"Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.”
So you’ve tried every diet under the sun, from Atkins to Paleo to everything in between. You’ve tried juice cleanses, fit-tea products, and somehow never quite saw the results you were hoping for in the first couple days or weeks, causing you to fall off from your routine.
Same thing happened with your workout efforts. From the “6-Weeks to a 6-Pack” program, the "50 Squats-A-Day to a Bigger Butt” routine, they never seemed to deliver the advertised results.
Hence, you’re here, reading this blog post, praying for a miracle.
SPOILER ALERT: I am not able to give you the magic answer you are desperately looking for. I am, however, going to give you some insight into how to cope and move forward after having “failed” yourself for the thousandth time, and how to (hopefully) never have to mourn another “failed” attempt at health again.
As annoyingly cliche and overused this statement is, it is truly a fact at this point— “If it’s not sustainable for your lifestyle, you probably shouldn’t do it." Or, in other words, “Don’t set yourself up for failure!” (Can I get a resounding, “Duhhhh,” insert eye roll emoji here.)
Here’s an example of setting yourself up for failure:
You’re a mother of 3, a full-time employee, and an active volunteer at your children’s school, who commits to a twice-a-day cardio routine, plus weight training, plus fitting in 4-6 perfectly prepped and measured meals a day…
Probably not the best idea.
I know there are some people out there that somehow can manage to do all of this, but you don’t always have to do life the “hard way.” Work smarter, not harder.
Another example of setting yourself up for failure:
In this case, by setting yourself up for “failure,” I really mean “injury.” Ouch, that doesn’t sound like any fun. Aren’t we supposed to be trying to get the most out of our bodies and live vibrant healthy lives?
I hear of a lot of people that “always get hurt right as [they] get a routine going.” I don’t think it’s too difficult to figure this one out— they “came out of the gate” too strong, so to speak.
If you go from zero to one-hundred in a week, there is a good chance your body is not going to know how to react. This can result in a weakened immune system, extreme fatigue or muscle soreness, and injury.
When weight loss or a certain physique is the goal, I’ve noticed that people (myself included) tend to lose sight of the big picture. They will do whatever it takes to get to their goal quicker, even if it’s extremely dangerous, unhealthy, or downright miserable. This is why, when working with my clients, I always dive deeper than just their short-term and long-term goals.
The final, most important question I ask them is, “What is your ‘Why’? Why are you here? What motivated you to sign up for personal training today?”
This frequently involves a long, drawn-out answer and a few tears, but I love it! This is the stuff the keeps me in the fitness industry— not necessarily the physical results, but the emotional results.
Go ahead. Ask yourself what your “why” is right now. Figure out your biggest motivator for wanting to get in shape, or whatever it is you are trying to accomplish. Now refer back to that when setting your short-term goals. What baby steps are going to get you to your best self?
Write your “why” down on sticky notes and place them by that icky green powder you want to start drinking. Put them by your running shoes or your foam roller. This way, you will have constant reminders as to why you are doing what you’re doing.
If for some reason you’ve set a SMART goal and you still are not able to maintain your routine, that’s okay! The Type A perfectionists of the world have a hard time with this phenomenon, trying to stick to exactly what they had planned to do, even if it means running themselves into the ground.
If that’s you, I recommend trying to set your goals just slightly under what you originally think you can manage (for more about setting SMART goals, click here). This way, there’s always room to bump it up if you need to, but don’t feel like a “failure” if you can’t maintain what you intended to do. Moving forward, learn from your past mistakes, because repeating the same blunders over and over again tends to lower one’s self-efficacy and overall, one’s self-esteem.
Whether you are Type A or not, if this on-again-off-again relationship with fitness and health is something that has affected you emotionally and psychologically, then this quote is for you:
“Perfectionism is not a quest for the best.
It is a pursuit of the worst in ourselves,
the part that tells us that nothing we do
will ever be good enough.”
-from Julia Cameron's
The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity
Basically, there is absolutely no reason to try to be the supermodel you see in magazines, or like your cousin who is a spin instructor, or like the guy at your gym who can squat three times the weight that you can. Of course there’s nothing wrong with striving to be the best version of yourself. But even then, take it one day at a time, and don’t try to transform yourself overnight.
We are all a work in progress, and are mere humans trying to do the best we can to live a healthy, happy life.
What is one realistic goal you can set for yourself today?
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