Contributed by: Michelle Baglio, RD, LD
When You Fall Off The Wagon; Get Back On!
Many of us start off the new year with wonderful intentions to achieve health, fitness, and weight-related goals. We often think of January 1 as the first blank page in the book that will chronicle our success once and for all. We make an admirable list of these intentions saying to ourselves that we’re going to stick to it without fail because we’re focused this time and nothing is going to get in the way. The year starts out well with eating healthy meals and/or making regular trips to the gym several days per week. But then something happens that throws things off. Here are some common situations that get people off the wagon and what you can do to get back on.
Snag #1: Your goals are too big and you can’t keep up with them.
You start the new year with a full regimen planned that included a complete overhaul on your food intake and daily journaling. You also want to hit the gym hard with cardio three days per week and strength training or classes three days per week, too. Then you realize a few weeks into it that you’re only journaling half of the day most of the time, you don’t feel like eating the food you planned, and you only took one class.
What you can do: Work on smaller goals that build into larger goals. That way, if other things in life get in the way, you can still achieve success. For example, make your exercise goal on the first week to do one session of strength training. Then, the next week, do one session of strength training and add a cardio session. For your food intake, maybe you start by eating a serving of vegetables at lunch and dinner at least 3 times the first week and take pictures of it. Then, the next week, increase it to 2 servings at these meals 3 times per week.
Snag #2: Your family or friends aren’t as supportive as you would like.
You’re really trying hard to stay focused, but your co-worker brings in a bunch of goodies for breakfast, your significant other encourages you to watch a movie instead of getting on your treadmill, and your friends want to go to a restaurant with no healthy choices for dinner.
What you can do: It can help to be open with family and friends about the goals you are trying to achieve. However, sometimes even the people that you love and trust the most may sabotage your efforts anyway. You can start by bringing in healthy goodies, making time for exercise and the movie, or suggest a different restaurant. If this doesn’t work, it is often helpful to have someone else in your court who can be more objective, provide advice and knowledge, and help you to stay on track, such as a registered dietitian or personal trainer.
Snag #3: You overeat at a friend’s Super Bowl party.
In fact, you actually find yourself eating a lot more than you thought you would and now feel completely miserable. You also feel like you completely failed and can’t get past the fact that your track record is now flawed. You’re now thinking of all the things you haven’t been eating and are getting cravings and ready to really go off the deep end.
What you can do: Realize that changing your habits is a process and after a few weeks or even a few months, you may still have a meal or two or more that are less than your ideal. Don’t get stuck thinking about how bad those few meals are when you’ve successfully eaten healthfully for the past week (21 meals), month (90 meals), or more. Tuck that experience in your pocket as a learning experience, move on, and eat the next meal as planned.
Snag #4: You get off your exercise routine and struggle to get back on.
Maybe it was as simple as you got sick and you really couldn’t exercise or maybe you got stuck working longer hours and couldn’t get to the gym as planned. So now you are just dragging your legs and can’t seem to find the motivation to get restarted.
What you can do: Remind yourself that you don’t have to do the same regimen you were doing before. You can start by taking a 15-minute walk instead of going to the gym for your regular cardio session. Once you get started, you may even find yourself taking a longer walk.