It happens to the best of us (especially after setting New Year’s resolutions). A few great days, or even weeks, of following your fitness and nutrition plan and then—BANG—life happens. A late night out with friends, a last-minute business trip, a sick baby at home, or something as simple as a bad mood can force you off kilter. Maybe you’ve missed your fitness session. Maybe you simply don’t have the energy (or desire) to prepare a healthy meal. Regardless, you’ve hit a wall. You’re having an “off” day.
Sometimes an off day is just that: one day off track. You wake up the next morning back to being motivated and focused on your goals. Other times, it can take several days to regain your fitness mojo. At these moments, off days can be vicious—but they can also be stopped.
Committing wholeheartedly to your health is not easy. There will be times when you’ll experience temporary physical, psychological, or emotional discomfort. In these moments of weakness, it’s only natural to want to waver on your commitment to the goals you set. But committing to your plan makes it possible to admire yourself both inside and out. You’ll stand more confidently. You’ll feel sexier. You’ll discover your true sense of well-being, purpose, and personal worth. You’ll feel grounded, energized, and intact. You’ll simply be happier in mind, body, and spirit.
Here are five ways to help you get you back on track and committed to achieving your goals even on days when you’re struggling:
1. Change the internal conversation: undervalue the bad times and overvalue the good ones
We have been conditioned to harp on our mistakes and gloss over our successes. It’s time to change the internal conversation and pay more attention to the things that bring us confidence so that we can continue to live a fun, healthy, and energetic life.
In sports, professional athletes and coaches often say that the person who wins is usually the person who can best recover from errors. Top athletes have learned to identify their mistakes, but instead of dwelling on them, they quickly learn from them and move on. They also take the time to pat themselves on the back for all of their achievements, both big and small.
When life gets in the way of sticking to your training or nutrition plan, take one minute for positive personal reflection. Identify the key things you could do better next time to prevent this off day. Then, focus on at least one achievement you have already made that day (or perhaps yesterday). Use your past achievement to give you the confidence and energy you need to make your very next meal or training session a positive one.
2. Change the environment
Having an off day can cost us the motivation to exercise and eat healthy. Instead, we crave instant gratification in an unhealthy, overflowing bowl—or carton—of ice cream or an extra hour on the couch. Fortunately, there is a quick fix to this problem.
Research continues to prove that motivation and productivity increase with a change in environment. A change can be just as good as a rest.
Any type of change, such as stepping outside for some fresh air, turning on motivational music, or finding a new healthy recipe, can spark some motivation to move forward toward achieving your goals.
Whenever you feel a lack of energy and inspiration, change up at least one aspect of your environment and experience what it’s like to have your batteries recharged and motivation restored!
3. Use the five-minute just move rule
Sometimes, the hardest thing to do is get up and start to move. However, once you start moving, it releases feel good, motivating hormones like dopamine and endorphins. When this happens, you’ll find it much easier to keep going.
During off days, make a deal with yourself to commit to five minutes of fitness. Most often, five minutes is all it will take to get the heart pumping and the energy flowing, inspiring you to stay for the entire training session. Also, it’s okay if you don’t have 100 percent effort to give that day. If you only have 50 percent, do your best to exert all of it. I guarantee you’ll be proud of yourself and your off day will be long gone.
For nutrition, if you don’t feel like spending 20 minutes in the kitchen preparing a healthy meal, commit to grabbing something simple to eat, such as a glass of Shakeology that’s satisfying yet still healthy.
4. Post your goals on your bathroom mirror
Posting your short-term daily goals in a place where you automatically see them each day will help you to stay focused, motivated, and committed to staying on task. Your bathroom mirror is the perfect place because you’ll see your goals first thing in the morning and right before you go to sleep at night.
For greater results, also post your primary purpose for setting your goals (e.g., wanting to have more energy to play with your kids, to go on an adventure trip, to live longer, to feel more confident, etc.).
5. Prepare daily for “what-ifs”
Before your day begins, ask yourself if there are any challenges that may interfere with your daily goals. For example, what if you get called in to a last-minute lunch meeting? What if your child asks you to play during the time you blocked off for training? What if you’re going out to celebrate a friend’s birthday? For each what-if make a plan to cope with the challenge while still staying committed to your fitness and nutrition. Of course, there are plenty of uncontrollable distractions, but strategizing on how to cope with your most common challenges will set you up to deal with anything that happens during you day.
Off days do not have to completely throw you sideways. With these tips, you can quickly recover from an off day and keep moving forward with the confidence and excitement you need to live the life you want.