It has been said that the best part of getting healthy is the journey. If you enjoy the journey, and you don’t focus too much on how quickly the results come, then you’re on the right track to making serious and permanent changes to your lifestyle. My thoughts? It would be easier to enjoy the journey if the road wasn’t so flippin’ treacherous! Unfortunately, it’s happened to all of us. Likely, more than a time or two. We research, we prepare, we get on a roll… and then fall flat on our faces. No matter how hard we try, we just can’t seem to stay on it. We want it bad enough, so why is it so hard? We’re presented with “bumps in the road” almost every day. Even if you’re like me, and you have your weekday routine locked tight; it’s the weekends that get you. So, how do we keep a little slip-up from spiraling out of control? Or better yet, once we’ve spiraled, how do we get back ON the wagon?
Searching through pictures on my phone, I came across some accountability photos I took a little over a year ago. I was in the zone then. I worked out 5-6 times a week. I was eating clean (well, most days). I had a goal to reach, and I was working towards it. I had it all planned out. I would work my way towards my short term goal – to fit into my maid of honor dress – and carry on until I reached my ultimate goal, which was to lose 50 lbs and improve my overall health. Even with my routine and all that focus, somehow, I didn’t make it. Oh, I fit into the dress… just as long as breathing was kept to a minimum. Even before the wedding day, I had lost focus, and it has been a battle to get “back on the wagon” ever since. Sure, I can come up with a ton of excuses as to why I didn’t reach my goal. It was the holiday season! House hunting was SO stressful! The packing! The MOVING! We’re remodeling our kitchen; I can’t cook a THING! The truth of the matter is, that’s LIFE. It happens to all of us. So, why is it easier for other people to keep up the good work while the rest of us face-plant?
The simple (and, I’ll admit, a bit annoying) truth is, you just have to do it. You have to commit. Not just one epic, life-changing moment, but commit every day. You have to wake up every morning and make a conscious decision about what you’re going to do for yourself that day. Is it hard? Absolutely. We’ve conditioned ourselves poorly. We’ve made the wrong decisions for so long that they have turned into our version of normal. These bad decisions create bad habits. Habits that are so ingrained into our brains and our bodies that they become reflexes. Have you ever done something without thinking about it at all? Like driving home from work; have you ever gotten home and not remembered a thing about the entire drive? Those are the kind of reflexes I’m talking about. The automatic choices you make because you’ve been making the same choices for YEARS, and you can’t seem to shake them. It’s like a reset for your body to go back to the “normal” way of doing things, which is why it’s so easy to fall off the wagon. It’s also why it seems exponentially harder to find your way back on every time.
The best way to fight bad habits is to build better ones. The best way to do that is to make a point to pay attention to what you do every day. I’ve read and heard from multiple sources that it takes about 30 days to build a new habit. In my personal experience, I have found that this is not the case. Perhaps, it would be if all I were doing was building a new habit, but I’m not. I’m also breaking bad habits – habits that have evolved into reflexes – and it will take significantly more than a few weeks to reverse them. This is why paying attention to your daily decisions is so important. You have to KNOW and SEE the things you’re doing wrong in order to consciously make them right. The more in tune you are with your decisions – the more present you are – the better you will become at stopping those reflexes and building better habits.
The most important thing you can do for yourself while trying to get back on track is to stay accountable. But how? Well, you know those pictures from a year ago? They were going on my social media; specifically Instagram. I also had Angie as my personal accountability partner. She made sure to constantly check up on me with regards to my workouts, especially if she didn’t see any activity on my feed. Maybe this method works for you, or maybe you need a buddy to do it with you, or an app to track intake and output. I have quite a few apps on my phone that I’ve used over the years to track my health and fitness. I tend to try new ones all the time to see which ones work best for my routine. If you’re not so technologically inclined, you could create an accountability group with your friends and/or family members who are on the same journey. The group dynamic is great for feeding off each other’s positive energy and helping each other through rough patches. No matter which it is, find a way to stay accountable that works best for you. Communication is key. Let people KNOW what you’re doing. Don’t internalize your journey. If you are the only one holding yourself accountable, it’s easier to slip up – or give up altogether – than if you have someone you trust keeping you in line. This journey is yours, but you are not the only one on it.
So, here’s to us, with the dirt smudged on our faces from the many falls we’ve taken. We know what’s best for us, and we’ve worked hard to try to get there. Results elude us sometimes, but we still strive for change. We know it will come. All we have to do is hop right back on.