“I’ve got to get back to my healthy behaviors. I haven’t been as consistent this past month as I’d like, and I found one of the pounds I lost.” That was part of my conversation with my hubby earlier this week. August was an interesting month – on the plus side, we were able to spend time with three couples we absolutely love, including my bestie and her hubby. On the other side of the coin, we’ve had several sleepless nights due to a sick pup and a few 90-degree days with no air conditioning.
When we have other things going on, good or bad, it can be hard to stick with our healthy behaviors. Sometimes I think, “If I just had a solid month where I didn’t have to do anything but concentrate on my health I could really make some good progress.” Life just doesn’t work that way, though, does it?
The challenge is to find a way to keep going with the things we’re trying to do for our wellness while dealing with ‘real life.’ As we talked about in Making Room for ‘Real Life’ in Your Wellness Plan, we feel as if we have to have a perfect plan and stick to it perfectly, but that just isn’t realistic.
And sometimes, even if we’re following our plan to the tee, we don’t see any visible progress. During these times we may be tempted to just give up. So what do we do? Here are a few things that may help:
Remember Your ‘Why’.
We talked about the importance of knowing our “why” in Finding Your Why for Wellness Changes. Knowing – and reminding ourselves of – our “why” can give us the motivation to keep going. It can be hard to make healthy choices just for the sake of making healthy choices, but when we remember we’re doing it so we can get on the floor and play with our children, it makes it easier to persevere.
Change Things Up.
When it’s taking a while for us to see results, it can be hard to keep doing those same things we’ve been doing. Not only does doing the exact same thing over and over cause boredom, it can actually slow our progress. Our bodies are wonderfully adaptive, and if we do the ‘same ol’ thing’ all the time, they’ll adapt to that and we may find our progress stalls or stops.
One important note here, though — don’t try to change too many things at once. If you do, you run the risk of not being able to tell which changes are working for you. Something as simple as just cross-training (mixing things up between activities you like to do) can really help you avoid boredom and use different systems within the body.
Changing things up from time to time can provide a little ‘wake-up’ for our bodies.
Sometimes, though, continuing our new wellness behaviors gets hard because life happens. You know what I mean – we get super-busy, or someone in our household gets sick, or we have a lot of stress and just don’t have the bandwidth for one more thing. If that’s the case, sometimes the best thing we can do is….
Get Back to the Basics.
Maybe all you can do right now is the very basic things. That’s okay – just stick to the healthy habits you’ve already learned, and let that be enough for now. You may not make a lot of progress doing this, but it can keep you from going backward. And remember, since those healthy behaviors are already habits, they’re kind of like your ‘healthy lifestyle program’ running in the background. They’re benefitting you even if you’re not seeing visible results.
Occasionally things start feeling hard because we’ve been making demands on our bodies for a long period of time. Sticking with healthy behaviors, especially if they’re pretty restrictive, can cause stress on our bodies and make us just want to give up on the whole thing. If this happens, maybe you just need to take a bit of a break.
Take a Week or so for Active Recovery
When you’re feeling overworked, overstressed, or overtired by your wellness efforts, it may be time to take a little time for active recovery. This isn’t a complete break from your wellness habits — as you know, once we stop something it can be hard to get started again.
What it does mean is that you do lower levels of the things you’re already doing. For instance, rather than sticking to your regular workout schedule, you might want to take a walk or ride your bike during that time. Or with eating, if you’ve been really restrictive with your diet, you may need to ‘loosen the reins’ a little. You can still eat the healthy foods you’ve been eating, but you can give yourself permission to be a little less restrictive.
In the fitness world, we call this periodization, and we actually plan active recovery periods into our plan. It not only helps our bodies to recover from the stress we place on them, it can help us stick with our plans long-term. This can be particularly important for post-menopausal women, as we no longer have estrogen to help deal with the stress we’re putting our bodies under. Chronic stress = weight gain, among other things.
Stick With It — You’re Worth It!
There may (will almost definitely) be times when it gets hard, or when it looks as if you’re not making progress. Let me assure you that’s far from the truth. Even if you’re not seeing outward changes, if you’re being pretty consistent with your healthy behaviors, positive changes are taking place beneath the surface.
When we go through times that make it hard to stick with our healthy behaviors, it can be tempting to just give up, but I encourage you to trust the process and realize that things are going on ‘behind the scenes.’ Remembering your ‘why’, changing things up a bit, getting back to the basics, and even giving yourself a little break may be just what you need to be able to continue working toward the healthy lifestyle you want to live. Remember – it’s not about perfection; it’s about creating a healthy lifestyle long-term.
Do you ever have trouble sticking with your healthy behaviors? What have you found helpful for getting through these times? Please share!