The seasons are changing, and possibly your journey towards your healthier lifestyle has been on hold. Getting unstuck and back on track after your social gatherings, holidays, and vacations can be tough. Have you recently said to yourself “I’ll get back on track on Monday,” but when Monday comes around, no changes have been made? Oops.
Lapses in healthy behaviors happen. The reasons can be fun-filled like the ones listed above or lack fun completely like the kind of life events that drop you to your knees and leave you gasping for air. Whatever the reason and whenever you find yourself lacking your healthy mojo, these three ways can help you get unstuck and move forward again with your health-related goals.
We can only shift what we are aware of, so the first step is to take a moment and reflect on how and when things started to steamroll out of control. You may also want to ask yourself where, what, who and why in your efforts to evaluate this. Look for some of these common triggers in finding how and when you lost your way.
Once you have evaluated all the contributors, start with ONE trigger, maybe two max, and create a strategy on how to better manage it, or them. So let’s say eating out and starting with a couple drinks is the common pattern. This may happen most nights of the week because you have an active social life. This was the case for a retired couple I know, and they decided to create some boundaries with social events that surrounded food. Instead of 4 or more nights per week of eating out and drinks with friends, they halved it to 2 outings per week. They stayed home and cooked the rest of the week. This adjustment worked for them, so your strategy will be unique to you since you only know the ‘who, what, what, where, when, why and how’ of your unhealthy living trigger(s). Again, the first step is to explore the contributing factors because this awareness will inform your strategy for getting unstuck.
The primary reason people get stuck is that they fall prey to an all-or-nothing mindset. This mindset may sound like: “I already ate a donut today, so I’ll eat whatever and however much I want today and start over tomorrow,” or “I can’t get in my usual 1-hour workout today, so why bother. I’ll just exercise tomorrow.” It’s common for that tomorrow to keep getting pushed off until the next day, and so on.
This ‘what the heck I’ve already screwed up’ response, which results in a teeter-totter of an all-or-nothing mindset sounds like I’m all in – or I’m all out. Instead, the key is to do something, anything – instead of nothing. Even though the donut is eaten, the rest of the day doesn’t have to be a free-for-all with our food choices. Our typical exercise routine can’t be done? Then cut it in half, or break it up even more. Research shows that consistently walking 30 minutes a day (and not all at once, so it can be broken up into 3 increments of 10 minutes) has the following impact on our health:
These benefits are HUGE! So, instead of the ‘why bother’ mindset, we should focus on what CAN be done today to the best of our abilities, because something is better than nothing. Bob Wright, H3’s Director of Education, refers to this approach as maintaining a Degree of On. Bob Wright describes this as maintaining some behaviors to some degree in the midst of life’s challenges and life’s pleasures helps to maintain ‘behavioral fitness’. This ‘Degree of On’ mindset allows us to find a middle ground with behavior and avoid the all-or-nothing mentality, which is where our healthy mojo resides.
When we feel stuck the tendency is to deny or to hide that fact with ourselves and with others. When it’s with yourself, tip 1. Evaluate How & When You Lost Your Way will help you to unveil any denial or ‘head in the sand’ tendencies. When it comes to hiding our stuckness from others, whether it’s through physical separation through isolation or from putting on an ‘everything is ok but it’s really not’ mask, depression is usually around the corner. Sometimes it’s hard to tell which comes first – feeling stuck and then isolating or feeling isolated and getting stuck!
The solution, no matter the cause, is to get support and not go it alone. Reach out to a professional, a trusted family member or a close friend and let yourself vent, be seen and feel supported. The negative self-talk rages inside when we feel stuck. The simple act of getting our innermost thoughts and fears OFF the hamster wheel in our heads tends to take the edge off and allow clarity and a sense of calm in, rather than feeling overwhelmed by it all. A little help can go a long way.