Many people start their new year off strong, dedicated to the goals they set. In the beginning, when your willpower is strong, it's easy to make those changes for a happier, healthier and more active version of yourself.
But let's face it. Life is very rarely a smooth journey. If you live in the real world, there are plenty of road blocks and obstacles along the way. How you approach difficulty is going to make a huge difference in where you are in regards to your fitness goals a month, six months, or a year from now.
Some obstacles are foreseeable. For these, it's important to have a plan of attack. What will your biggest obstacle be? Do you struggle to find time to get in a workout? Is it difficult for you to remain consistent with your eating? Are you challenged to get enough sleep? Think about your options and write down a concrete plan in your fitness journal. You may decide to wake up early to make it to the gym before the day's obligations overwhelm you, or spend a Sunday afternoon prepping food for the week ahead. Decide to set yourself up for success by coming up with a concrete plan that will carry you through those times when willpower is fading fast.
1. Redefine healthy eating.
At EM2WL, we emphasize not viewing your life as being “on track” and “off track.” One of the greatest added benefits of fueling to lose is that you are taking in sufficient calories so you can plan for that piece of birthday cake or special date-night dinner. Special treats can and should be incorporated into any healthy eating plan. Rethink “healthy!” Your healthy eating plan should be the one that will help you to reach your goals, taking into account the challenges and obstacles that you face. Taking in sufficient calories to support your activity level and planning for consistency should be a major consideration.
We are inundated with messages and lists of foods that are “good” and “bad.” Let's be realistic though, no one can exist forever on a diet of coconut oil, kale, and chicken breast. Your healthy eating plan should be such that it accommodates real life-birthdays, holidays, date nights. Food is a part of many of our celebrations and should be enjoyed (in moderation, of course)!
It requires a major shift in your mental paradigm to accept that things we've labeled “bad”-things like sugar, carbs, and gluten can be a part of eating for your goals. Instead of focusing on eating less (or eliminating) “off-limits” foods, focus on eating more wholesome, nutrient-dense foods and allow yourself a treat when you genuinely want it.
2. Forgive yourself!
Everyone who has been successful at making health and fitness a lifestyle knows that they can't be perfect all the time. There will be times you overdo it on sweets, or miss one too many workouts. Do not beat yourself up! If you feel like you've veered off track, determine to just move on right from where you are. One or two days that are less-than-perfect are not going to spoil your long-term success, but don't let a couple bad days turn into a week or a month. There is no reason to stress out over choices you've made that are in the past, or attempt to undo the damage. Instead, review your fitness goals and your motivation for making this change. Revisit your plan and stick to it. Is there something you could do differently in the future to prevent future slip-ups? Look at these slip-ups as learning experiences to prepare you for the obstacles and challenges you will run into in the future.
3. Strive for progress, not perfection.
Perfection can be the enemy of progress. Many people look at making healthy changes with an all-or-nothing approach. Too often, a minor slip-up can lead to an all-out binge as you figure, “Oh well, I've already blown it.” Perfect adherence to your plan is nearly impossible. Instead, strive to make progress each day. In the end, you will find that small changes are more sustainable over the long-term. Consistency is essential for success.
4. Look at slip-ups as learning experiences.
Slip-ups can be a great learning tool! Not every slip-up can be prevented, and sometimes you truly need to just put the past in the past and move on. But you may be able to look at a situation and come up with a future plan of attack. Are you more prone to binge on sweets when you are overtired? Make it a point to turn off the TV an hour earlier so you can get adequate rest. Lacking motivation after work to make it to the gym? Consider waking up early to get your workout in first thing in the morning. Struggling to make healthy choices on your lunch break? Spend a Sunday afternoon doing some food prep so you can have some easy grab-and-go choices.
5. Remember, it's a marathon, not a sprint.
In our fast-paced society, its tempting to want to see quick results. Remember that you are creating healthy habits that will change your lifestyle. Be patient with yourself and be committed to trusting the process! This doesn't happen overnight. Just keep moving forward, and you will be amazed when you look back and discover the healthy habits you have established are about as second-nature as brushing your teeth!
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Becca is a busy wife and homeschooling mother to five children ages 5 to 13. About three years ago, she embarked on a journey to health and fitness that resulted in the loss of approximately 100 pounds. Today, she is a competitive powerlifter and strongwoman who loves ice cream and deadlifts. As an ISSA certified personal trainer, she is passionate about helping women to get started on a lifestyle of strength and fitness.