Falling Off the Wagon

I almost hate that I'm using that phrase in my title. I hate the analogies "getting off track, falling off the bus, falling off the wagon", etc, especially when referring to fitness. The track, the bus, the wagon, whatever analogy you're referring to - those are all known as life. And as long as you're living, you're on the damn wagon! Yes, there are ups and downs (like with everything in life), but I think it's so important to remember that fitness is not all or nothing. You can have weeks where you absolutely KILL it, and you can have weeks where a work project or a family issue takes priority, and that doesn't make your fitness journey any less important. It doesn't make you a "bad" fitness person. It doesn't mean you should give it up or throw in the towel.

The other week was a bad week for me. Why share it? Because I try to be as transparent as possible. And I'm a human.. who works full time just like everybody else. Who loves to binge watch shows on Netflix. Who has about a million projects started around the house. Who can get so wrapped up in a project that I don't focus on anything else until I see it's completion. So I understand that, although I hate the phrase, it's easy to fall off the bus (and sometimes feel like it backed up over you as well). My bad week started off, as it usually does, with getting wrapped up in a project. As some of you may know my family was in town to help us paint our kitchen cabinets. This was a HUGE project; one that I probably wouldn't have finished for 6 months without their help, and I'm truly thankful for all of their hard work. But as you can imagine, when your kitchen is a disaster zone and you're worried about finishing a huge project in 3 days, you're not focused on cooking meals in said disaster zone. I prepped some healthy breakfast options before they got into town, and lunches were okay (usually chicken wraps from a restaurant Cam and I frequent) but dinners were pizza or grabbing whatever was around. My dear grandma, who I believe is the person I inherited my ridiculous sweet tooth from, also brought 2 dozen Manderfield's cookies for the trip. If you know me, you know I can't resist Manderfields. So in some moments of hunger, I had a cookie (okay, if I'm truly being transparent... more like 6).

We worked on the kitchen up until late Sunday evening and my family left Monday morning. That meant I didn't spend Sunday doing my usual routine of grocery shopping and meal prep. I went into the week feeling somewhat blind. Breakfast was my usual routine and I managed to do okay for lunches using a lot of online nutrition calculators (McAlister's tuna salad on a 4" whole wheat baguette for the win!) but without having my healthy snacks packed, I found myself eating little things I wouldn't usually reach for when hunger struck. Read: cookies, more cookies, lots of cookies, mini chocolate bars, etc. Cam and I had a mid-week pizza and ice cream cheat meal, which is NEVER a good idea because as much as we convince ourselves we will eat healthy on the weekend, we always want another cheat meal by Saturday. And sure enough when Saturday came around I had a burger and fries for lunch AND pizza for dinner. I can't even emphasize how out of character this is for me.

I managed to hit the gym Monday-Thursday, but Friday I let myself sleep in. Saturdays the gym is only open 8am to noon, and I had every intention of going, but got myself caught up in another project. Shameless plug to show off this wine bar thingy I made.

 I'm so proud of myself. Okay, back to the fitness stuff..

I'm so proud of myself. Okay, back to the fitness stuff..

Anyway - Sunday our gym is closed. Three days of not working out in a row feels so wrong to me, and although making it to the gym 4 out of 7 days seems pretty good, my workouts weren't the best because I wasn't fueling my body properly.  So between my food choices being mediocre at best and my workouts being subpar, I was feeling pretty crappy.

Which brings me to the whole point of this: in the past, this would have been the death of me. I would have told myself that I'd ruined all my progress, so what's the point. I would have convinced myself that the time off from the gym was nice. I would've decided that sleeping in was the better, easier choice. I would have continued making excuses why I could justify another cookie or why I could miss another workout. And the days would turn into weeks, and the weeks would turn into months. And I understand how easily that happens. I understand how time flies by and all of a sudden you haven't been to the gym in 4 months and you've gained 10 pounds in a year without really realizing it. But fortunately, like I stated earlier, I've learned in the past couple years that fitness isn't all or nothing. Messing up for a few days, or even a week, doesn't mean you should ever give up.

With that being said, turning it around can be tricky. You just have to decide to put an end to it. I had to have an actual conversation with myself. Why did I start this journey? Because I was miserable and uncomfortable in my own skin. What is my goal? A healthy, happier, stronger body. I had to set some short term goals for myself, and I'm talking very short term. I told myself I would hit my macros 3 days in a row and I would get to the gym in the morning 3 days in a row. I would pack every item from home, knowing that even if I had intentions of making healthy choices while eating out, I have no control over whether work might get crazy and result in eating a bag of chips because I don't have time to run out and get something. Three is the magic number for me. I set the goal of 3 days knowing that if I can get through those 3 days (which are roughhh), I usually end up feeling more energetic and remember why this is so important to me. I know that by the 2nd or 3rd day in the gym, I remember how much I love the feeling of a great workout. And I know that by day 3 my body (and mind) is so thankful for consistency and routine, that moving forward will feel easy. The hardest part about all this is kicking the sugar addiction that I've let myself build. There's no science to this, but I also find 3 days is the magic number to help me get over that hump and let my palate readjust to healthier foods. During those 3 days, when I'm tempted by a cookie or a donut, I have to remind myself this will not get me closer to my goal. This might make me feel good in the moment, but I will regret it. This is a matter of what I want now, vs what I want most. Once I get through these 3 days, I can see a donut and not even feel slightly tempted by it. It just takes an intentional day by day, sometimes minute by minute, thought process at first.

In closing, I just want to encourage everyone to think long and hard about why their health is important to them. Remembering why you started is key motivation when you're going through difficult times. In addition, set SMART goals - specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely. For example, instead of saying you want to get in shape, try saying "I want to commit to working out 4 days a week for an hour each time". Is the goal specific? Yes, you have given yourself a set number of days to hit the gym. Measurable? Yep - you either went 4 times for an hour or you didn't. Attainable? Chances are you will be able to fit 4 workouts into your weekly routine with a little planning. Realistic/Reasonable? Hitting the gym 4 days and having 3 rest days is certainly doable. Timely? You're taking things a week at a time. Rather than saying "I want to get in shape" or "I want to lose weight by Christmas", you're giving yourself a shorter goal that doesn't seem like such an overwhelming undertaking. Once you've achieved that goal, set it again or adjust it if necessary.

Shoot me a message if you need some help setting SMART goals. People will often ask how you lost weight, but they won't ask why. Understanding your "why" helps you stay true when the "how" becomes difficult. And remember it is never too late to turn it around. Now is a better time than any to refocus and recommit to your health!