Jun29Stop “Pressing Pause” on Your Health and Fitness

Tell me if any of these sentences sound familiar:

“I have a vacation coming up, I’ll resume when I get back.”

“We’re in the middle of moving, so I’m too busy right now.”

“It’s the busy season at work, so I’m going to back off of training right now.”

“I kinda messed up my diet, so I’m just going to wait till New Years.”

“I’m a part-time vigilante at night, so my schedule is booked.”

Well, aside from that last one, I think most of us have either heard or said something similar before (don’t worry, your crime-fighting secret is safe with me). Life, as we all know, doesn’t always go according to plan. It can throw a curve ball at us too hard to catch, and it especially gets in the way of our health and fitness goals. And while this pause-mentality seems reasonable, it can derail your progress and goals more than whatever reason you’re pausing it for.

 

Why Do People “Press Pause” on Health and Fitness?

Like I said above, life can throw problems at you and derail your plans. We know that working out and eating healthy is good, but it may seem like a luxury to some. So when something happens – like a pregnancy, a move, vacation, or busy season at work – people usually put their health on the back-burner. People usually think:

If I can’t commit all the way, I’m going to fail. I should wait until more time is available.

This is a logical way of thinking. Ever heard of burning your candle at both ends? It makes a lot of sense – if you can’t be 100% focused or committed, you might not get 100% of the results you want. “GO ALL THE WAY” is a dominating thought process in the fitness industry, and while it’s motivating, it doesn’t always work for us normal folk.

So you pause. You stop working out or trying plan your meals, and you fall into the same habits as before. What’s worse, you build the habit of continuous pausing. And that’s what many big box gyms offer sign-up specials around new year’s; they know that countless people will sign up, go for a bit, and then continue paying without using the membership. It’s why some programs offer fast results with “30 Day Shredz” or “20 Day Fat Fast”.

It’s OK to want to take a break to focus on something else that feels important. That shows that you want to commit real energy to your health, to make lasting change. But lasting change doesn’t happen by going all the way, all the time. Sometimes, all you need is something.

 

What To Do Instead

Let’s make up a fictional person (they are probably similar to many real people). Let’s call this client Marie. Marie has been training for about 6 months, and has seen some decent results. But now, she recently got promoted to a position that often requires her stay late at the office. The new position is also at a different site, so her family decided to move (it works with the husband’s job as well). She also has 3 kids that have after-school activities, and of course her husband helps, but they both lead busy work lives.

Marie was already a normal busy adult. With recent events, she became a whole lot busier. Now, it’s totally possible to continue training and staying on top of your fitness goals while leading a super busy life. People do it, but it requires very high commitment and mental fortitude that is hard to sustain. So most people in Marie’s position might think, “I don’t really have time to workout, so I’m just going to take a break and start fresh when this is all settled.” That’s a perfectly normal thought process, but it might cause more backtracking in your progress than you would think.

Let’s look at two different other options that will allow Marie to stay on track:

  • Option 1: continue to train normally (harder to sustain depending on lifestyle).
  • Option 2: cut back on training (if you were working out 5 x week for an hour, do 3 x week for 15-20 minutes).

Marie decides that option 1 is too hard to sustain, and will cause her to burn out quickly. So, she opts for option 2. Option 2 consists of workouts that she can do as soon as she wakes up, with minimal to no equipment necessary, 3 times a week. She does a quick 20 minute workout and heads off on her day, and all it requires is waking up 20 minutes earlier.

Is option 2 going to win you any physique competitions, or turn you into a superstar athlete? No. Is it going to allow you maintain some of your progress, and keep you in the groove of training? Yes! And when you do eventually have more time to commit to you fitness goals, you start from a better position, rather than starting from the very beginning. If you think of exercise as a dial, with 10 being the hardest and 1 easiest, pick a lower number that you can maintain. It could be the 3 x week workouts for 20 minutes that we explained above, or it could be more walks with the dog, or simply finding more chances to be active throughout the day (taking the stairs instead of the elevator, parking farther, etc).

 

Doing Something Is Always Better Than Nothing

No matter what you have going on in your life, you have the ability to maintain or make some progress, no matter how small. All you have to do is turn the dial down.

If you can’t sprint, jog.

If you can’t jog, walk.

No matter what, you can move forward, just at different speeds. Find the speed that you can sustain, and work your way up!