track.
Schedule your time.
I get it, you’re busy. Which is why it can be tough to find time to get your workouts in or prep your meals for the week.
And that’s your biggest problem: finding the time.
After a day full of work, running your kids all over the place, and trying to get things done at home, you’re always going to have an issue with finding a block of time to devote to your health.
So what if, instead of trying to squeeze it in somewhere, you start scheduling your workouts like a meeting.
For instance, Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays you commit to being in the gym from 6:30-7:30 a.m. Much like your daily zoom call with your team, you’re not free during those periods to schedule anything else. You’ve made it a priority and booked your time on the front end.
Now sure, there will be hang-ups from time to time. But here’s the thing — even if you happen to miss your Monday workout due to a scheduling conflict, you don’t run the risk of falling completely off track.
You already have your next workout scheduled, ready to carry on with business as usual.
Look closely at your environment.
Achieving your goals isn’t completely about your willpower (or lack thereof). Your environment can play a huge role in your long-term success or failure when it comes to reestablishing healthy habits.
A positive environment can help you keep your habits in check, even at times where you might be lacking motivation or fighting temptation.
But a poorly designed environment can set you up for failure — even with something as simple as the sights, sounds, or smells you surround yourself with.
Instead of fighting an uphill battle, you can take steps to make your environment work to your advantage.
Here are a few simple ways to prime your environment to support your habits:
If you’re looking to add early morning workouts to your routine, make getting better sleep a priority. Commit to turning off electronics an hour before bed. Read, stretch, or meditate before sleeping to promote a more restful environment.
If your morning cup of coffee helps get you up and going, program your coffee maker to start brewing 10 minutes before your alarm goes off. The smell of that cup waiting for you can help trigger you to get moving.
Pack your gym bag or lay out your workout clothes the night before, so you can get out the door as easily as possible. If you won’t be working out till later, dress in your workout clothes for the day or change as soon as you get home from work — you’re more likely to get that workout in if you’re already prepared to go.
If you have a trigger food or late-night snack that you just can’t pass up, eliminate those foods from your shopping list. You don’t have to swear-off snack foods or treats all together (which can be especially difficult if you’re shopping for a family), but don’t make things unnecessarily difficult by filling your pantry with your trigger foods.
By making subtle changes to your environment, you can help to reinforce positive behavior patterns, as well as make it easier to get back on track in the event of slip-ups.
It can be especially difficult to get your back on track — and stay there — if you don’t have anyone counting on you to show up.
Think about it. You’d never skip the school pick-up line because you just don’t feel like it. And you don’t show up each day because you’re excited to be there — you have a responsibility to your children to get them from school.
The same goes for your healthy habits.
There might be days where you’re excited to get to the gym, but there are also going to be days where you’re just not feeling it.
A workout partner can be a fail-safe when you wouldn’t be motivated enough to get there on your own. Or consider paying for a series of classes or personal training sessions — it might be a little easier to keep that appointment when you have your hard-earned money on the line.
If you’re trying to stick to a healthy meal plan, find someone to do it with you and divvy up the meal prep. That take-out will be a lot less tempting when you know someone else is counting on you for their meals, too.
Or consider keeping a food journal if you're on your own in the nutrition department. The process of writing everything down will help to establish a positive behavior trigger. Plus, you’ll be adding an extra dose of motivation to keep going when you start to see your streak of healthy food days add up.
The bottom line? You’re never too late to get back on track.
We’ve all been there — even those super fit people who seem to live at the gym with perfect bodies and superhuman willpower.
And you’re always going to have setbacks, but how you deal with them can make the difference between a bump in the road or falling completely off the wagon.
With the right preparation, you can establish healthy habits, create momentum, and set yourself up on the path to long-term success — no matter what craziness the world may throw at you next!
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