If you asked me about 8 years ago to join a wellness program with you, I would have said yes… but I would’ve also said “I’ll start next Monday… oh wait, is that the last week of the month? I guess I’ll have start on the first Monday of the next month… oh wait, my best friend wants to celebrate her birthday on Friday of that week, I’ll be drinking and eating crap so I guess I will start the Monday after that”. Before you knew it, I’d be making you wait an entire month to begin a wellness program, and I spent an entire month treating my body like crap waiting for that Monday to come.
Disclaimer: I do still love treating myself to pizza and the occasional staying up way too late and drinking a little too much wine, but I also know how important it is to myself to reach my goals.
While it makes sense to start focusing on health and wellness at the beginning of the week, month or day it also makes room for a lot of excuses and set backs.
Here is a common scenario for a lot of people: You start your day by going straight to the coffee shop on your way to work, you were running late and had no time to make breakfast. You order a bagel and a latte and scarf it down on the car ride to work. Then lunch comes around and your boss wants to order pizza to celebrate a huge win for the team, so you forget about your meal prepped salad in your lunch box and mindlessly gobble up a few too many slices of pizza. Then dinner rolls around and you figured since you already ate pizza and a bagel that you might as well top it off at dinner with your girlfriends with margs and greasy fried apps. Then you get home and while watching the latest episode of your favorite show, you pull out a pint of ice cream from the freezer. You just tell yourself “I’ll start over tomorrow”. You plan on eating a healthy breakfast and waking up early the next day for a run to “burn off all the food from the day before” <— one thing I used to tell myself all of the time. But instead you’re body is so exhausted from all of the processed foods you ate the day before, so you sleep through your alarm and yesterday repeats itself.
What happens when we “start tomorrow”?
Instead of treating ourselves to our favorite bagel or pizza with our coworkers, we over indulge. When your body is filled with processed foods and sugar, it creates brain fog, fatigue and digestion issues, all of which make it really hard to get up for your workout, stay focused at work and it makes us want to reach for more processed foods. We create this unhealthy mindset that once we go off track we need to stay off track until a new day or week begins. When we “go off track” for an extended period of time (or even a whole day) it makes it even harder to actually begin.
Start where you are.
Lets change the scenario from above a little bit. You woke up late and didn’t have time to make a healthy breakfast. You’ve been dying to try the new smoothie shop that is a block away from work. So you decide to stop and grab a smoothie and then you make coffee at work. Lunch rolls around and your boss wants to order pizza to celebrate a huge win for the team. You meal prepped a salad the night before so you decide to eat that first and then maybe if you have room you enjoy a slice of pizza with your coworkers to celebrate. Your girlfriends invite you to get apps and drinks after work, it has been a while, so you decide to go to catch up with everyone. You order one glass of wine and ask for a lighter app like salsa or hummus with veggies. When you get home after having a drink with your girlfriends, you roast some veggies and salmon and make extra for tomorrows lunch. You wake up the next morning and you are ready to go for a run and you have time to make a smoothie at home.
So how do you motivate yourself to just start?
If you are looking to find your motivation to workout and eat healthy, check out my Workout Motivation & Motivation in the Kitchen blog posts. Those 2 guides will help you discover your “why” and they will help you set up your goals.
When you have found your “why” and when you have your goals, now is when you discover how to stick with them.
When you go out with friends or when you go to a birthday party, you don’t need to start tomorrow- you can start with your next meal. It takes practice and patience with yourself, but you can learn to start where you are in that moment.
Often in the moment, when we are faced with things like a coworker ordering pizza or bringing in donuts, we forget about our goals. So how do we start where we are after having those processed meals?
While I love a food journal, it can be very triggering for some people to track meals. So I offer you a different approach: Keep a daily health and wellness goals journal. Instead of tracking what you’ve eaten, create daily goals for yourself. At the beginning of the day write down a goal for the day “drink more water” or “have a side of fruit with your eggs”. A great tip is if you know you are going to dinner with a friend, write down in your journal what type of meal you want to get and how you plan on eating afterwards. At the end of each day, write down how well you stuck to your goals, and track how you feel (tired, energized, bloated etc.). When you write down your goals at the beginning of the day, you are setting yourself up for success. When your goals are fresh in your mind in the morning, you’ll have a greater chance of remembering and sticking to them all day (even if you enjoyed a slice of pizza). When you track how you feel at the end of the day, rather than write everything you ate, you’ll want to nourish yourself with healthier foods the next day. If you take notice of how your nutrition choices made you feel, you’ll be more inclined to make better choices next time.
If using the health and wellness goals journal concept, I urge you to stray from any negative words in this journal (such as “i feel fat” or “i ate poorly” etc.) Please use this journal to simply describe how you feel and try to keep it a positive space for growth.
Next time you do/skip your workout, and next time you eat healthy/unhealthy, pay attention to how it made you feel. Often we get in the mindset “well I already ate this, this, and this so I might as well quit and start over another day”. I encourage you to focus on how you feel after eating and after you finish or don’t finish a workout. When you pay attention to how it made you feel, you’ll be motivated to make a better choice at your next meal NOT the next Monday.
I would love to know how you are keeping yourself motivated throughout the day! Let me know in the comments below!