January seems so long ago.
High off the fumes of your New Year’s resolutions, you stormed into the gym January 1 determined to make this year your year. You committed to working out five times a week, and you swore off carbs. You broke the bank on a new athleisure wardrobe. And you documented every minute of your fitness resurrection in your Instagram story (gym selfie!).
Now, fast forward to July. You’ve fallen off the wellness bandwagon. You’re so far gone that only the crumbs from all those carbs you swore off can lead you back to the path. Your new workout gear has become your Saturday errand clothing. The gym called to make sure you were still alive. And your IG story is like your personal version of Chef’s Table. What happened?
As it turns out, losing your way with fitness and nutrition is common. As per U.S. News and World Report, roughly 80 percent of Americans drop their health resolutions by the second week of February. CBS News calls it the “fitness cliff”. And even if your fitness goals weren’t tied to a resolution, the odds of failure are stacked against you. So, it’s not entirely your fault. We’re all wired that way. But you need a plan to bounce back with a vengeance.
Revisit Your Goals
There’s no point in climbing back on the bandwagon if you don’t know where you’re headed. Think about why you decided to focus on wellness in the first place. Did your doctor issue a stern warning about your health? Do you want to look better naked? Are you gearing up for an Ironman competition? Whatever the goal is, revisit it. And, envision it. Back in January, that goal was compelling enough to get you going. Odds are, if you take a moment to remember why you started, it’ll be enough to get you back on track.
Progress is not linear, especially when it comes to wellness. A failure here and there is part of the journey. “If you look at a setback as part of a learning process, then you can examine what went wrong and come up with beneficial changes that will help you be successful on the next attempt,” said Carl Sheperis, a dean at the College of Social Sciences at University of Phoenix, in an interview with the Seattle Times. You may have fallen off the wagon, but it’s not a permanent change. Dust yourself off, pull on your running tights, load your plate with kale, and gear up for take two.
Retrace Your Steps
When you lose your keys, the first thing you do is retrace your steps. That nifty trick usually works. Who says it can’t help in a more abstract circumstance? There was a point when you decided to abandon your diet or skip your workouts. Take some time to think about why you made those decisions. Maybe your work schedule was intense and you had to make space for some big projects? Or you indulged on vacation and lost your momentum? Identify that moment and figure out what triggered it. If you can pinpoint the cause of your detour, you can safeguard your new plan against those same distractions.
Ask for Help
Though you may have singlehandedly chosen your goals, it doesn’t mean you have to work alone. Enlist the services of a trainer to learn the fitness fundamentals and maintain a regular workout schedule. Your trainer will push you during your workouts and hold you accountable. If diet is your biggest concern, start seeing a dietitian. And talk to everyone around you—family, friends, your partner or spouse. Let them know what your goals are and what sacrifices you need to make to get there. Without knowing, they can easily become roadblocks to your goals. But armed with knowledge of your plans, they can be your cheerleaders.
Use Smaller Goals
Sometimes, the push for more isn’t always the right path. Rice University professor Scott Sonenshein’s book, Stretch: Unlock the Power of Less—and Achieve More Than You Ever Imagined, favors setting smaller goals. Instead of losing twenty pounds, perhaps your goal is to eat less carbs or learn the basics of good nutrition. By focusing on a less aggressive goal, you rack up small wins in quick succession. And those wins push you toward your original goal. If you learn about nutrition, you’ll be armed with the knowledge you need to lose weight.
Don’t Compare Yourself
Everyone has that one Facebook friend that’s crushing it. He was just promoted, has an amazing boyfriend, and just lost his twentieth pound. You want to celebrate him, but you also secretly hate him. His success serves as a reminder of your mistakes. But don’t compare yourself to him. You’re both leading different lives, and you have different bodies and genetics. Your journey will be different, and you must learn to appreciate that. Celebrate his awesomeness because you’ll want people to root for you when you hit your target.
Maintaining your spot on the wellness bandwagon is tough. But if you adjust your outlook and keep your goals grounded in reality, you’ll have no problem succeeding.