How many times have you “signed yourself up” for a diet program, exercise program, or new gym membership? How many times have you gotten partway through your commitment and thought- “Ugh! Why did I commit to this whole thing?” Had your commitment to a new program suddenly added more stress and pressure into your life? Did you even feel good about your health during your commitment, or were you dragging yourself along? If this applies to you, let me tell you something… you are not alone!
Very recently, I wasn’t being consistent in the healthy habits I had been working hard to maintain. I wanted to feel good again, so I “signed myself up” for a month-long commitment to a food program. By Day #12, I was bloated from my 7th serving of raw vegetables, and by Day #14, I was dreaming of cupcakes and pieces of pizza.
I had done this month-long commitment before and had actually really enjoyed the process. The first time I did it, I felt excited, motivated, and inspired by the results I was seeing. I was looking for a big change in my lifestyle and appreciated the rigor and intensity the program offered.
This time around- hoping for similar results- I was caught off guard by how differently I felt going through the program. Two weeks in, I couldn’t take it anymore, and I caved on Nutella dipped apples and locally brewed beer. I immediately began to feel defeat, failure, and complete lack of control over my eating.
BUT… at the same time, I also felt conflicting, positive emotions. I felt enjoyment and excitement over the food I was eating. I was at a wedding in Asheville, NC and was savoring all of the food and drinks in the company of friends and family while we celebrated the soon-to-be husband and wife!
The power-play between these two sets of emotions was making me confused. Was I supposed to be feeling bad that I veered off the program? Or was it okay for me to stop and savor the food I was eating? Which one was it?
I took some time to sit with these thoughts and came to realize a few things.
The 30-day commitment I signed myself up for was exactly what I needed in the past, when I was looking for a big change in my life, and a big program to commit to. This same program wasn’t serving me at THIS point of time. This time around, two weeks of mindfulness with my eating was exactly what my body needed in order to feel “back to base”. Despite all of the bloating and abdominal pain and distention, I continued to trudge painfully, and stressfully onward. My body was sending me “knock it off!” signals to get me to stop and listen.
Which lead me to my next realization:
Figure out what you need.
Find a solution relative to the degree of change you’re looking for. If you feel like you need to really tighten the apron strings, hone in on your eating habits, and make some BIG changes, then by ALL MEANS, go for it! Grab a friend, invest in a trainer, or commit to a big program. However, if you’re looking to tweak a few things here and there to get back into your groove (perhaps before/ after a holiday or vacation), be sure to find a solution relative to the degree of change you’re looking for. Perhaps all your body needs is a week or two to reset. Listen to your body and hear when it tells you that it’s back in the groove and in balance, feeling good.
Perhaps you were interested in starting a new program or exercise routine. You gave it a whirl, but you really weren’t feeling it. You were no longer excited about the program and you were spending more time trying to convince and drag your body to the workouts than truly, actually enjoying it!
Stop and try something different! Experiment with different programs or exercise routines that get you excited! Be introspective during this process. What part of the programs worked for you? What parts didn’t? How come?
If the changes you are making are causing more stress than benefit in your life, reflect on that. A great example is, again, on exercise programs. If you’re in a rut and can’t find the motivation to exercise, or you suddenly lack the excitement and drive to continue with your current gym membership or workout program, this is your body’s way of telling you to try something different.
Maybe it’s not the workout itself, but the feeling of lack of community with your gym, class, or instructor. Or, maybe it’s time for a break from exercise altogether for a bit. Make the tweaks you need until you feel like your stress levels are in check, you’re excited about your new changes, and you’re recharged and motivated!
Ok, here we go. This one is my favorite…
Cut yourself some slack!
Never think of the tweaks you make to your lifestyle habits as failures.
YOU are defining YOURSELF.
When you need to change directions in your eating and exercise routines, you are listening to what your body needs and are keeping yourself in balance. You are relieving stress. You are bettering your body. You are re-energizing your motivation and self-accountability.
You are doing GREAT, and you’ve got this! Keep going!