Heard This Before?
Let’s take a look at a few different scenarios, some I’m sure you’ve faced at some point in your life…
You get home after a long day at work. Meals during the day were ok, but not the greatest. You’re mentally exhausted and physical fatigue REALLY sets in once you walk through the door. That little hope you had of exercising (of course that’s what you told yourself in the morning...I’ll wait until I get home) is just a faint memory as you lounge on the couch. Maybe with some snacks or desserts. After a few shows, you hit the bed. Rinse and repeat for tomorrow.
Here it is, the perfect time to start. Your motivation is through the roof and nothing is going to stop you from working out and eating healthy foods. But wait...you check the calendar. Work dinner party, wedding, vacation, and your birthday all within a couple of months. ‘Should I just hold off and wait until things calm down?’ you ask yourself. ‘It WILL make things easier and I can actually enjoy my time at these events.’ So a few months pass, you indulge and enjoy. Alright, now is the perfect time. Oh but wait, now it’s busy season at work and the holidays will be coming up soon. ‘Maybe I’ll just wait until the New Year...my New Years resolution!’ ….And the vicious cycle continues.
‘I’m doing it, I’m finally doing it! I have a great exercise plan in place, I’m eating all the healthy foods, and starting to see results. This isn’t so bad!’ But then you miss a day after an important deadline came up at work. Then a few days, then a week. Uh oh, a snag in your ‘perfect’ plan. ‘I’m not used to this’ you say. ‘I’ve done so well up until this point and haven’t missed a meal or a day at the gym.’ ‘My plan has now gone to shit and there’s no way I can get back on track’ From there you decide that this exercise and nutrition thing is too difficult to maintain, so you go back to old habits. All that progress you made? Gone and you’re right back where you started.
Sound familiar? Maybe you’ve gone through one or all of these scenarios at some point in your life. They’re common and I’ve experienced them personally and see them everyday professionally. But how do you break the cycle? How do you make health and fitness a priority and part of your lifestyle? Well, that’s what we will cover today. Below are some tips to help make this stuff stick for the long term.
How Does This Start in the First Place?
As I’m sure you’ve experienced, there is usually some type of fitness related thought or goal that you have in mind (lose weight, gain muscle, get toned, etc.), so you go to the drawing board. You do tons of research, scour every blog, YouTube channel, and post you can find. Heck, maybe you even hire a professional. You devise the perfect plan and routine. Time to get started.
Now as in scenario 1, you might not even get started. Who wants to exercise or exhaust themselves more after a long, taxing day at work? No thank you. Scenario 2 is similar in the sense that you never actually execute the plan, but it’s less from the day to day grind (still a factor), and more to do with big events coming up. No way that plan can actually happen with everything going on! And finally scenario 3, you start that plan. You do well. Days, weeks, maybe even months pass and you’re doing great. Sticking to the plan 100%, nothing going wrong. But all of a sudden something comes up. You miss a day, then 2, then a week. Shoot! You didn’t plan or set a buffer for that. The perfect plan is ruined. ‘No reason to keep going’ and you end up quitting it all together.
What do all of these scenarios have in common? Number one is the expectation of perfection. All or nothing thinking. If it’s not 100%, then it might as well be 0%. Call it whatever you want, but this is a huge factor when it comes to sticking with this health and fitness stuff.
And what starts that type of thinking? How you set your initial expectations...As you’re setting up your plan or researching, do you plan for the unexpected? Do you give yourself any leeway? If not, then you’re almost destined to fail...
How to Shift Your Mindset to Change for the Long Term?
So now you’re at a point where you want to change, but you’re tired of the short term fixes that fizzle out after they lose their initial excitement. The rinse and repeat programs. The start and stop after a few months way of life.
A big factor in reaping the benefits of exercise and nutrition is staying consistent and making this part of your lifestyle. Making it a priority should be a goal for EVERYONE, but if you’re set up for failure or never see results, why would you want to continue? Failure sucks, I get that, but it shouldn’t be a deterrent from continuing to implement exercise regularly. So what’s a better strategy for long term success?
Here are 3 tips for making health and fitness a part of your lifestyle for the long haul:
Reframe your expectations
My number one piece of advice is to realistically set your expectations. This way if something goes awry or you don’t stick to your program 100%, it’s no big deal and you continue as if nothing happened.
Now this will be very individualized, but one tip would be to scale everything on a continuum (0-100). You have one end where everything is exactly how you want it to be (100) and the other end where everything goes wrong and it’s worst case scenario (0). Your goal each day is to inch away from 0, whether that be 1 or 99, it’s still better than 0.
This allows for a buffer and even if it’s just the quickest workout or one healthy snack during the day, you can count that as a success and keep trending toward your end goal.
Action (ideally consistent action) is ALWAYS better than no action at all. More than likely something else will be on the schedule (work, kids, friends, etc.), but that shouldn’t stop you from taking action towards your health and fitness. Does your program say 60 minutes, but you only have 20? Cut your workout down to 20 minutes. Need to stay home because of a crazy day? A quick at home workout will do. Whatever the scenario, don’t overthink it and do something!
Setting yourself up for success is crucial when it comes to sticking with a routine for the long term. There are plenty of days where I don’t want to do anything, but I’ve prepared enough around me that it’s almost automatic. I like to call these positive triggers.
Lay out your workout clothes the night before. Go to a specific part of the house where it’s easier to think about exercise (for me it’s the basement where all the workout stuff is located). Preload emails or reminders on your phone so that you always have it front of mind.
And what’s pretty cool is that one trigger usually leads to positive momentum. Don’t feel like doing anything? ‘Let’s just put on my gym shoes and see what happens. Oh, well I’ve already started, let’s just go for a 5 minute walk, then I’ll come back. This actually feels pretty good, let’s go for 20.’ And the positive momentum continues. But that all starts from that initial positive trigger.
Hopefully these tips allow you to reframe how you view this health and fitness stuff. The funny thing about life is that it is unpredictable and things happen. There will never be a ‘perfect’ time and you’re fooling yourself if you think there will be. But set your expectations appropriately, take action, and plan for positive momentum and I almost guarantee you’ll have success. Plus, the process won’t feel overwhelming and you won’t feel guilty for not adhering 100%, since it will blend in with your lifestyle. Try it out and you’ll be surprised and how well you do.
And if you’re completely lost or struggle with sticking to a routine and need some guidance, fill out the form below and I would love to chat with you.