In order to reach any health or fitness goal do you feel like you need to completely overhaul your routine to get results?
Would you consider yourself as having an all or nothing mentality? You're either all in or nothing at all?
If you answered yes to any of the above questions, this blog is for you.
If you're an all or nothing person this is how your health journey usually looks: you do great with three months, six months or even one year working on your goals and see massive results during this time. Once you reach that goal or something gets in the way, you completely revert back to all of your old habits and undo all of the progress you made. There is no in between. You are either 100% in or not at all. There is no maintenance phase in your life. This is what is preventing you from true success.
Health is not something that can be turned on and off like a light switch. Yet when it comes to making changes in our life to get healthier, that seems to be what happens when anything difficult comes. In the most difficult seasons of life, it may not be realistic to get that six pack or lose 30 pounds. The focus should instead be on the most basic habits like prioritizing self care, getting movement in even if it isn't your usual gym routine, prioritizing protein and whole foods, drinking enough water, etc.
Focusing on the fundamental habits of health can help you create a positive plateau on your journey instead of falling all the way back to where you started.
If you are running a race and trip over a rock, would you prefer to stay where you are at for a moment, rub your sore foot and then get back up to finish the race or have to be dragged all the way back to the starting line to start the race over?
Think about a really hard time in your life. Tough seasons like childbirth, death of a loved one, physical illness, depression, moving, changing careers, divorce, loss of job. Think about what your health and fitness did or didn't look like at that time. In those seasons you probably didn't want to focus on anything else outside of surviving that season- which is totally appropriate. Think about if you were to focus on the basics during that time.
By basics I mean focusing small habits you can easily manage like drinking enough water each day or going for a ten minute walk every day. Meditating or simply sitting still in silence without distraction even for just five minutes. Making one healthy meal choice each day. These are things that most of us have access to that are completely free. If you focus on the basics you most likely would have come out of that season feeling so much better than someone who did not focus on anything at all.
Even a vacation can be a disruptor. Despite it not being a tough season it does disrupt our normal routines. This is a big one that I see clients struggle with all the time. There is so much overwhelm with them thinking that they have to stay on the exact same routine and eat the exact same way which results in them saying "screw it" and completely destroying their progress because they weren't able to be "perfect". Think about how that feels when you go on vacation. You eat and drink all the yummy things. You get out of your regular exercise routine, barely sleep and come back feeling like you need a vacation from your vacation.
You can focus on the most basic principles to keep biofeedback like energy, mood, digestion and sleep at a constant during these times. This is another reason why having other goals outside of body composition are so important. When things get tough, we often do not care how we look. We need to have other measures of success and progress. When you start to pay attention to the other biofeedback markers and know how great you can feel, you can use those markers to keep you going.
This is where lifestyle change comes into play. It's not just about buying into a weight loss or fitness plan that you follow for a few months and then stop for a few months and pick it back up later on. If you make extreme changes, it is very likely you will undo all of your success in an extreme fashion. If you focus on the smallest possible habits and compound them over time, that is where you see true sustainable change. This is the focus of the Sophrosyne Health coaching program. Take a look at the graph below.
In yellow is someone who likes to go all in for a few months and either something in their life forces them to stop focusing so much on their goals, or they simply burnout from making such extreme changes in their life all at once. They fall off track for a few months and return back to almost exactly where they started. They repeat this process because they have no concept of sustainable change.
In green is someone who starts out slow, breaking down their overarching goal and translating that into small daily changes that are simple enough to be consistent with. They make some progress and perhaps have to move to a new house, or they start a new career. Instead of completely digressing, they have been able to maintain exactly where they are until they have the time and energy to put back into their goals.
Here are a few easy steps you can take manage the tough seasons of life without having to pause everything.
Set realistic expectations in the difficult season. Understand you're likely to not going the have the same amount of discipline or motivation as you normally would.
Scale back and adjust current regimen/ plan. Maybe that means scaling back the number of days working out, tracking less or switching to more intuitive type tracking.
Asses weekly or monthly where you are at and slowly start adding more back in to your regimen when you feel ready. This is a great time to lean in to your coach for help. It can be hard to be objective over our own lives when we need to scale back and return to routines. If you don't have a coach be honest with yourself. Are you overwhelmed with your routine? If so, you may need to scale back.
Getting healthier is not black and white. It is important to learn how to manage the ebbs and flows of life to fit your needs in each season.