Some people think that trainers have this built-in iron-clad motivation, but it’s just not true. We’re human too. We lose motivation. We fall off our plans. We make poor choices. We miss workouts. It’s a fact. It’s never about what you know; it’s always about what you do.
Yes, trainers usually enjoy working out, that’s why we made a career of it after all. We still can struggle with a lapse in motivation, just like you.
I’ve had a rough couple of weeks. It started with the time change, and then the weather turned colder. The stress at my part-time marketing job is growing exponentially. It gets dark early now. I’m exhausted. Then Thanksgiving rolled around, and my diet got off track. Ever notice how hard it can be to build healthy habits, but for some reason, bad habits catch on quickly?
I am not telling you all this to make excuses or complain about how hard my life is (it’s not), but as a reminder that these kinds of struggles are part of being a human. It’s not just you.
I’ve spent a long time overcoming the all-or-nothing mindset, and over the last several years have found success with a balanced approach to healthy living. Balance has taught me not to beat myself up when I am struggling, but to give myself grace, to try to make healthier choices, and look for the lessons in every struggle.
Feeling bad about yourself over bad choices isn’t the solution. If beating yourself up was an effective strategy for getting back on track we’d all be walking around with six pack abs. Self-loathing only makes it worse. We have to do the best we can with what we have. We don’t have to be perfect; we can start making better choices whenever possible, keeping in mind that movement and whole food nutrition are the paths to feeling better.
ARE THERE ANY BENEFITS TO GETTING OFF TRACK?
If poor choices have snowballed into something that feels out of control, accept it for it is, know that it’s temporary, and look for the lessons and benefits of the situation. What can we learn?
EMBRACE THE BREAK
Sometimes our bodies and minds need a break. If It seems like you’ve fallen off a healthy-living cliff, it may just be communication from your body that you needed a break. We can’t go at 100% all the time; we’ll eventually break. Embrace the current situation as a natural ebb and flow of life, with full knowledge that you’ll be back to making healthier decisions as soon as you’re able. Look at it as a temporary break, and start making the smallest healthier choices that bring out your best self.
FOR THE GAINZ
You’ll likely gain muscle when you strength train in a calorie surplus. If you are usually in a deficit by consuming fewer calories than you burn, the extra calories can be beneficial for building muscle. Muscle burns more calories at rest than fat, so the more muscle tissue you carry around, the higher your metabolism, which means you burn more calories at rest.
A boost in energy intake (calories) can have a positive effect on your workouts. If you’ve not been eating as well as you’d like, hit the gym (or the pavement) to make the best of the situation. It’s not about exercising as punishment, but to take advantage of the calorie surplus. While of course, it would be better to have an excess of healthy calories, for now, we’re merely making the best of our current situation.
FOR THE LESSONS
What can you learn from the situation? I’ve learned that eating processed foods, eating out at restaurants too often and drinking wine on a regular basis generally makes me feel bad, both physically and emotionally. I already knew that when I make poor choices or skip too many workouts, it directly affects my mood, but honestly, sometimes I forget.
When I’m feeling good for an extended period, it’s easy to forget about the direct connection between my well-being and my lifestyle choices. When I feel bad, it’s a not-so-friendly reminder of why healthy living is so important. I wouldn’t make bad decisions on purpose for this lesson, but since I don’t feel as well as I know I could, this reminds me why. Notice the connection between what you eat and how you feel. It’s fuel to make healthier decisions down the road.
I struggle with mild anxiety and depression; I say mild because it is manageable with a healthy diet and exercise. When I am taking care of myself, it’s not an issue at all. But when I get off track, my mind gets off track too. I can quickly go from feeling great to feeling defeated and overwhelmed when life’s circumstances haven’t changed.
It’s also a reminder that poor choices can snowball. You don’t feel well because you missed a workout and ate junk food, then you eat junk food and miss a workout because you don’t feel well. Can you relate?
Of course, none of this should be used as a rationalization to continue to make poor choices, but if you’ve fallen off track, it can be a silver lining in the situation, to allow yourself some compassion while you work to make better choices to feel better all around.
There are no failures, only lessons. What can we learn? Then how can we use what we learned to improve in the future? What one small healthy choice can we make today that was better than yesterday? It doesn’t matter how often we get off track; it’s about how quickly we can get back on. Life happens. Forgive yourself. Trust that’s it temporary and work towards making tomorrow better than today.
Don’t wait until the new year to start improving. Anything worth pursuing in January, can be started today. Check out my nine-week holiday challenge for healthy habits that you can start working on now.
Can you relate?
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