When you first change your diet and start an exercise program, it’s fun – you get to go shopping for different food, you get to search for and try out new recipes, you get excited noticing all the changes which happen pretty quickly… and, because it’s new, it’s your main focus!
But then, life gets in the way. Your focus shifts and, since your brain doesn’t have capacity to focus on everything all the time, you fall off the wagon. Everyone does. It’s very, very unusual for someone to make a big and permanent change to their lifestyle at the drop of a hat.
Picking yourself up again is tough, and is where many people lose several weeks or months trying to find the motivation to get going again.
You start noticing that you need to miss out on some things you used to enjoy – going for ice cream when you walked on the beach, or your favourite take away on a Friday night. And you start realising that to make life long changes to your body, you need to make life long changes to your lifestyle.
It’s HARD. This is why so few people stick with changes for the long term; so be kind to yourself.
My advice is to forget motivation. It comes and goes and it gets easier and easier to fall into something of a yo-yo dieting cycle – the ‘I’ll start again on Monday’ mentality.
Have a chat with yourself. Remind yourself why making the changes matters to you, and learn what price you are willing to pay – what are you willing to do day in, day out, forever in order to get, and stay, where you want to be?
Decide what you can commit to doing every week, then make it part of your routine and simply get on with it, no will power or motivation required. Read my piece about behaviour change for more on this.
It’s also important to know what you can not bring yourself to commit to. Whatever it is, it’s probably not the difference between seeing changes and not seeing changes, so make your peace, account for it, and move on.
The chances are, once you’ve battled your way through the first week back on track, you will feel unstoppable and start to feel your clothes get looser and the numbers on the scale get smaller again.