It’s late. You’ve just had a hell of a day juggling your job, kids, expectations and never really being able to step away from your inbox because you have a smartphone. You finally make it home after a 90-minute commute that’s really only 25 minutes without traffic, open your fridge to a plethora of healthy green food choices and think:
Then you order a pizza.
This scenario, or one like it, plays out every week with people trying their best to change their health and fitness habits. No matter how motivated we are in the morning, we can get driven to the edge by life and lose touch with why we’re on this crazy journey in the first place. Or sometimes it’s frustration with what we perceive as a lack of results. But no matter what kind of ledge you’re on, there are ways to get back onto the path you started. Here are just a few that have worked for my clients.
Enjoy that pizza. No really. The choice was made. Now it’s time to move forward. So throw out those leftovers and get back on track as soon as possible. A few slices will not ruin your lifetime of health and fitness, but the longer you nurse that case of the “screw its,” the longer you delay success. So enjoy the indulgence! And use this as an opportunity to learn how you can bounce back even faster.
Make a fallback plan. Almost every Thursday, my clients write their fallback plan for the weekend. While you’re in a good mood, before you come across the “screw its,” sit down and think about what the minimum-minimum is—what’s the ONE THING you need to do to feel like you’re still on track? Is it eating vegetables? Drinking water between adult beverages? Doing 10 push-ups?
Be realistic. Any healthy choice is still moving forward. Now write down your fallback plan, or take a picture of it on your phone so you’ll remember it just before the “screw its” happen.
Ask yourself, “What have I done well? What have I learned?” Most of us get fixed on outcomes. Weight. Sizes. Results. But evidence from 40 years of motivation research has shown that focus on the process rather than the outcome leads to better results. So when you’re feeling discouraged, take an honest self-assessment. What have you learned? What’s gotten easier? And what are you doing well that will help you for a lifetime?
Remind yourself that no weight-loss journey is linear. There’s always plateaus. Always, always. Even for you. Yes, you. You will have plateaus. If I sound redundant it’s because no one thinks this applies to them. But the people who successfully lose weight and keep it off are the ones who keep going. Like Winston Churchill said, “If you’re going through hell, keep going!”
Tell someone what you’re thinking. Eighty percent of my job is showing up and listening, which you don’t really need training to do. Seek out a friend or a forum and let people know what you’re thinking. Most of the time just saying stuff out loud to people you know are sharing your struggle is enough to see things in a different light.
Remember that the average American gains a pound a year. So even maintaining your weight means you’re above average!