Having a Dry July has great health benefits. We've brought together a collection of articles that could help you with your Dry July.
Kickstart Yourself Back Into Movement
By Leanne Hall on
We’ve all been there. Hitting the gym regularly, eating really well and feeling fabulous. Then it happens. Maybe we over eat at a work function, or take a week off the gym because we’ve been feeling unwell. Or maybe we just feel bored with our current fitness routine. Whatever the trigger, the result is the same. Motivation takes a drastic nose-dive and we find ourselves frustrated, and perhaps even depressed at the fact that we just can’t seem to pull ourselves together and get back on track.
So how can you get back on the health and fitness wagon? Well, here are my tips to help get you back to your healthy self again!
When motivation disappears, the first question you need to ask yourself is this: “Why?”
Identifying what went wrong gives you insight into what you need to change. For example, there is little point in trying to follow the same gym program if the reason your motivation plummeted is because you were bored, or not enjoying your exercise. Likewise, trying to follow a bland and boring eating plan is a sure way of ensuring that you will “slip up” and either over eat, or make unhealthy choices.
So instead of resurrecting the same old eating plan or fitness routine, shake things up a little and try something new and enjoyable!
Are you really going to get out of bed at 5.30am in winter to do boot camp? You need to be realistic, which may mean starting from scratch. Resuming an unrealistic health and fitness routine may work for a little while, but it ends up being exhausting and impossible to sustain. Remember, if you can’t maintain your routine long term then you can guarantee that “falling off the wagon” will become a regular thing!
Instead, think about setting up a routine that takes into account your lifestyle, and preferences. For example if you tend to work late during the week, plan ahead by having a “food prep” afternoon on the weekend. If you hate early mornings, schedule your workouts in the afternoon or lunchtime, and always make sure you schedule in 2 rest days per week.
Turn down your inner critic
While that little voice in your head that yells “I can’t” and “I’m a failure” may not be going anywhere soon, you can choose how much attention you give it. Turning down the volume means acknowledging your inner critic, but not giving it your attention. In most cases the inner critic represents a fear. Usually fear of failure, and of not meeting expectations. Remember, just because you fear something may happen, doesn’t mean it will happen (even if it HAS happened in the past).
So if you are confronted by a screaming inner critic each time you think of going back to the gym, try making it your friend – by acknowledging it, reassuring it, and then moving past it. Or, pick a phrase like “just do it”, and don’t give that inner critic a chance to change your mind ;-)
Set yourself up for success
If you are a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of person, you may find that sticking to a health and fitness routine falls to the bottom of the priority list.
This is where planning comes in. To start, you need to decide that your health is a priority. Only then can you schedule it in to your diary and set boundaries around the time that you allocate. Put your workouts and meal pre time (even grocery shopping) in your diary, and practice saying “no”. Having a big night of drinking the night before a morning work out is a sure way of setting yourself up to fail. Remind yourself of what your priorities are – and if that night out is more important, then change your workout the following day to the afternoon. Just don’t throw in the towel all together! You will regret it!
Reward reward reward
There is no better way to stay motivated (or get back on track again), than to set goals and then reward yourself when you achieve them.
If you’ve been off the wagon for a while, or if you are starting a health and fitness routine for the first time, it’s important to start small. Signing up for a 10km run might sound like the perfect goal – however if you can’t run more than 2km without feeling like you are about to pass out, then that “goal” can quickly turn into an excuse to give up.
Start by making 1-2 small changes/goals each week. Remember it takes several weeks for behavior change to become a habit, and roughly 6-8 weeks to change the preferences of your taste buds. This is the critical zone, where motivation is poor and the urge to give up is at it’s strongest. This is why setting small achievable goals is so important. By rewarding your success, you feel more confident in your ability to keep going.
Always remember: There is no such thing as perfect!
Research suggests that it takes several weeks of repetitious activity for a new behavior to become a habit. However, the same research also suggests that missing the odd day does not have a negative impact at all.
In other words, it’s ok to stuff up. In fact, it’s completely normal. The most important thing is what you decide to do next.
It’s common for a “slip up” to turn up the volume of your inner critic. “See, I knew you would fail again”. Sound familiar? This is an extremely common trigger for falling off the wagon.
So instead of listening to that inner critic again, recognize that the “slip up” has simply awakened your fear. By acknowledging this, and accepting that slip-ups are normal, you will be able to get back on the wagon the next day. It’s also important NOT to be overly restrictive or hard on yourself – this kind of self-punishment only serves to lower your self-esteem and increase guilt.
Finally, if slip-ups become regular, remember that it’s not you who have failed – it’s the diet/fitness routine that’s failed.
At the end of the day, it’s about finding what works for you. This may take some time, and trial and error – however by reflecting on why something may not be working, you will increase the likelihood of finding what will work. No more falling off the wagon!