The other day I woke up exhausted. I didn’t feel like working out and all I wanted to do was eat.
The problem is I am dieting right now for a bikini competition, so I had my meals planned out and prepped and I knew I was not supposed to go over on calories.
On this particular day I was too tired to summon the motivation. I just didn’t. have. the energy. Rather than fight that urge I gave in and said “screw it.” I went off my diet.
And once I had gone off a little… I just didn’t see the point in trying to stay on plan the rest of the day. I had blown it already, so why not just keep going??
By the next day I felt better and had come to my senses, remembering my long-term goals and why I was dieting in the first place. I recommitted and got back on track. The sad part is – the damage was already done. That week I did not lose any weight even though I stuck to my diet the rest of the days. I actually gained a pound!
Yes, you can gain fat with one bad day of eating and you can blow a week of dieting with one all-out overboard day. Does this mean when that happens you should give up altogether?
There are going to be good days and there are going to be bad days. One bad day (even two or three) is not worth tossing out all the good days.
If you have a goal, whether it is to compete, lose weight or get healthier, your goal is more powerful than food.
Sometimes you will be weak and in those moments the food will win. But tomorrow is a new day, and tomorrow the food will not win.
Too often we have an “all or nothing” mind set with dieting. When we can’t commit 100% and stay completely on track, we say “what’s the point” and go 180 degrees in the opposite direction, skipping the gym and eating anything and everything.
There are going to be times when you’re super motivated and killing it, and there will be times when you have a lot else going on and can’t be 100% focused or motivated on diet and exercise.
That’s okay. It’s called normal.
But even in those times when you cannot be 100% on and the best you can give your healthy lifestyle goals is maybe 50% or less, you can still make progress.
Even if you’re not able to give your all, it is still worth it to give some.
My husband and I have a saying. “It’s better than zero.” If we were hoping to bring on ten new clients and we only brought on two, rather than being discouraged we say “two is better than zero.” And it is.
Another way of thinking about this is big rocks vs small rocks. In your healthy living journey there are big rocks and small rocks. Big rocks might be losing 50 pounds, being able to dead lift twice your bodyweight, or eating healthy 90% of the time. Small rocks are things like getting to the gym three days this week, adding five pounds to your squat or choosing a lower calorie meal than you normally would at a restaurant.
If you spend all your time thinking about the big rocks you will become overwhelmed because they are BIG and it will seem impossible to move them. Small rocks take much less effort to move which makes them a lot easier to tackle.
Focus on small rocks 90% of the time, and eventually they add up to the big rocks.
Each time you set out to move a big rock and you succeed, you will feel better about your ability to do it again. Willpower and motivation are just like muscles. You have to use them to make them grow and the more you use them the bigger they get!
Here are my top three tips for having success with small rocks:
1. Set realistic expectations. If you think you should be going to the gym 5 days a week but you know you can only get there once, don’t start the week telling yourself you will go every day. Choose one day and make a point to go. Then be glad you accomplished that goal you set for yourself. Feelings of accomplishment and success build motivation.
2. Do what you can. Sometimes there are legitimate reasons why you can’t get food prepped, get to the gym or plan meals. It does happen. But there is always something you can do. Whether it’s packing a lunch each day or simply working on portion control, you can do something. It doesn’t have to be big and it may not even seem like it’s going to make enough of a difference to be worth the effort, but even small efforts add up big over time.
3. Choose short-term goals. We all have things we want to accomplish in the long-term (big rocks) but it can be hard to stay motivated by a goal that won’t be accomplished for months, especially when things get tough or life gets in the way. Setting goals with a shorter time frame helps you stay focused and motivated for a shorter length of time, and again builds confidence when you are able to achieve them. Some examples of short-term goals could be losing two pounds in the next two weeks, tracking all my food every day for one week, or making time to workout every day for ten days.
Remember, small rocks move faster than big rocks. Little efforts add up over time and something is always better than zero.
Understand this healthy lifestyle thing is a journey. For life. There are going to be hills and valleys, times to be very focused and times when diet and exercise have to take a back seat. But they should never be abandoned completely.
I like to compare it to inertia. Objects in motion stay in motion. As long as you’re keeping up even small habits towards your larger goals, you will keep pushing. When you stop completely it is SO much harder to get started again.
Expect bad days. They will come. But expect good days too. When bad days happen try not to dwell. Accept them and move forward. Try again tomorrow.
Believe in yourself above all else. If you believe you can, you will, and if you believe you can’t, you don’t.