This has come up a few times in conversations recently, so I thought I’d put up a little post…
When you are on the path of self-improvement — I am assuming that the changes you are making in your life are positive — besides not necessarily being easy, it is often a “two steps forwards, one step back” sort of process. My struggles with keeping the kitchen counter clear during the week illustrate this.
The critical step is not giving up at the “one step back” part.
Let’s run through a couple of scenarios:
If you have been working on your eating habits — let’s say to eat smaller portions — and you’ve been doing well and you go to a barbecue over the weekend and eat way too much and are stuffed… 1- Stop eating! 2- The next day, pick up the old (new) habits again. [If you have eaten too much food with some nutritional value, you probably won't need to eat as much the next day to feel sated. Listen to your body. It knows what it needs; we just have forgotten how to listen.]
If you have been working on your eating habits — let’s say to stop drinking soda — and you’ve been doing well and you go to a barbecue over the weekend and decide to have a soda… 1- That’s OK! 2- Just drink one! It is easy to fall into the “well, I’ve fallen off the wagon already anyway, so I might as well just keep going” mindset. Don’t be lured! If it is “impossible” for you to have one and not another, then don’t have one.
If you are getting into exercise and, for whatever reason, you miss a day or a week, get up and get back into it! It has been my experience that the longer you stay out, the harder it is to get back in. No excuses — just do it!
A personal anecdote: before I was diagnosed with cancer, I was exercising six days per week, usually at the gym, lifting weights, doing cardio. It felt great and was fairly easy to maintain. Cancer made that more difficult, and a blood clot (as a complication from hardware) made it impossible.
When the blood clot disappeared and I was cleared to exercise again, it was incredibly difficult for me to get motivated. Even though I knew I felt better when I exercised. Even though I knew once I got back on the wagon, I’d love it (because I’d done it already). All the knowledge in the world didn’t matter. I just needed to do it.
The habits you have didn’t form quickly, and the habits you’re trying to replace them with don’t form quickly, either. Don’t let a setback be a quitting line. Imperfection does not equal failure.
If you repeatedly or consistently struggle, it might be time to examine what you are doing, how you are doing it, and why you are doing it to see if there is perhaps a better route.
The only way to get something done is … well … to do it! Now go do it!