It’s a Beastie Boys day. I woke up with Sabotage in my head. Why? I don’t know. I can’t even remember the last time I heard that song. Am I the only one who wakes up with randomness in their head that can’t be chalked up to a dream or an alarm? At least this song fits with what I wanted to talk about today. Backsliding.
It happens to everyone at some point. You set up fitness and nutrition plans to meet your goals, and something comes up that sabotages them. I go through it periodically, like right now. Shortly after I developed a new fitness program and made some minor adjustments to my daily nutrition, I backslide because of social commitments and work.
In the last two months, I’ve hit the gym a quarter of the time I targeted and have been eating whatever was available since I was out. Instead of beating myself up over it, I had to recognize my weaknesses and get myself back on track. I know that in the summer I have a problem with chicken wings, ranch dressing, hanging out on patios and heat-related laziness. In the winter, its chicken wings, ranch dressing and hibernation from the cold. It’s not only bears that hibernate right? I can’t be the only one who trembles at the thought of going outside when it’s too cold.
The first step in overcoming backsliding is to know what is making it happen. Some of the common causes include:
- Lack of motivation
- Lack of confidence
- Discouragement with slow progress
- Problems with family or friends
- Social commitments
- Impulse eating
- Heat-related laziness and hibernation – Okay I just added these to make myself feel better. I couldn’t find evidence that they are real causes, but I’m hoping I’m not the only one that feels this way!
Some tips to beat backsliding
Find out why it happened. What caused you to backslide? For example, if boredom caused you to backslide, figure out something to do to overcome it, such as taking a walk, reading or creating an at-home spa day. When it’s the result of thought patterns, it helps if you recognize those thoughts, shut them down when they begin, and then focus on the benefits of staying on track.
Remember why you started your journey. Work through and resolve any negative feelings that are starting to become self-fulfilling prophecies. Remind yourself that even the strongest individuals can relapse.
Focus on the many benefits. Exercise is useful for a variety of reasons, including improved immunity and mood, and to relieve stress. Start paying attention to the added benefits you’re experiencing. Maybe you’ve noticed that you sleep better, or you’re not as tired when you wake up in the morning? Your cardio may have gotten better so you can walk up the stairs without getting winded.
Remove yourself from distractions. Try to extract yourself from people and places that enable you to veer off course. If you can’t completely remove them from your life while you are trying to achieve your goals (e.g. if it’s family or work), try to limit your interactions if you can. People that try to minimize or ruin your successes are probably not good for you.
Get support. Connect with your supportive friends or family members, especially when you feel like you’re about to relapse. These are people that want you to succeed and can give you the positive feedback you need to help you push through.
Get back to your plans. You started this journey for a reason, so get back to it as soon as possible. For example, if you consume too much or not enough food at dinner one day, return to healthy eating the next day. Similarly, if you missed a scheduled workout, make sure you do it the following day. If you are diligent most of the time, you can avoid a full setback. Your plan’s in place to ensure that doesn’t happen.
Get a workout inspiration buddy. Do things with friends and try to match or outlast their total participation time. Don’t measure who is stronger or faster, but establish a friendly rivalry over your commitment.
If it’s in your budget, find a personal trainer. They can help you meet your goals, get you motivated and help you avoid injury. It’s essential to find someone who will collaborate with you and won’t push you into things you aren’t capable of handling. Equally as significant is finding someone you can establish and maintain a good rapport.
Reward yourself. Give yourself encouraging feedback for your successes, especially when you initially restart your program. It can help you stay motivated.
Everyone backslides sometimes, so don’t give up! Treat it as an opportunity to learn from your mistakes and push through. What are some of the ways you use to get yourself re-motivated to exercise?