Slacking off on your health and fitness goals doesn’t happen overnight. According to the Laborer’s Health and Safety Fund of America, when it comes to fitness, it’s use it or lose it. After a week or so, your body can start “detraining,” which can be the beginning of a decline in overall fitness, pushing you further and further from your goals. By the time you slack off for two or three weeks, you’ll start seeing serious loss of strength and endurance – not to mention a negative change in your mood. Deteriorating mood and sleep quality can make it harder to get back to fitness building activities, so try to turn things around sooner rather than later.
If slacking off is how you spent your winter, it’s time to snap out of it. Shake off the winter blues and get back to it. When you hop back on the scale or attempt your first pull up after a less than stellar winter, don’t freak out. You might have gained a few pounds or lost some muscle, but that doesn’t mean you’re a lost cause. You just need to reset yourself. Keep track of your workouts and your diet to use as a means of motivation and accountability. Set yourself up for success and prepare your meals ahead of time so you don’t go off the rails again.
Don’t Freak Out
Ok. So you messed up a little bit this winter. Don’t freak out. It’s easy to get upset, blame yourself and go off the deep end, but coming unglued isn’t going to do you any good. Things like this happen. The important thing is to not totally lose your mind over it. Begin where you’re at.
“Falling off the horse is completely normal,” according to LifeHacker. “Everyone does it, and it doesn’t make you weak-willed or undisciplined. It makes you human.”
When you beat yourself up about slacking off with your diet or your exercise (or really anything else), one of two thing is going to happen. Either you’re going to be way too hard on yourself and it’s going to make you overcompensate, or you’re going to throw in the towel completely. If you fall prey to the former, you’re going to burn out fast, setting yourself up for another disappointment or possible injury. If you decide to run with your perceived defeat, you could end up doubling down on the damage done.
The best thing you can do in this situation is keep your cool and perform a little self-evaluation. LifeHacker suggests analyzing your strength and muscle loss and your fat gain. See where you stand, what ground you’ve lost and focus your attentions on where you want to be.
Hit The Reset Button
Once you’ve calmed down and figured out where you stand with your health and fitness you can see this as an opportunity to hit the reset button. “After overindulging,” says Men’s Fitness, “whether it’s a meal, a day, or a week, jumping right back into a mini-reset afterwards will quickly have you looking and feeling your best again, encourage a speedy return to your normal training routine, and get you right back in control of your food and your cravings.”
A little reset can work wonders to not only get you back on track, but encourage you to keep on keepin’ on. LifeHacker lays out a day by day plan for a weeklong reset. “The penultimate step is to designate a week to get back on your program – we’ll call this ‘Reboot Week’ – and create a detailed list of all the things you have to do.”
They break it down into steps as small as “get in car” and “drive to gym,” but as long as you have a solid plan to get back on track, you’ll be golden. Set some reasonable goals, like getting to the gym three days a week or nailing your planned calorie intake within 3 percent or so, and hit them consistently all week. “It doesn’t matter if you’ve completely lost all of your strength (which you likely didn’t) or if you’re still up 10 pounds on the scale,” says LifeHacker. “Focus on getting through your checklist.” Each success, no matter how small, is a step in your desired direction.
Keep Track Of What You’re Doing
Keeping track of what you’re doing is important whether you’ve recently slipped up or not. Keeping a journal of your food and your workouts can be a huge motivator and keep you accountable. Plus, you’ll have a record of all of your accomplishments to look back on when you’re feeling frustrated or plateaued.
Men’s Fitness suggests starting your journal at your lowest moment after you fall off the wagon. “Starting at that moment, write down your meals, snacks and drinks – everything – for a few days. That should be enough to help you stay accountable to what’s actually going into your body. No excuses.”
Don’t stop there. Track your workouts, too. “Record the exercises you performed, the weight you lifted and the number of sets and repetitions,” suggests BodyBuilding.com. “This will help to keep you consistent with your exercise program, eliminate missing exercises and help when you want to progress in your exercises.”
Another way to keep yourself on top of your goals is to prepare as much as you can ahead of time. This is especially true with your diet. Get into the habit of meal prepping, planning all of your meals out for a few days at a time, or even the entire week. Meal prep can save you time and willpower. If you’ve got a good plan of what you’re eating ahead of time, you’re not going to be tempted to hit the vending machine or the drive thru.
Don’t be discouraged or overwhelmed by winter laziness. Pick yourself back up and don’t freak out. You can get back on track and achieve your goals. Reset your diet and exercise routine by planning a reboot week. Keep track of all of your successes and failures. And prepare yourself for continuing success in the future by prepping your meals and taking the pressure off of your willpower.