Just saw a commercial for our awesome Pittsburgh Penguins . . . “PUSH, FALL, RISE, REPEAT” What I take from that is consistency and perseverance, not perfection, is the key to long term success. You don’t have to be world class athlete to figure out that consistency is essential to making long term changes to your life, your health and your weight. Unfortunately, most of us have learned first hand, that building a consistent routine of healthy eating and regular exercise is much easier said than done.
You begin each day with the best intentions. You plan on making healthy food choices, tracking our food and attending Bootcamp, then life gets in the way. You have to work late, you (and/or the kids) are sick, you make it to the gym but realize you forgot your shoes. I used to have “dealbreakers” when my motivation was running low – not having my earphones was my big one, but there were others, basically forgetting anything that I “wanted” to have with me – socks, shoes, pre-workout, then there’s the heavy traffic that meant I was going to get to they gym a little late, so why bother going at all. This would start a chain reaction of not getting to work out, so I might as well stop and grab a pizza since the day is already a disaster. A disaster? Really? I was letting my workouts and eating habits take a nosedive anytime every little detail wasn’t perfect. I had to find a way to stay consistent even on the less than perfect days, because we all know most days are far from perfect. You tell yourself that what you really need is a break and something has to give.
When you get to that point, what “gives” is your plan to exercise and eat right. When “perfection” eludes you and you can’t do it all, the things that go undone are the things that involve only you – especially when those things aren’t your favorite things to do anyway. So now what, you still have the best intentions, and you still want to get that new routine up and running, but the execution is a challenge. How do you change this pattern of self-sabotage?
It will mean that you have to be brutally honest with yourself. What’s the harm, no one else ever has to know? I’ve learned a lot about myself by looking inward. Here are some of the things that have helped to stop sabotaging myself.
First, never listen when that little voice is whispering that you don’t feel motivated. Lack of motivation isn’t the real problem, unless you WANT to be overweight or unhealthy. Assuming you DO want to lose weight and live a healthier, more capable life, you already have all the motivation you need .
Not “feeling” like exercising, or wanting pizza instead of cooking a healthy meal doesn’t mean you’re not motivated. It just means that you want two opposing things and you have a decision to make. Letting yourself believe that you lack motivation is just a way of denying you do have a choice. It makes the problem seem out of your control and makes you feel less powerful than you really are because you have convinced yourself that you lack something you need – motivation. NOT TRUE!
Take back your power and recognize that the choice is yours. You can choose either option without any excuses or trying to justify a poor choice due to “lack of motivation”. Pay attention to how you feel about your choice – guilty, inadequate, weak – and ask yourself if you want to feel that way most of the time.
Being consistent does not mean being perfect. There will be days when circumstances arise and you decide to do something other than sticking to your exercise and healthy food routine, and that’s fine. Being consistent is recognizing that most of the time, you have the power to choose. It will probably require to make changes you would rather not make, but you need to decide what you really want.
Second, build your momentum one step at a time. Think of a snowball rolling down a hill, it starts out small and barely moving, but as it picks up speed it gets bigger, and the bigger it gets, the faster it goes and before long, the real challenge becomes stopping it. One good choice (success) leads to another, the positive momentum grows and makes the next choice easier, until you realize your not even giving yourself the opportunity to make a bad choice.
It’s never easy changing old habits or starting new routines. Common belief is that it takes 21 days to develop a new habit, but studies have shown that more accurately, it takes AT LEAST 21 days to form a new habit and probably longer. Don’t put x’s on your calendar like it’s 21 days til Christmas hoping to wake up the morning of the 21st day with all your difficult choices behind you. Attack every day aware that you will have to work diligently – even when you don’t feel like it.
Build your momentum every day, small and slow at first. Once you start moving, staying in motion and picking up speed will be easier, until you are unstoppable and ready to bulldoze anything in your path. You’ll start thinking of solutions to problems that you previously thought were game killers. Start with changes that will be easy – drink more water and less high calorie beverages or diet soda, then replace white bread with whole wheat bread, get to 3 Bootcamp classes a week, or if you can’t find a way to exercise where you are. By simply replacing one bad habit with one good habit (no matter how small) will eventually lead you to a new routine.
Find an accountability partner (“excuse buster”) – someone who knows your goals, or better yet, who SHARES those goals. Someone who will push when you want to slack off. For me it’s always harder to let other people down than it is to let myself off the hook. Run your excuses or justifications for skipping a workout or blowing your meal plan past your excuse buster and ask for their honest opinion. Once I hear myself say things out loud to another person, I can usually find the loopholes without them ever saying a single word.
Third, always have a Plan B (and C, and D . . . ) For days when your foolproof plan isn’t as perfect as you thought, have a Plan B ready to implement BEFORE you need it. Having a backup plan(s) gives you alternatives for staying consistent to your goals. Life is unpredictable and complicated, and you won’t be able to foresee every speed bump or roadblock, but there are problems that seem to have a recurring theme – sick kid, extra hours at work, days when you don’t feel energetic. These unpleasant surprises don’t have to derail you if you plan ahead. Have a friend or family member lined up to watch the kids, prepare healthy meals ahead of time and freeze them for days when you are short on time, keep your exercise clothes (or an extra pair of shoes unless you like working out barefoot – inside joke) in your car so you can change at the gym if you have to. As for a lack of energy, just show up for Legendary Bootcamp and that will take care of itself.
Take the time to identify the most common problems that disrupt your fitness routine and have a backup plan ready to implement so you don’t have to sacrifice your new healthy routine. If planning a whole week is overwhelming then take it one day at a time, or even one meal or workout at a time. Look for ways to succeed, not for excuses to fail, take some of the lemons life throws at you and make some yummy and healthy lemonade.
Lastly, and most critical – NEVER QUIT! One bad choice does not mean that you have failed. Consistency is built slowly over time, one success leads to another, and another, until your new healthy lifestyle is a habit that you don’t even have to think about. You most likely decided to take on this journey of better health for yourself and those who matter most to you, do everything in your power to succeed and keep trying until you do!
PUSH, FALL, RISE, REPEAT!!!!