[Guest Post by LaToya Gay]
Staying fit takes dedication and hard work. These are two of the reasons so many let it fall by the wayside.
Even if you make it a priority, it can still be easy to get off track, especially during the holidays and during the cold months of winter.
If you’re like most people, you’re often too busy with planning events and travel to keep your health a priority.
What’s worse, if you’re surrounded by people who aren’t focused on healthy living, it’s easier to slip in an extra snack or choose a burger over a salad.
Of course, skipping one day at the gym or eating one cookie won’t destroy your habits. However, if the only place you wear sweatpants is at home and you’re reaching for a bag of chips more than vegetables, it might mean your fitness program is off track.
It isn’t always so obvious when you get off track, and for many, it’s a gradual process. So what are some signs you might have gone off the rails of your fitness program?
5 Ways To Tell Your Fitness Program is Off Track
1. You’re Eating Unhealthy Food
A balanced diet means a healthy variety of vegetables, fruits, nuts/seeds, and some protein.
While the occasional indulgence won’t throw you off track, the more you rationalize them, the greater your chances of reintroducing them into your diet again.
There’s a lot of reasons why we turn back to unhealthy foods:
- Stress: Many people “stress eat”. More often than not, they turn to food that makes them happy, such as ice cream, cookies or chips.
If you are a stress eater, rather than try to stop the urge, change what you eat. Instead of grabbing a pint of ice cream in the store, go for a bag of baby carrots or fruit.
- Hunger: When we’re hungry, we tend to make worse food decisions than when already sated.
It’s also easier to grab a bag of chips or eat at a fast-food restaurant than to remember to bring healthy snacks or lunch to work.
So what can you do?
The best thing is to have your snacks and meals prepared ahead of time. That way you can just grab it and eat when you’re hungry.
- Peer pressure: Perhaps you’ve been invited to a lot of events that are chock full of unhealthy food such as cake or cookies.
You rationalize to yourself that you have to eat what’s offered or it would be rude.
Or perhaps you take a lot of client lunches. Whatever the reason, you feel pressured into eating unhealthy food.
The best thing you can do is plan ahead.
If you’re attending a catered event, make sure to note your preferences. For lunches, pick a place that offers healthy options. If the client chooses, don’t feel bad for ordering a salad.
2. You Don’t Remember the Last Time You Went to the Gym
Exercise is an important component of a healthy lifestyle.
While most people understand this, the majority don’t make time for it in their schedule.
There’s always an excuse not to go to the gym…
- It’s too cold outside.
- It’s too crowded.
- I don’t have time.
- I don’t like working out in front of people.
You’ve been telling yourself something similar and have talked yourself out of going. And the longer you stay away, the harder it is to go back.
However, time and even the weather are not real excuses, especially since you can work out in the comfort of your home!
There are plenty of YouTube fitness channels you can follow if you don’t want to go to the gym.
The best part is that with the use of a good Virtual Private Network, you can access your favorite YouTube videos anywhere in the world. So even if you’re on a business trip or vacation, you can still get your workouts done.
If time is a concern, you can always fit in quick five- to ten-minute workouts.
3. You’re Not Motivated
Maybe when you first started your fitness journey, you were eager to work out, track your progress, and even research.
Now, however, you can’t muster the enthusiasm to make a home-cooked meal or do some cardio. You’d much rather catch up on episodes of your favorite show or browse the web.
Lack of motivation might be easy to spot, but the reason behind it may not be quite as cut and dry.
There are a lot of reasons people lose motivation. One of the most common is creating a program that is too difficult to follow long-term.
After the initial glow wears off, many people fall off the program because they try to cram in as much as possible. Many people want to see results quickly, and when it doesn’t happen, they get discouraged.
Remember, fitness isn’t a quick fix; it’s a lifestyle change. That means you need to come up with a plan that suits your personality and current lifestyle.
If you constantly travel for work, setting a goal to make home-cooked meals every day is just setting you up for failure.
Of course, you don’t want to give yourself too much leeway. You need to find the right balance between challenging and too easy. Once you do, it will be much easier to stay motivated.
4. You’re Not Seeing Any Progress
At some point, you’ll hit a plateau.
Maybe, in the beginning, you were shedding weight easily; but now, you just can’t shake that last 10 pounds.
Or perhaps it feels like no matter what you do, you just aren’t seeing any changes.
Why does this happen?
Outside of actual medical issues, there are a couple of reasons you’re not seeing progress:
- You’re not tracking properly.
Ask any fitness coach and they’ll emphasize the importance of tracking both what you eat and your workouts.
This tracking provides you with raw numbers you can then use to see if what you’re doing works or not.
The caveat here is that you need to be completely honest.
In the beginning, you should track everything you eat and every workout.
What qualifies as a workout? It depends on your fitness level.
If you’re just getting started, something as simple as walking your dog for an hour can count. So write it all down.
More importantly, track your weight if you want to lose or gain.
- You’re not challenging yourself.
Fitness experts will tell you that you need to switch up your workout every day to shock your muscles. Why?
When exercising, you’re straining your muscles and putting them under stress.
Over time, your body improves its ability to handle the stress. That essentially means you burn fewer calories.
If you’re not varying your workouts, they will quickly lose their effectiveness. It doesn’t mean you have to do something completely different. The trick is to keep your workouts varied.
Challenge yourself to see how fast you can run a mile one day and the next push yourself to see how long you can keep running at a consistent pace. Mix in some different weight training routines to your repertoire.
You’re Exhausted All the Time
A good workout should leave you more energized, not tired. So what’s causing you to be tired?
One of the biggest issues: sleep.
A good night’s sleep is essential to a successful fitness program. The more tired you are, the more likely you will be to drop your workouts altogether.
Rather than change your sleep schedule drastically, do it gradually to get your body used to a new circadian rhythm.
What if you are getting plenty of sleep, but you’re still exhausted after a workout?
It might be that you’re overtraining your body.
If you are working out every day of the week with no rest days, then this might be your issue.
Resting is just as important as training, as it allows your body to recuperate.
Take a look at your schedule and make some room for rest. If that still isn’t working, consider reworking your exercise plan. This may mean varying your reps, weights, speed, and tempo of lifting.
If you’ve been off the wagon for quite a while, there’s no better time to get started than now.
So how can you get restarted?
- Find a fitness buddy. Going to the gym is more fun when you have someone to go with.
Also, it’s easier to stay on track when there’s someone else holding you accountable. If you don’t have a friend you can go with, join a local group to stay motivated.
- Remove any temptations. Why risk temptation by keeping pizza or cookies in the house?
Clear your cabinets of all the unhealthy junk, and also let your friends and family know you are eating healthy so they can stash the sweets when you visit.
- Set goals. Goal setting isn’t just for motivation. It also helps you to perform research and create a plan.
Be as specific with your goal as possible. If it’s to lose weight, note how much weight you want to lose and in what amount of time.
- Drop the soda. Soda is full of sugar and calories. Even the diet ones aren’t very good for you as they make you crave sweets.
Drop soda from your diet. This simple step can help you lose a lot of weight. And, while you’re at it, drop juice as well. Stick with water or tea as your beverages.
What are some other ways you know you’ve derailed and how have you gotten back on your fitness programs? Tell us in the comments below.
Latoya is a freelance technology writer and fitness enthusiast. When she’s not spending time in front of a computer screen, she’s cooking up healthy meals and moving her body. She’s happy to see that many technology companies are trying to make it easier for people to stay active and healthy.
Dr. Becky Gillaspy, DC graduated Summa Cum Laude with research honors from Palmer College of Chiropractic in 1991.