With every ending, there is a new beginning. Ending can be sad or a relief depending on your perspective. This week I am finishing a 90 day challenge I started in March. As I look back over the 12 weeks and look forward to my next challenge, I am taking stock of what I did right and what I will do differently next time. Can you guess what my biggest obstacle was? You guessed it, ME! I judged myself against my standards of perfection and my mind played many tricks on me.
Every time I judged myself, my failure grew exponentially.
When I set out I had the BEST intentions! I was going to work out 6 days a week and be back in the best shape of my life. I was going to eat perfectly clean for 3 months and blow myself away with my results. Then real life happened. There were days when I was exhausted from…I don’t know, work, motherhood, PMS whatever, and I missed workouts. I declared myself a slacker. Feeling bad about having slacked I reached for comfort food, which inevitably is not very clean. There were times that I was mindful of my emotional state and had some control. I wrote a post about it! Wanna read it? Here it goes!
However, during the other much more private times, I ate until I felt better. Everyone cheats and we all feel guilty after. However, my guilt as the leader of a fitness challenge and “fitness professional” was devastating. Having eaten, what I judged to be, terrible food I would resolve to work out twice as hard the next morning. The thing is, when you eat crappy food, you feel crappy. Hence, the morning after I was abnormally tired. Additionally, I was mentally out of the game because I believed I was a piggy slacker. Anyone know the feeling? My cheats allowed my horrible inner critic to judge me and pronounce me a complete and total fraud.
The mind is very powerful.
With our thoughts and breath, we control our emotions and our physical being. It is a power that can cut both ways. Our thoughts can lift us up or depress us. The more I negatively judged myself the worse I felt. That unhappiness would seep into every aspect of my life, just as the sense of confidence informed my existence when I stuck to my fitness routine. Negative self-judgment is a poison to the day. Has this ever happened to you? Let’s stick with health and wellness, but it could be any promise you didn’t honor. You feel bad about that cheat meal and your mood goes down. You have less tolerance for other people, kids, spouses and other drivers especially. Everything grates on your nerves because of the guilt about not honoring your agreement to stay away from cheesecake. All the irritability causes you to say things that make you feel guiltier and the next thing you know you are on the couch with Oreos and a empty pint of Häagen-Dazs. You don’t even remember eating it all. A 300 calorie cheat just turned into a 3000 calorie catastrophe! There has to be a better way! Right?
Perfectionism will bring your progress to a complete halt.
Far too often, we view fitness and nutrition in very black and white ways, when the reality is life is not black and white. Your food and activity levels are your life. There is no way you will work out 6 days a week and to stick to eating 1500 calories a day every day for the rest of your life. It is impossible to keep that agreement with yourself. Making that agreement sets you up for failure. Each day and week becomes and all or nothing proposition. If you are not perfectly on point then you are a failure. If you eat 1600 calories, your inner critic judges the day a flop and the cycle begins anew. Monday and Tuesday’s workouts did not happen because of a sick child and part of you feels your fitness week is a waste. You give yourself no credit for being a great parent/nurse. You solely judge yourself for not keeping to your routine. Perfectionism is the reason you take 2 steps forward, STOP and take 1.9 steps back.
Bodies and fitness goals need to be flexible.
To avoid the poison of self-judgment and perfectionism, make realistic goals.
- Create fitness and nutrition goals that take into account your current lifestyle and habits. Go for gradual improvement rather than an overnight overhaul. ~Do not commit to eating clean 7 days a week when you currently drink 5 Cokes a day and eat lunch at Mc Donald’s 5 days a week. A more attainable goal would be cutting down to 2 Cokes per day by substituting flavored water for the other 3 cans and getting healthy salads 3 out of 5 days at Mc Donald’s
- Get an accountability partner(s) ~ You’ll do much better with people supporting and encouraging you to achieve your goals. They will be kinder to you than you are to yourself. They will keep you focused. Trust me!
- Be in the present ~ If you made a less healthy nutrition choice, let it go with the last bite. Do not guilt yourself into a full on binge.
- Keep a log of your progress ~ When the negative voice starts telling you there hasn’t been progress or it’s not worth it, look at your before and after pics, or the chart with decreasing measurements and be proud!
As we enter into summer I know there are a lot of challenges starting and people doing some last minute summer shaping up. I hope that these tips with keep your mind positive and focused. You never know, a get fit quick plan may lead to a lifelong love of fitness and good nutrition!
If you have any other ideas for staying focused, please take a moment to comment!
If you’d like the support of other women living their most mindful lives, join my FB group : 30 Days of Meditation and Beyond
Wishing you much success and happiness!