What To Do When You Fall Off The Healthy Eating And Fitness Wagon?
A few weeks ago, I met up with some old friends that I hadn’t seen for about a year. From what I’d seen on social media, they were all now committed vegetarians. Not militant, but definitely dedicated. They were also gym bunnies, too. I was pleasantly surprised.
When I met up with them, though, they told me a very different story.
“We’ve kinda fallen off the wagon,” they said in unison, looking at one another sheepishly.
“I was vegetarian for about a month, but beef burgers are my weakness,” confessed another.
“I work so many hours at the moment that I can’t find the time to go to the gym,” admitted another.
I agreed that it isn’t easy for anyone to stay on the healthy eating and fitness wagon, especially if such a lifestyle is entirely brand new. I’ve been there myself; I’ve committed to healthier eating and gym regimes, only to give up a few weeks later thanks to sore muscles and junk food cravings.
But it got me thinking: How does one get back on the wagon after falling off? Using mine and others’ experiences, I came up with a few top tips so that you can get right back on the horse after falling off. Let’s take a look!
Don’t Do Too Much Too Soon
When we make the decision to start eating healthily after years of eating junk, lots of us have a tendency to approach our new diet full tilt. We kick every single treat – cakes, sugar, salt, cookies, fizzy drinks et cetera – leaving ourselves with nothing but spinach and muesli.
While this sounds good in theory, it just doesn’t work all the time in real life. Resentment can quickly set in, until eventually we throw away our greens in a fit of anger and march to the nearest fast food restaurant.
If you’ve fallen off the wagon, it’s a good idea to return with baby steps. Allow yourselves some treats now and then; don’t become a militant but instead go easy on yourself. Going hardcore straight away works for some people, but it certainly doesn’t work for us all.
Make realistic changes to your lifestyle. Set small but incremental and actionable goals that you know you can attain without feeling miserable as you munch on a celery stick on Friday night in your sweats.
Working out in the gym is not all that hard. Seriously, it isn’t. The hardest part is turning up in the first place.
“90% of success is just showing up.”
– Woody Allen
Eating healthily after years of eating junk, though? Now, that’s hard.
One of the reasons you might have fallen off the wagon is because you underestimated just how much effort was going to be needed. No longer do you have to simply heat up a TV dinner in the microwave; instead, you have to actually research recipes, shop for obscure herbs, spices and vegetables, cook your own dinner and clean up after yourself.
It’s hard work!
If all this became too much for you last time around, it’s important that you now work out a strategy so that it’s easier this time around.
Create hacks that will help you to eat healthier without melting down. Figure out a few shortcuts that will make cooking more efficient. Strategise like a boss so that you don’t feel as though your new diet is taking up most of your time.
Healthy eating should be something that makes you feel good, not something that stresses you out.
And when all else fails, you can always eat out somewhere healthy two or three times a week.
Have Some Patience
Just like Rome wasn’t built in a day, you’re not going to see immediate results. If you fell of the health and fitness wagon because nothing seemed to be happening and therefore “what’s the point!?” remember that patience is key here.
You need to invest in the long-term rather than short term highs. Ignore fad diets that promise you the earth tomorrow and set long-term goals that you can work towards over the course of a few months, or even a whole year.
Plan A Budget
A common response from someone who has fallen off the healthy eating wagon is that eating healthily is “way too expensive.”
Each time I hear this response, I have to wonder where on earth they are shopping. I have lived most of my adult life as a meat eater and only a short part of it as a vegetarian, and I can safely say that shopping for healthy food is a lot less expensive than shopping for unhealthy food.
There are ways to eat healthy on a budget. You could stock up on starchy carbs which are both filling and cheap, and you could also buy fresh vegetables and fruit.
But perhaps the best hack of all is this: Make your own sauces and soups! If you prepare big bowls of sauces and soup, you can make your food stretch a lot further. Lots of people buy canned items, use them once and then throw them away. Repeat and rinse.
But this is incredibly expensive. Do a bit of research and always plan your budget each week.
Get A Friend Involved
My two friends who I met a few weeks ago admitted they were gym buddies but as soon as one of them moved to a different city, both of them lost the motivation to workout. They’d lost their buddy and, more importantly, they’d lost a key accountability tool.
If you’re struggling to get motivated to go to the gym because you really don’t wan to workout on your own, why not ask a friend to come along with you? You’ll be surprised at how willing someone is to exercise regularly if they know they can do it alongside a friend. You’ll be doing both of you a favour!
Working out alongside a friend makes it a lot more enjoyable.
Stay happy and healthy!