Where'd the wagon go?!?
On a health and fitness journey (or any goal), every now and again we fall off the wagon… jump off the wagon… or jump into a different wagon. So what do you do after that? When it comes to deciding, the simplest answer is to get back on it. It’s nothing fancy. Nothing profound. Just get back on. I would also suggest looking at why you are not on the wagon anymore. Because falling off the wagon could be the thing that you needed to do to make progress.
From what I have seen and what I have experienced, there are a few reasons that we are not on the wagon anymore. In no particular order, let's dive in!
Life is not just health and fitness for most of us. We have work, friends, family, other aspirations. Sometimes those are allowed to take priority over getting in all your workouts or eating on point all the time. For instance, if you go on vacation with your family and stress the entire time about getting in workouts and hitting your nutrition goals, that sounds like a not so fun vacation. You’re allowed to enjoy life and then pick up where you left off.
Or maybe you have started a business and you’re putting in your time to grow it. You’re spending all that time on business things and navigating that world that quick meals and short walks and some body weight exercises are the best you can do. Full on meal prep and longer sessions in the gym aren't feasible. It’s okay to have attention shift. Do the best you can do and then start figuring out what to do get some more health and fitness in there.
It was too hard or too much-
Some of us (raises hand) go all in quickly on things that we are striving for. Although a great quality to go after what you want, it can also be A LOT. With that, it can become too much to handle in the time we’ve allotted so it’s easier to stop than to run on fumes.
With this one, my first thought to getting back on the wagon is to not make the same decisions as you did previously. Maybe you slowly ramp up your training. OR you can look into a coach to help you with this (contact me here for training or nutrition coaching).
When it comes to eating, one of my favorite ways to start with cleaning things up is to add things before taking anything away. Specifically, adding more fruits and veggies rather than taking things away. Cutting out a lot of food leaves you hungry and there is only so much willpower. Rather than going extreme make moderate changes to help ease the transition. Then one day, you’ll turn around and find that those changes have done a lot to help.
You just needed a break.
When you’re in it for the long haul, taking small breaks can be the best thing. Deload weeks from training (where intensity/ volume decreases) or diet breaks can be really good for you. Taking time to rest whether that is mentally or physically, does you good in these situations. For example, building muscle is about breaking down the muscle so that it repairs stronger. Without time for the muscles to repair, you’ll stagnate and then get frustrated and maybe injured. A break can be a week or two weeks from fitness. Also, I find that after a deload week, I am more excited to train. I have more energy for it too.
For diets, I generally suggest 2-4 weeks of a break. Not going crazy and eating ALL THE FOOD but also being a little more relaxed. For a lot of people, with moderate calorie reduction (so they are trying to lose fat), it’s not always as glaring to take a break. In those cases, it's sometimes more of a mental break to thinking about calories as much as it is a physical break. Generally every 2-3 months, I suggest sprinkle a break in. I like to try new recipes at that time, eat some more carbs, and enjoy the extra energy that more food gives me.
What if the wagon no longer works for you?
The cool thing about journeys is that we are able to shift, pivot, and change when we feel we need to do so. Our goals (generally speaking) cannot stay the same forever. We will finish something and then move on to the next goal. For example, people that have a goal to get to a healthy weight will eventually get there. So what do you do from there? Maintaining that healthy weight is a good sentiment but I like to think about having something to work towards (like trying new foods or taking up mountain biking). It doesn’t have to be weight related or even fitness related. Maybe you want to take up painting and that’s the wagon you focus your attention on. Maintaining your weight is important but it’s not the only thing in life. Mental matters so something physical doesn’t always have to be the main goal.
In another vein, let’s say you’ve just graduated high school and you’ve decided not to play a sport in college (at least competitively). Your goal of being the best ________ you can be is no longer your focus. In this regard, it might be best to take a look at other wagons around and ask yourself, “Do I want to get really strong and focus on that? Do I want to do endurance type training? Do I want to be somewhere in the middle? (Pretty good at lifting and endurance).” Whichever you choose, it’s okay to switch wagons especially when life calls for it.
I didn’t reach my goal but this wagon doesn’t work for me
You might feel that the wagon you were in isn’t working. A hard truth to take is that most things take longer than you want. Ask yourself, “Is it not working or am I not being patient enough?” Getting stronger takes time. Packing on muscle is not a 30 day endeavor… even for those with the best genetics that lends itself to muscle growth. Maybe you want to get faster, one run doesn’t shave 12 seconds off your time. Consistency is the key. It could very well be that your wagon is not the right one for you but it could be that it is the right one for you but the journey is not going as fast as you want it to go. Anyone who has played the Oregon trail knows how finicky wagons can be. The journey could be slower than you were expecting but that doesn't mean it isn't moving forward.
For instance, thinking about learning to cook and make healthier choices is something that seems to be one of those situations that takes longer than expected. It’s easy to try broccoli one time and say, “THIS IS TERRIBLE. HOW COULD PEOPLE EAT THIS ON THE REG?!?” Changing taste takes time too. If you’ve been eating sweets and salty fried foods, broccoli doesn’t have that taste, texture, etc. But you can work to enjoy vegetables more. They are an acquired taste. ALSO, don’t settle for just steaming the veggies in the microwave. That does not do them justice. Roasting them in the oven or sauteing in a pan gives them a much better texture. Add some seasoning and you’ve got a great start to liking more veggies.
If you've fallen off the wagon, I hope this helps to find a wagon to get on again! If you're on your wagon, that's awesome and I hope it's going amazingly for you! Remember: Things are a process and take longer than we want. It's totally fine to pivot and change approaches. Life happens and moments of shifted focus is all apart of it.
You got this!! I'm rooting for you!