4 Ways to Stop Being Inconsistent
Brandon poses with his hard earned 100 Workout T-Shirt
It’s is Monday morning and you don’t know if you're feeling motivated to get back on track with your nutrition and fitness plan, or if you are disappointed in yourself because it feels like you are starting over yet again…
We have all been there, including myself. And I have learned a few things that I would like to share with you to help prevent that situation, and create a plan to help you stay consistent so that you don’t feel like you are “Starting Over Again” each Monday. These four (4) thoughts and tips will help you feel confident and capable and help you reach your goals faster.
#1 Stop shooting for perfection:
Photo from Precision Nutrition
Trying to be perfect all of the time may lead to an All-of-Nothing-Mentality, which develops into a very negative and vicious cycle that may keep you from reaching your goals. It typically looks like this:
1. Your super motivated so you eat “perfectly” all week.
2. Saturday night you go out with friends for dinner and drinks.
3. 1 drink turns into 2, because you earned it! Right? You’ve been perfect all week!
4. Those 2 drinks leads you to over indulging in yummy desert with your friends.
5. You wake up feeling guilty, and you already "messed up" your diet plan, so you might as well keep going and start over Monday… You may even find yourself in “F*@k it” mode.
6. Now Sunday is lost to over indulging in all the “off-limits” foods.
7. Monday, you feel pretty crummy, both mentally and physically, but your motivated again because you had a “bad” weekend. And the cycle continues !
You can avoid, or stop, this viscous cycle by setting realistic expectations and targets and giving your self some grace. Precision Nutrition has shown that people can still lose 5-6% of their body weight by being anywhere from 10-49% compliant for 12 months with their nutrition goals. Raise compliance to 50-79% and 7% of body weight can be lost, 80-89% yields an average of 9-11% of body weight lost in 12 months. (https://www.precisionnutrition.com/body-transformation-research).
So what does that look like? If you eat 3 meals a day, 7 days a week, it comes out to 21 meals. 70% compliance means that 14.7 of those meals need to be optimal, and the other 6.3 can be less than. The moral of the story is that you can make major changes by being just a little more consistent and that perfection isn't necessary or helpful.
#2 Focus on your average speed and stop thinking about “bad days” as failures.
Similar to avoiding trying to be perfect, we recommend that you aim to be 80-90% compliant with your nutrition goals (and like we learned above even if you end at 50% and keep going, you will still be successful). This allows for 10-20% of what we like to call savor meals. We use the phrase “savor meals” over “cheat meals” because psychologically “cheating” makes you feel guilty and shameful; and we don’t want you to feel guilty for eating foods that you enjoy and that connect you to life. In fact, finding how those foods can fit into your goals will help you stay consistent, and raise your average speed!
We all have good days and bad days, because we are humans and life is messy. When you give yourself permission to stop feeling like bad days are failures, you can see "off" days as a pit stop along your journey and an opportunity to learn about yourself. Acknowledging the who, what, where, when and why of your relationship with foods gets you into problem solving mode, not "f@ck it" mode. You can have off days and still keep momentum moving forward.
Here is a personal example for how I keep my average speed up in situations where I used to pump the breaks on my goals. I have a problem with snack foods, or hors d'oeuvres , at parties. Every time I walk by that damn table I take a few handfuls and eat more than I want for my goals. After 30+ years I have found that I eat more when I’m super hungry, stressed out, and just letting loose with family. So I have come up with plan to eat a "right for my goals" snack before I go to parties, and when I am there I make a plate of snacks and then walk away to eat. I only get more food if something was absolutely delicious or I am still hungry. Am I perfect, no; but my average success is higher than it used to be, and I can usually see what went wrong if I have a "bad day".
#3 Measure your progress over a longer period of time.
In order to get where you're going, you have to know where you have been. But when it comes to tracking progress it can be a double edged sword. On one side it’s nice to see your results because success breeds more success; but on the other side growth isn’t always linear and that can lead to frustration and doubt. The human body fluctuates daily based on many factors, but most importantly weight and energy levels are affected by sleep, hydration, nutrition, and stress. This can lead to swings, and stagnation, in your daily and/or weekly results. That is why it’s better to consider a month to month comparison, or even longer period of time, when tracking change in the human body.
I got into the habit of weighing myself on the InBody weekly. I would be super excited and motivated when my numbers improved, or pist off and grumpy when they didn’t. I tried not to let the numbers define me, but I set a numbers goals (not always the best approach), and they definitely had an effect on my mood. After a while, I had enough weigh-in’s to compare to the monthly trends and I would see that they were improving. Some weeks I thought I was doing great, but when the numbers didn’t show that, I would be upset. But when I compared those numbers to the previous month they were showing progress! So, take it from me and measure your progress over a longer period of time. And don't place your worth in the number on the scale.
#4 Create a "Guilt-Free Get Back To It" plan:
When you start a new health and fitness path you have all of the motivation in the world to get started, push through some hard times, and get tunnel vision on our goal. You forget that you are human and that life isn’t always going to go as planned. To combat that, and avoid being upset that you are “starting over again”, we encourage you to create a "Guilt-Free Get Back To It" plan. (Notice that I said get back to it, and not starting over!).
1.) Schedule or Couple Process Goals: When you set your goal, try to also create several process goals that will help you accomplish it. For example, if your goal is to lose weight; a process goal may be that you schedule 4 workouts per week, really actually schedule it. The days, times, locations... all the details. Make it apart of your week just as you would your work and kids schedule. That way, if you miss a day because life got busy (shocker), you know you will be ok because you already have your next workout scheduled for tomorrow.
Not all process goals fit neatly into your schedule so we recommend coupling them with something that you already do. If you’r trying to stay hydrated by drinking more water, bring your water bottle with you to your work station. It will be a constant reminder to drink your water because you will see it all day.
2.) Stick to your schedule no matter what: I know that life happens and you cant always stick to the plan 100% of the time, but there is something positive about never skipping your process goals. Now, this sounds like I'm telling you to ignore everything I just wrote above, but I'm not. When the dials in life get cranked up to 10, other priorities can dial down. Say you have a parent/teacher meeting at the same time as your scheduled workout. No problem, as soon as the call is over, or even before hand, do 25 bodyweight squats, or take a 15 minute walk outside. You still get that workout in and your actions were still in line with your goals. It doesn’t matter that you didn’t get the full workout, you are still keeping up the habit of working out at 4pm, and your body and mind love the consistency. And celebrate that you got something done too!
3.) Have a group of people who are expecting you: No matter how much you may be introverted, having that extra layer of accountability and community goes a long way. If you miss a workout at AMPT we will reach out to you to make sure that you’re ok. If you miss several workouts, the same people who workout with you will be reaching out to make sure that you’re ok. Having a community will not only keep you accountable but it will also add another reason to show up. You build friendships and the workouts become a part of your social life as well. Having a place where others are expecting you is a very powerful force to help you get back to it.
There you have it, four (4) ways that you can stop “Starting Over” and stay consistent with your goals. Remember to make it apart of your day, focus on your average pace, measure your progress over time, and create a plan to get you back to it when life gets busy. It is not a matter of if, but when life throws you a curve ball. And I hope these help you feel prepared!
Ps... If your looking for that extra layer of accountability and community, and you would like to try a personalized fitness program, please reach out to us and get started with your free Strategy Session and your AMPT Fitness Low-RiskTrial!