How to get back on track with diet and exercise

Have you given up on your diet and exercise goals? Have you found that your goals were too hard to maintain? Or have you been successful but defaulted back to old patterns? Think there’s no use in trying? It’s normal. Don’t use it as a sign saying to give up.

Chances are you’ve been successful before. But, the momentum becomes hard to maintain. This occurs especially when you’ve achieved your goal and the motivation disappears.

Unfortunately, this is when you relapse into past behaviors and go back to your original set point. That’s because it takes time (lots of time) to undo those patterns that are etched into the brain. So, even when you’ve had success, you need to stay consistent with new behaviors to stay on track.

If you’re hesitant about starting over and wonder how to get back on track with diet and exercise, read on.

You’re never completely starting over.

Losing progress is normal. Most people fall backwards a bit when pursuing their goals. Even if you stopped pursuing your previous goals, you can still learn from them. And when you can learn from your mistakes, you are moving forward not backwards. You may be two steps behind, but you’re not starting with a clean slate.

[bctt tweet=”Remember: Diet and exercise goals are not achieved in a straight line, you spiral upwards. “]

What can you learn from your experiences? How can you avoid these experiences in the future?

Get in touch with that initial motivation.

Did your source of motivation change? Do you need to change your goals? If your initial source of motivation doesn’t exist anymore or it was an external motivation like peer pressure, then you should find motivation that meets your values.

Ask yourself this: Are you pursuing these goals because it’s something you really want or enjoy? Before you restart your diet or exercise plans, find foods and activities you find enjoyable. Or, find reasons why dieting will be rewarding.

Don’t take on too much.

If you’re trying to do too much, prioritize your goals. Multiple hard goals split your focus and decrease your willpower.

Choose the goal that will give you the most benefit. Once you achieve that goal or the new behaviors become a breeze, tackle that goal that fell by the wayside.

Turn your excuses around.

Instead of making an excuse not to do something (that is, of course, if they aren’t legitimate), make an excuse to do it. Here’s an example: Turn “I just don’t feel like doing it” to “I will feel better once I do it”.

Do a skill check.

Did you have the necessary skills to do your goal? For example, did you need help learning the proper portion sizes? Or, did you need to learn how to cook more nutritious meals? Did you need to learn how to play a particular sport like tennis? Or, did you need to a personal trainer to show you proper exercise technique at the gym?

If so, make a point right now to upgrade your skills. You’ll feel more confident when you restart your journey.

Change your environment.

Get rid of your trigger foods. Ask your support system stop unknowingly sabotage you. Ask them to support your diet and exercise efforts. And tell them how. For example, you can start having more active social activities. Consider swimming, training for a 5k or an evening yoga class.

Set up cues that will trigger actions. Set a reminder to fill out a food journal after each meal. Send emails or phone calls to yourself if you don’t meet a specific goal. For example, you can use IFTTT to call or text you.

Here’s an example of a task that can be set up. If I have not worked out in 3 (or insert your number here) days with Jawbone, I can set up a phone call with a message saying, “hey, get back in there.”

Recommit to your diet and exercise goal.

Write down your goal. Then write down specific actions to take daily. While you’re at it, do something about that goal within 30 minutes. These actions don’t have to be big like running 10 miles a day. Make them small enough to keep up momentum.

  • If you want to lose weight. opt for a lighter meal today. Cut 100 calories from your diet tomorrow.
  • If you want to exercise more, take a short walk. Add your daily exercises to your calendar. Create a ritual around eating and exercise that will turn your actions in a habit.
  • Make it a ritual to add a serving of vegetables to each meal. Take a walk after each meal.
  • Make a habit of eating at a table and not on the couch.

It’s easier to stay motivated when you’re consistent. Make small bits of action a practice every day.

Find a role model.

Find someone who has been there and done, who can show you how to get back on track with diet and exercise goals. Find people who are like you. For example, if you’re not a fitness model, don’t aspire to have the body of one, at least not at first.

Nix the negative self-talk. Pay attention to the thoughts when you feel unmotivated. How can you turn these negative thoughts into positive thoughts? Is there another way of seeing the situation?

  • Turn “it’s useless trying” to “I’m doing the best I can at this moment. I will try again tomorrow.”
  • Turn “I am not good at exercise” to “I am learning and getting better with practice.”
  • Turn “I can’t control myself” to “I briefly lost control but I’m in control now.”
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