We’ve all been there. We make a plan to get back on track with our fitness and eating habits and all is going well, but then, something happens:
your kid gets sick
your husband/wife gets sick
then you get sick
you have to travel for work
you have to stay late at work
you hurt your back
you have to go out of town for a wedding
you have to make (ok, buy) cupcakes for a school event
you have a lunch meeting or work dinner
your alarm didn’t go off
Aurgh. Why does life always get in the way?
The mistake people make is that they give in and tell themselves that they’ll start over when like calms down; But spoiler alert, life will always be crazy. You’ll be waiting forever if you wait for life to stop getting in the way.
The key is to expect obstacles and learn to overcome or work around them. Do the best you can.
Living a healthy lifestyle is not about living all the time perfectly, but instead about making the best possible choices despite your crazy life. My definition of a healthy lifestyle is doing the best you can with what is reasonably available to you at the moment; It’s not eating “clean” and exercising for an hour a day.
Learning to live a healthy lifestyle around your crazy life, instead of expecting a perfect life with no obstacles is the first step to success.
WHAT ARE YOUR LIMITING FACTORS?
A limiting factor is something that stops you from succeeding. Think about it. If you’ve ever tried to get healthy or lose weight or improve your workout performance and failed (raises hand) think about what stopped you?
It is harder than I expected
It takes more time than I expected
I don’t have time to grocery shop
I don’t have time to meal prep
I have too many social/family commitments
I don’t know how (or don’t want) to cook
I have a crazy work schedule
My family won’t eat healthy foods
I don’t like vegetables
Healthy food tastes boring
My husband/wife/teenager buys junk food and leaves it around the house
I don’t know where to start
I’m not the one who does the grocery shopping
I don’t believe I can do it, I’ve tried before and failed
My friends pressure me to eat unhealthy foods or drink
I can’t get up early to exercise
There are so many mixed messages about nutrition; I don’t know what to believe/follow
I can’t find time to exercise
I have pain that keeps me from exercising
I don’t have any social support
I get bored easily
I have trouble staying consistent
I don’t sleep well at night
Do any of these sound familiar? These are some of the limiting factors that people forget about when they make big goals to change their lives for the better, then they are surprised and discouraged when they come up. You’re not alone; it is a part of life. These are common obstacles that most people face.
IDENTIFY YOUR LIMITING FACTORS
Review the list (or create your own) and write down any limiting factors that you can think of that you know you have encountered in the past or can expect in the future.
Look ahead: Are there any planned events in the coming year that may hold you back from progressing? Are there any particular family, friends, social obligations, work requirements, or other responsibilities that are known saboteurs?
Managing expectations is the next step. You don’t have to be perfect, but you can identify the known obstacles and make a plan to work around them.
EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED / LEARN TO FAIL BETTER
Life will never be perfect. You could move to a weight loss ranch where you have access to a personal chef who prepares healthy meals, a personal trainer who guides your workouts for hours a day, and a curfew to make sure you sleep at least eight hours per night. You would probably see results, but what does that teach you about living healthily in the real world? Nothing.
If you go into it knowing things are going to go wrong, that you will fail and make mistakes and there is no expectation of being perfect, you’ll have a more enjoyable and sustainable experience.
When things go wrong, identify what went wrong and spend time reflecting on how you can avoid a similar situation in the future. We will never be perfect; we can only strive for better than before. Failing and learning is the path to success.
It’s not about how often we fail, but how quickly we learn and move on.
ACCEPT RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOUR ACTIONS
It may seem like it’s everyone else’s fault that you can’t stay on track. If your husband would stop buying ice-cream, your kids didn’t need two dozen cupcakes for school, your boss wouldn’t have ordered pizza for a working lunch, and if it weren’t Janet’s birthday, you would have stuck to your plans.
We can’t control what other people do, but we can manage our own behaviors and expectations. We can always blame others for our lack of success (victim mentality), or we can take full responsibility and learn from our mistakes to make a better plan for the future.
FOCUS ON BEHAVIORS NOT OUTCOMES
If you want to lose 30 pounds, instead of obsessing about the number on the scale, focus on the daily behaviors that will get you there. Start small:
Bring a healthy lunch to work
Prepare healthy dinners at home instead of eating out
Exercise for at least 15 minutes per day, five days a week
Keep track of the number of days in a row that you achieve your behavior goals, and try not to miss any days. Focus on the achievement of daily behavior goals and your desired outcome will be a side effect.
CREATE A BEHAVIOR GOAL
Once you have identified three to five of your biggest limiting factors, create behavior goals that will directly affect that limiting factor. What can you do to overcome that limiting factor?
If you don’t cook, a behavior goal may be to order from a healthy meal delivery service or buy pre-cooked healthy meats and frozen vegetables from the grocery store.
If you don’t have time to prepare meals, a behavior goal may be to prep some healthy meals on the weekend so that you have easily accessible healthy options during the week.
If your family tempts you with unhealthy foods in the house, have a conversation with them about your goals, but ultimately you are responsible for your actions. Try having a junk food shelf or drawer that keeps those foods out of sight, or buying healthier snacks to have on hand for yourself, so you don’t feel deprived.
If your friends pressure you to make poor choices, have a conversation with them about why your goals are important to you and also make an effort to find some new friends that share your healthy outlook: join a social run club, class at the gym, or a online group for like-minded friends.
I don’t have all the answers for you. It’s your behaviors that will take you closer or further away from your goals. Take the time to think about what has been holding you back, then create a game plan of behavior changes to overcome them.
DON’T JUST READ: TAKE ACTION
What are the limiting factors that are holding you back from achieving your goals?
What specific behavior can you change to overcome them?
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