You know what you should be doing to be healthy, but you’re not doing it, and you can’t figure out how to get unstuck from the unhealthy rut.
Maybe you’re eating too much, you’ve stopped exercising, you’ve overindulged on Halloween candy or eaten everything at the holiday parties, your normally healthy eating habits have turned unhealthy, or your other healthy habits have just disappeared. Or, maybe all of those things.
First of all, drop any shame, judgment, or self-blame; it happens to all of us. Sometimes it’s caused by stress, overwhelm, a triggering event, social pressure, or just the season and all the temptations around. Don’t sweat it. A few days–even a few weeks–isn’t going to ruin all the good that you normally do for your body.
Instead of trying another crazy cleanse or crash diet, and being annoyed at yourself when you fall off the wagon again or end up gaining more weight, think about a different way to get healthy this time. Consider an approach to getting your healthy habits on track that will serve you for the long term and actually help you get healther.
When you’re ready to get unstuck and get back to your healthy habits, these ideas will help.
1. Get Enough Sleep
Sleep not only resets our willpower and decision-making muscle, it also helps rebalance cortisol and blood sugar levels. Studies have found that people who don’t sleep enough tend to eat more calories, both as a need to boost energy and because their decision-making ability is impaired.
If you want to stop eating so much, stop going for sweets and get off the blood sugar roller coaster, have the energy to exercise, reduce brain fog and improve mood, confidence, outlook, and productivity, then make sure to get 7-8 hours of quality sleep every night.
2. Drop the Negative Thoughts
While it may seem like the more you belittle and criticize yourself for falling off the wagon or your body for gaining weight, the harder you’ll work to get back on track, it actually doesn’t work like that. Think of a child; which elicits better behavior: criticism and harsh words or praise and positive reinforcement? The same is true for yourself and your body.
Negative thoughts also contribute to stress, and stress leads to weight gain.
With this in mind, it’s time to turn up the volume on the loving thoughts: praise, joy, gratitude. Tell your body how much you love her and how beautiful she is. Praise yourself when you choose the side salad over the fries, when you make it to the gym, when you get to sleep early, or even just breathing and keeping you alive. Express gratitude for all that your body and brain do for your everyday.
When we love and appreciate something, we want to treat it well. And that means healthier habits and doing the things that make us feel healthy, happy, and good in our bodies.
3. Join a Competition or Accountability Group
A number of research studies have found that people who have accountability partners or are in a competition lose more weight than those who aren’t.
Having to check-in with someone, whether a friend, family member, or online buddy, may be enough to get you unstuck and help you reinvigorate your healthy habits. If you’re externally motivated, having someone to report to may be the key to staying on track.
If competition isn’t your thing (perhaps it causes your eating issues to become worse), look for an accountability partner who is especially empathetic, loving, and supportive. Or, if you’re internally motivated, continue on to number 4.
4. Utilize a Quick Tool
A quick tool is used to ensure you do what’s needed to accomplish your health goals (and is typically used in times of weakness or challenging moments). This isn’t a quick fix. In health, eating right, and weight loss, quick fixes sabotage in the long run.
To illustrate a quick tool, let me share a couple examples.
Example 1: You’re trying to get to bed on time because of all the reasons listed above and because it sets up the next day for success. Yet, no matter how much you tell yourself it’s important to sleep, you don’t realize you’ve been working/watching TV/playing Candy Crush until 1 am and therefore only get 5 hours of sleep. You need a quick tool: a bedtime alarm (or reminder on your phone) to tell you to stop what you’re doing and get ready for bed and go to sleep. Simple, quick, and if you observe it, effective.
Example 2: You’re trying to snack less because you’re not really hungry and you know you don’t need the extra sugar or calories. Despite intellectually knowing this, snacks are a welcome distraction from a stressful day and a pick-me-up when your energy or mood are low. So, instead, choose a quick tool: BeLight Tea to curb cravings, boost energy, and relax and distract you from the workday stress. One quick swap reduces sugar and calorie consumption and is still satisfying.
Quick tools help to divert unhealthy patterns towards healthy patterns. They help you do what you know should be doing for your health.
5. Choose One Thing and Do It
When you’re stuck in an unhealthy rut, making any kind of effort or progress can feel like moving mountains. If you’re running around stressed, sleep-deprived, and eating crap, doing anything to get healthy may feel totally out of reach. But if you’ve gotten this far, you know it’s absolutely necessary. You just need to do that one thing that will get everything moving and falling into place.
Maybe you choose the easiest healthy thing for you. For example, you’ve always exercised and yet in this rut, you’ve even stopped exercising. So, since exercise is the natural, easy habit for you, you start by working out again. Not by doing everything at once. Just the workout. Eventually all your other habits get on the healthy train with you because you’re feeling good moving your body.
Whatever is easiest for you, start there.
Or maybe you choose the most critical health thing for you. Perhaps you need to cut out all sweets and added sugars to get yourself off the blood sugar roller coaster. It may be the hardest thing for you, but it also may the most important to setting you up for success. In which case, you’ll probably need the sleep, willpower, quick tools, and every smart decision-making resource at your disposal to help you power through a few days of no sweets until you break the sweet tooth.
Whatever critical move for your health that you can muster in this situation, do that. It may even be meditation, a gratitude practice, or journaling, if it gets you in the right frame of mind and body.
For me, it’s a 24-36 hour fast. Since my digestion affects how I sleep, how much energy I have, how I feel in my body, and even my food choices, if it’s having issues and I’m stuck in an unhealthy rut, I know I need to fast to reset my digestion. Yet, that long of fast when I’m facing cravings, hunger, feeling gross in my body and digestion, seems totally impossible. But I know it’s the one thing that will get me restarted on the health path I want to be on.
Choose your thing and do what it takes to make it happen so you can get back on track.
When you’re truly stuck in an unhealthy rut, putting in any effort can feel futile. But it doesn’t have to be. Just be smart and strategic about it: start with sleep and self-love. That foundation will set you up to make the next steps to getting your healthy habits back on track.
To your health!
Comment: If you’ve ever been stuck in an unhealthy rut, what have you used to get unstuck? Did you wait it out or do you have a trick, tool, or method to getting back on track? Let us know in the comments below.
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