If you have ever said “I’ll start Monday”, this post is for you (which I am guessing, is almost everyone reading this post.)
As I’ve said in a post on my Instagram profile, I think this is one of the most detrimental mindsets you can have if you have a goal you’re looking to achieve. Why do we always put the opportunity to work towards being our best selves until Monday? Usually because we associate the wanted goal with something negative. We want to start eating healthy, but we think that means restriction. We want to start exercising, but we immediately think about how much we dislike going to the gym. These thoughts are not uncommon, and they are a pretty sure indication you’ve become good friends with the “wagon” mentality.
What do I mean by “wagon” mentality?
It means you consider yourself either “on” or “off” the wagon. You’re either eating super “clean”, exercising 5-6 days a week and drinking water like a champ, or you’re not doing any of it. You don’t consider a middle-ground, or when you are semi-doing things, it’s not good enough – so you stop because *one workout doesn’t even count, right*? (Spoiler alert: it does)
Why doesn’t this work long-term?
Let’s say you do a 6 week program to achieve your fitness goals, and you give it everything you have. You eat 100% according to the plan, you train 6x a week – everything. But by the end of it, you realize that it’s just not maintainable. You aren’t going out as much, you loved the training but work is just too hectic and you want to spend time with the kids. It’s end of year so the deadlines are looming… So you stop, and don’t do anything for the next 3 months. You do this 3x a year.
The problem is that you come out of this routine and go straight back to the habits that made you want to take the challenge on in the first place, which leads to this draining yo-yo in and out of a diet cycle.
You train at the gym 3x a week for 45 minutes and you eat mostly whole foods and relax a little on the weekends. You go for a walk with your family once a week and try as much as you can to get some good sleep.
This is maintainable so you keep it as your regular schedule pretty much year round. You get good workouts in, and you end up seeing sustainable progress by keeping these manageable habits in place. As you get used to it, you build up from there.
While you will definitely see results quick from scenario 1, the trick is keeping them. Time after time I see so many people make incredible physical changes, only to end up feeling terrible because they’ve “lost all their progress” weeks later. This does nothing for your relationship with food, exercise or your body – and you deserve to have a great relationship with all three. And let me tell you – it is so normal to kick back after an intense all-or-nothing program and not maintain it.
So how do we change this thinking?
One of my favourite tips is to think of your decisions as a sliding scale rather than as black or white. All our choices in the day can either move us little bit closer to our goals, or a little further away. We always have the opportunity to make slightly better choices – and I am full believer that consistency comes from the little choices. For example:
- If you can’t get to the gym today, take the dogs for a 10 minute walk.
- If you can’t pack your own lunch, have an extra side of salad or veg.
- If you ate a cookie for breakfast, shake it off and move on. You haven’t “ruined your week” – you’ve simply made one choice out of the hundreds of choices to make this week to have a cookie. Make the next choice one that is slightly more aligned with your goals.
- If you want to watch the soccer tonight, skip or stretch while you watch.
As you can see, it’s not always about giving 100%. Sometimes it’s about giving what you can that day, and doing your best. In my post, Why You Don’t Need To Give It 100% To See Results, I cover this in a bit more detail, but I’ll summarize it for you here: small changes make big results. Small changes don’t overwhelm us, our families or our bodies and help us to integrate a healthier lifestyle in a more sustainable way.
So how are you going to make slightly better choices this week?