I fell off the wagon today
Slept in by 2 hours this morning, lost half the day and didn’t get to the gym.
I only did a quick bodyweight workout done at home. But that’s not where I really screwed up…
Whilst planning my week in D’nisis cafe over a coffee, I crumbled at the sight of the Christmassy looking cakes and got tucked into a big chocolate yule log.
Just don’t seem to be doing anything right. Fuck it, what’s the point?
I fell off the wagon today
But it’s cool, shit happens.
Had an awful sleep so I’m putting it down to that. I didn’t make the gym because I slept in but I did a workout at home instead.
Sometimes you just need to adapt and overcome.
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I had some chocolate yule log in the Cafe too (it was awesome).
If I’m honest, I had it because I was tired, feeling crap and still a little pissed off from a dumb argument I had with Leanne yesterday.
On the bright side, though, it reminded me how far I’ve come…
I used to eat cakes a lot. Especially if I was having a bad day (those days don’t happen so much anymore).
And I haven’t eaten any crap in a while, so I guess I’ve really turned my diet around for the better.
It’s all good, I’ll make my next meal a good one.
If there’s one thing I had to change to finally sort out my eating and get in shape, it was my level of thinking.
The way I choose to look at a situation, good or bad, every day.
Rather than quitting every time I fell off the wagon, I started asking myself questions like:
“why did this happen?”,
“why is this positive?”
“what’s the lesson here?”
and “how can I apply this lesson to tomorrow?”
The more I did this, the less guilty I felt about little slip-ups and my lack of perfection.
And the more consistent I was with building better habits into my life.
Many people say their biggest problem is ‘confusion’ and too ‘much information’ about fitness and nutrition online. It’s far from the truth.
Regardless of where you’re at, you know enough to make big improvements with your body and health. ..
You know it’s better to eat porridge with berries in the morning than grabbing a fried breakfast roll from a snack bar.
You know it’s healthier to have a chicken salad, wholemeal bread sandwich than a steak bake or chicken pasty from Greggs.
You know it’s more nutritious to have an apple than a cake or a mars bar for a snack.
But yet, you still do it.
I’ve never had a single coaching client who didn’t have enough fitness and nutrition knowledge to get themselves in much better shape and health.
And here I am, a trainer of 6 years and practicing nutrition coach of 1 year.
Despite all the knowledge and insight, I’m still eating cakes just because I’ve had a bad day.
You do it, I do it, we’re all screw ups to some degree…
And that’s ok
Because we’re human. With feelings, emotions, moods, and they often drive us more than anything else and no amount of knowledge can stop that.
(Plus, sometimes it’s just nice to indulge in a piece of cake regardless of reason).
The better we get at making good choices at the simplest level, the better our bodies look and feel.
Until you’re consistent with that, you really don’t need any fancy nutrition or fitness strategies.
So, inevitably, we’re gonna screw up from time to time.
In fact, it’s an essential part of developing more resilience.
The slip-ups give you an opportunity to become better or worse. Lemme explain:
Every action practiced for the human mind is a deposit in the ‘skill’ bank account. The more you practice, the more you strengthen it.
Eventually, we get so good at it, it kinda becomes autonomic (like learning to walk).
The bad news?
It works for the behaviors that take us further away from our goals, too.
Every time you choose to go right off the wagon, just because you made one mistake, and then start all over again at some point, the better you become at that skill (and the harder it becomes to unlearn it).
The good news?
It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been stopping and starting, going around in circles, you can trade any negative skill for a better one, with consistent practice.
Here’s 4 critical steps that have helped me stop stopping, and stay consistent with better habits:
Screw ups are gonna happen. The sooner you accept it, the sooner you become more consistent with the good stuff.
Progress isn’t about doing it perfectly, it’s about building better habits over a long period of time and falling off the wagon fewer times next year than what you do this year.
Whether you ‘screw up’ a few times per week or a few times per day doesn’t really matter, as long as you continue to do better than the previous you, that’s where it’s at.
When you find yourself nose deep in your favorite unhealthy grub. There’s no point feeling guilty about it.
The deed’s done, and at the end of the day, you chose to eat it to make yourself feel good so you may as well enjoy it. Ditch the guilt.
The real difference between the old me and my current self is that once I’d eaten one bad meal or missed a few workouts. I’d not see any point trying to eat better, or keep up with training.
So, I’d go crazy with abnormal amounts of fast food and sweets… (which made me feel sick, lethargic and even worse about myself).
I shrug it off and simply make my next meal a good one. If I can’t make the gym (even for a whole week) I just pick up from where I left off as soon as I can. It’ll help you to do the same, too.
We don’t need to do a perfect job. We just need to stop stopping. And stop starting again on Monday.
We make a lot of decisions based on how we feel. Our environment and who we spend our time with effects this…
If there’s junk in our cupboards, we’ll eat it because it’s there. If we’re tired, rushed or stressed out, we’ll eat crap food to make us feel better.
If we hang around with people with low standards, our standards drop to reflect theirs.
So, identify the tasks (and people) in your life that stress you out and get rid of them.
Take active steps to manage stress and sleep better.
Find people who raise your standards and bring out the best in you. Spend more time with them.
Ditch all the junk in your kitchen (today) and make healthy eating easy by keeping it stocked with healthier foods.
Remember, this is no overnight fix. Old habits die hard.
Focus on making small steps of progress, daily.
And take some time out more often to reflect, measure backward and remind yourself how far you’ve come.
The only person you need to compare yourself with, is you from last week, last month, last year.
Consistency over perfection.
Dean McMenamin is an Army veteran, father, dog-lover and online nutrition & exercise coach helping busy men transform their bodies, regain self-confidence and be healthier role models for their kids. He's also a big eater of ice-cream.