It's a common scenario: the weight is finally coming off, your energy is up, and you're sleeping much better than you have in years. You feel great as you see things moving in the right direction. And then you start to get comfortable; you relax and slack off a bit on your health routine.
Your weekly dessert treat becomes a thrice-weekly treat. You find yourself exercising less and snacking more. Instead of winding down an hour before bedtime like you know you should, you're busy on your computer right before bed.
At first, you don't observe any noticeable changes, so you continue to relax things even more. And then, seemingly overnight (although in actuality, it's taken some time) you start to notice changes...
Those pants you could finally fit into now feel a little snug. Your energy is down, and you feel like you need an afternoon coffee to get you through the day. On top of that, it's taking longer for you to fall asleep at night. What happened? What went wrong, and how do you fix it?
Managing your health is a journey, not a destination.
Managing your health is a journey, not a destination. For many of us, it's precisely the times when we're doing well that we're most likely to slip up and fall back into old habits. We essentially get lulled into a false sense of security. As we enjoy the benefits of better health, we lose sight of the fact that those benefits are due to the changes we've made. So we ease up on the changes and start returning to our old ways. Before long, we're experiencing the old undesirable results that motivated us to make changes in the first place.
This is pivotal point in your health journey, and one that you may encounter more than once. It can be the start of a downward spiral, but it doesn't have to be. Here is a 5-step process to help you refocus and get back on track.
Step 1: Don't ignore things; do acknowledge the issues.
This is not the time to bury your head in the sand; ignoring things won't make them go away. Instead, acknowledge the issues honestly and fully. Take stock of what's going on and where you seem to be off track. Once you're clear about where you're currently at, you'll be in a position to do something constructive about it.
Step 2: Don't beat yourself up; do take responsibility with objectivity and understanding.
Now that you've acknowledged where you're at, don't fall into the trap of getting down on yourself and beating yourself up. There's no need or benefit to telling yourself negative messages like: "I'm such a loser, I'll never be able to change." Instead, take responsibility for your behaviour, but do so with objectivity and understanding, e.g.: "I've been slacking off lately, and I don't like the impact; but it's not the end of the world. I was doing well before, and I know I can get back on track again."
Step 3: Don't wait; do take action promptly.
It's always easier to deal with things in the early stages, before they escalate into bigger issues. So don't sit back, delay, or wait until things get worse, as that will only make it more difficult to get back on track. Instead, take action promptly to start turning things around.
Step 4: Don't stick with something that's not working for you; do update your health plan where necessary.
Our needs change over time; it may well be that your original health plan doesn't meet your current needs. Don't simply re-implement a plan that's no longer working for you. Do take the time to examine your plan to assess whether or not it's still a good fit, and make changes as needed. A few small tweaks and adjustments to your regimen (or possibly some major changes) might be just what you need to refocus with renewed energy and enthusiasm.
Step 5: Don't go it alone; do get help where you need it.
Have you reached a plateau you can't seem to get past? Do you find yourself getting stuck at the same point over and over again? Don't make things more difficult for yourself by trying to tackle everything on your own. Instead, take advantage of the many different kinds of resources available that can help you on your journey. It never hurts to have a fresh set of tools to draw on, and the right support may be the missing ingredient for you to stay on track and successfully achieve your goals.
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