So, you are starting out a new week, laying in bed with your eyes still closed, sunlight coming through the window, rested and ready to go. And then you remember. Yesterday, I ate a whole pizza. Or had two scoops of ice cream instead of one on your cone. Or a giant double bacon cheeseburger. With fries. Or all of the above.
The sense of hopelessness, guilt, remorse and frustration that precedes the “Well, since I already blew it…” thought that sticks in our minds as we reach for that next unhealthy choice, or resolve to skip the gym – AGAIN, is a feeling that many of us are all too familiar with. How do you get back on track? How do you recover after you’ve over indulged for a meal or three, skipped a few workouts, or even completely gave up on your healthy lifestyle goals entirely for a few months?
One step at a time.
Choice and Consequences
Acknowledge the choices that you have made that have taken you farther away from your goals, and acknowledge that it’s OK. No amount of guilt, negative self-talk is going to change the past. You have no control over what has already happened. But you have complete and total control over what you do from this second forward. Every new day, new hour, even new minute is an opportunity to start moving forward towards your goals again. I’m sure everyone has long-term goals, but what are your short-term goals? As you sit and think about the distance between where you are now, and where you want to be, have you established small, attainable victories along that path?
Set Realistic Goals
One of the best motivators in returning to a healthy diet and fitness routine is the feeling of accomplishment and empowerment that accompanies successfully completing a goal. If your long-term goals are numbers-oriented, focus on the small stuff…resolve to lose 5 pounds this month instead of 50 this year. If you’re more focused physical progress, pick something you can measure. If you currently run a mile in 12 minutes, give yourself a month to try and make it in 10. If running a mile isn’t even something you think you’re capable of right now…think of how proud you’ll feel if, after three weeks of dedicated walking and interval jogging, you’re finally able to make it the full mile!
Or perhaps, in the beginning, make your goals even more attainable by making them day-by-day goals. For example, if you can’t break the fast-food habit, decide today that instead of going through the drive through twice, you’ll only go once. Every time you say “No,” it gets a little bit easier. Maybe next week you’ll only sit in that drive-through line on three days instead of five. Maybe next month you’ll only visit that fast food stop twice total. You can do it!
Setbacks occur. A life without chocolate, red wine and the occasional slice of pizza is not a life. And taking a day, week or even a month off from your journey towards a healthier lifestyle doesn’t make you a failure. It does not make you a bad person. It does NOT mean that you’re not a strong, capable individual. It just means that you took a break, and now it’s time to get back on track again.
Remember that your health, fitness and nutrition goals should be a part of your life, but they should not dictate your life. Every morning, when you first feel that sunlight hit your eyelids and your mind begins to stir back into wakefulness, leave yesterday behind, grab an healthy snack, go for a walk, and decide to make today a day that brings you one small step closer to where you want to be.