For the last few weeks, the gym has been your second home. You’ve been sticking to your eating plan, making healthy choices and turning away from old habits with no sweat. Friends and coworkers comment on the changes your body has made. Crystal Light is your new best friend. You’ve even found hairstyles that will allow you to be cute and a gym rat at the same time. Then something unexpected happens. You pull a hamstring; a friend visits from out of town; you go out of town on business; or, the dreaded round of holiday parties wreaks havoc on your eating habits. Before you know it, you’re off the wagon and struggling to get back on. It seems impossible to do sometimes, but it doesn’t have to spell the end of your progress.
Start from where you are
You don’t have to start from the beginning, from square one. Whenever we fall off the wagon, our minds repeat the message that starting back means starting over. This is a trick our minds play on us to keep up the status quo. You see, you may want to fit into your favorite jeans from college, but your mind does not. Your mind wants your body to digest the same foods its been digesting, perform the same actions its been performing, and basically not make any big changes to your pattern of habits. The mind is a thing of habit and its been firmly entrenched in your current habits. It makes it hard for you to consciously make changes to those habits. So when an opportunity comes for your mind to resume previous, comfortable habits, it will do so. Whenever your thoughts drift into ones that discourage you from going back into the gym, from throwing out the junk food thats mysteriously appears in your cabinets, or any other way in which your mind plays tricks on you, don’t despair. Just continue moving forward from the exact place where you are.
When you get back into the gym, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how easy it is for you to resume your regimen. Your mind may convince you that reconditioning your muscles and rebuilding your endurance will be mentally and physically painful. I’m urging you to start from where you are because your bodies and muscles have an internal memory – you’re not actually reconditioning from the ground level. You’ll probably be close to the level of fitness that you stopped at.
Really, the biggest struggle here, is with mindset.
Because your mind has lapsed into old patterns of thought, your work is really to bring your mind back around to the place you left off. The problem is, its generally harder to get back on the wagon because your mind is prepared for this assault – you’ve been here before – so it takes more convincing to do the same things with ease that you previous did. One way to combat this struggle with your mind is to introduce a new aspect to the habit you’re working to reestablish.
Add something new to the mix
I personally struggle with the quest to get fit. While currently climbing back on the wagon, I added time on the elliptical machine to my cardio routine. This has not only given me a new challenge to complete, but it also gives me something new to look forward to during my gym sessions. Adding this new component also gives my mind a new aspect to grapple with, and its more difficult for my mind to come up with excuses for this new thing. It can’t highlight the things that are difficult or unpleasant about it, because I haven’t experienced it before. And it can’t irrationally tell me that this new aspect won’t work or that I’m not good at it either, because its something I had never tried.
We all fall off the wagon sometimes. Its not the failure thats important, but your willingness to get back up and keep working at your goal until you succeed.
What are some of the methods you incorporate to get back on the wagon?