by guest contributor Hannah Gray
Let’s have a show of hands: how many of you have gotten stuck in a rut where you just didn’t feel like getting to the gym? Maybe it was a stressful event, or string of events that just left you drained, and you were too tired one day…which turned into a few days, then a week, then a month. And no matter how much you thought “I have to get back to the gym!”, it just kept not happening. You started eating out more often, watching more Netflix, getting less sleep…and before you knew it, your pants were getting tighter – anyone been there?
If you have, you aren’t alone!
If that has never happened to you, nice work. Seriously. You are awesome and I applaud your consistency and self-love. You may want to just close this screen up, make yourself a kale smoothie, and go for a run instead of hanging out with me for the next few minutes…unless of course, you care about someone who is in a funk and can’t find their way out, and you need some help boosting them up.
So how do you break that pattern of being really ‘good’ for a while, spectacularly falling off the wagon, then having to sprint to catch up? Especially if you skinned your knee and ripped the back of your pants when you wiped out?
The answer can be summed up in one word. SLOWLY.
Because you can’t turn your life upside down all at once and expect all the changes to stick. Sure, you may do great for a couple of months, but then something unexpected will happen and it will all get overwhelming in a hurry. That’s bungee cord territory, and we don’t want to go there anymore. So, where to start?
The truth is, the starting point is different for everybody, but the principles are the same.
1.) Forgive yourself for whatever has already happened.
Forgive yourself, but don’t forget. The past isn’t really good for anything except learning, and since hindsight is 20/20 it’s an excellent source of information… if you choose to use it that way. In the context of diet and exercise, taking stock of where you are in an objective way is an important first step. ‘Objective’ is the key word here – no letting emotion get in the way of figuring out how you ended up here!
Ever get on the scale and think you need to be punished for ending up where you are? Or promised yourself a reward for making progress that doesn’t fit the goal? (For example, “I’ll eat perfectly all week and if I can muscle through I’ll treat myself to a cupcake!”) I’ve been to both of those places. Recently I went for a full year without seeing a chiropractor or getting a massage – because, you guessed it – I was ashamed of my weight gain and had convinced myself that I didn’t deserve it.
Losing your way is not a crime that needs to be punished. Better to have a look at a map and figure out what happened, but don’t forget to pause and explore the new territory you’ve discovered.
2.) Make yourself feel good.
Ending the punishment plays into this step, but not being punished feels so good that why not take it one step further and show yourself some love?
For me, that meant picking up the phone and making an appointment with my chiropractor, a guy who has also become a friend and confidant over the years. Predictably, he was unimpressed with my excuse for not coming in…because avoiding treating my body with the respect it deserves was definitely not helping me get back on track!
Take the reins and do something nice for yourself – hey, you deserve to feel good! That could mean getting a good haircut, getting a massage, or even going to bed early. Getting back in control of your own well-being is the important thing. Because… what would happen if you never got the body you wanted? Would that be so bad? Could you learn to love yourself the way you are right now? (Hint: you can’t hate and punish your way to being lean, fit and happy.)
3.) Imagine the best version of yourself.
In a perfect world, who are you? How do you live? What habits keep you being this awesome-unicorn-version of yourself? Could you start adopting some of those habits today?
If I use my experience as an example again, here’s what had to happen: I was stuck in a rut. I’d had health problems that dragged me down, and left me depressed, ashamed, disappointed in myself. I wasn’t sure if I could stay in this career anymore because of it. I felt like everyone was judging me based on how I looked, and assuming I wasn’t equipped to do my job well. I even doubted myself on that score: how was I able to call myself a trainer if I looked like I couldn’t control my own lifestyle? On the other hand, I knew that I was the same person I was before the weight gain. I knew I did my job well; my clients’ successes spoke to that fact. Why were things so different just because I had gained weight? It wasn’t fair, and it made me angry. Around and around I went on the negative feedback loop.
If anything was going to change, I had to change how I thought. I had to make a series of conscious choices. First, that there was nothing wrong with me the way I was. Carrying extra weight is not a character flaw, and anyone who cared to judge me based on my appearance wasn’t worth worrying about. Second, that I was going to be good to my body no matter how it looked. I mean, it wasn’t really stopping me from doing anything I wanted to do: I was strong and fit enough to do pretty much anything (not that I’ll be laying down any new land speed records anytime soon, but you know what I mean), so why not embrace the fact that I am able to train hard, eat well, rest effectively, and just chill and enjoy the process? And third, I imagined how I’d live if I was the version of me that I want to be… and then did that. Things are changing. It’s a work in progress, but the gap between the awesome version of me in my head and the actual me is getting a little smaller every day.
Thank you Hannah for sharing your journey with us! Questions about personal training? Visit her at Glenora World Health.