I've been guilty of every self-sabotaging habit on this list. When we fail to see the results we're looking for, it's almost always because we're doing one or more of these sneaky habits.
1. We fail to plan
Workouts, sleep and good nutrition don't just fall into place one day. Anyone who has achieved a balanced fit lifestyle has worked hard to get there.
When I worked a corporate job, I used to glance at my schedule for the week, and be like, "I'll workout Monday and Wednesday night, and wake up at 6:00am Friday to hit the gym before work. The weekend will be easy, I'll get in two more workouts." The problem was, I never 100% committed to my workouts or wrote them in my calendar. When Wednesday night rolled around, I often ditched my gym plans for happy hour. Then I'd go out drinking Thursday night with co-workers, barely waking up in time for work Friday. If I was lucky I'd get in a workout Saturday morning, and Sunday was reserved for sleeping off a hangover. This cycle repeated itself for a good portion of my early 20s. Now I schedule in my workouts at realistic times in 45 to 60 minute time blocks. I'll do 3 to 4 strength sessions, a yoga class and 2 to 3 runs or long walks depending how I feel on those days. When I hold myself accountable to these appointments, I feel accomplished and it keeps me motivated.
Getting 7 to 9 hours of sleep is key for hormone health and body composition. If I need to wakeup at 5:30am I set a reminder to be in bed by 9:30pm. I admit I still struggle with this, but what really works is getting in bed 30-60 minutes early with a book and cup of tea. Setting a "bedtime" in the Clock app or a reminder in the Calendar app also works. If you can't get 8 hours, try to nap when possible and sleep in occasionally on the weekends.
Good nutrition means eating real unprocessed food to fuel you through the day. Meal prepping on Sunday works for most of my clients. If you eat out frequently for work, check the menu so you can mentally order a healthy option ahead of time. Most restaurants are happy to accommodate and make substitutions (ex. no butter or oil, dressing on the side, vegetable instead of fries, etc.). For a full guide of healthy options at any type of restaurant, get your FREE Healthy Restaurant Guide here.
If you have no time to meal prep, look into a local meal delivery service. Planning what you will eat and the times you will eat for the next day ensures you have access to the best options. It also prevents you from going more than 4 hours between meals, which often leads to overeating at the next meal. For example, if you have a busy afternoon and a long commute home, stash a protein bar or fruit and nuts in your purse. Also, hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! Get a 1L water bottle and refill it at least once. Aim for at a minimum of half your bodyweight in ounces each day to flush out toxins and speed metabolism. I drink 3 to 4 liters.
2. We don't believe in ourselves
Having confidence in our ability to achieve our health and fitness goals takes practice. It starts with the story we tell ourselves. Growing up, I was very academic but never athletic or coordinated. I got hit in the head with the soccer ball more times than I scored a goal and I was always picked last in gym class. When I started lifting weights at 15 years old, it was the first time I felt physically strong. It wasn't until I learned to stop filtering for all the negative things, and instead focus on what I wanted - to be strong, healthy with lean curves - that I made the most progress.
You are completely deserving of the body and the life you want to live. We need to celebrate small accomplishments, like getting in a 20 minute workout before work, ordering a healthy option at a restaurant, or drinking enough water every day of the week. These small wins are what keep us on track and motivated.
As a full-time personal trainer and nutrition coach, over the last 4 years I've met with 100+ clients who want to be more consistent with eating healthy, but feel like happy hours, work dinners, date nights, and weekends are one of the top reasons they fail to stay on track. I released a FREE Healthy Restaurant Guide to show it doesn't have to be this way, you can navigate the restaurant and bar scene while still waking up the next morning feeling fit, energized and lean. You can get your FREE copy today here.
3. We diet
When we try to change everything at once, nothing sticks. The sustainable path to results is one where healthy habits are compounded over time to where they become who you are. One of the questions I get asked the most is what I think of fad diets. There's paleo, keto, low-carb, intermittent fasting, calorie counting, Whole30... they all work. When we eat real unprocessed foods while limiting calories, we lose weight. The problem is most diets are highly restrictive, and when we come off of them we put back on all the weight. If we can't eat the way we're eating for the rest of our lives, it's not sustainable.
Diets can compromise our health and energy levels by cutting out entire food groups and essential nutrients. Life is too short to diet and feel deprived, to not be able to eat our favorite foods, go to bed hungry, track every calorie, feel the need to measure and weigh all our food and be perfect, or think about food all the time. The "diet" that works is eating mostly plant-based (vegetables and some fruit) with lean protein. When I started to view food as fuel and nourishment and practice portion control, being lean year-round became more effortless.
4. We try to be perfect
Exercise and nutrition should enhance our life. When we find ourselves over-analyzing, over-restricting, and becoming obsessive over food, it's a downward spiral that often results in a binge. There is no perfect workout routine. The one that works is the one you enjoy and can commit to long-term. If you only have time for 20 minute workouts 3 times a week, then that is the right workout plan for you. Our health doesn't wait for the perfect time for us to start moving our bodies and feeding it with good nutrition.
There needs to be flexibility and resiliency in a diet. There's no more of, "I just blew my diet by eating pizza, so I might as well eat shit the rest of the day and get back on track tomorrow". If I indulge in something decadent, I will always go right back to eating healthy.
5. We compare ourselves to others
With social media, there's images of perfect looking bodies and unhealthy or unrealistic fitness standards in front of us constantly. It can be so easy to fall into a comparison trap. That being said, if you catch yourself comparing yourself to someone else, stop it immediately and name 3 things you love about yourself. Unfollow accounts that you make you feel negative about your own self-worth or body image. Avoid comparing yourself to other people at the gym. Everyone has different goals and journeys. Train for strength and eat for health. Embrace your body and all it is capable of.
6. We act like weekends don't count
Saturday and Sunday make up almost 30% of the week. Loop Friday in there and it's over 40%. If we completely lack structure over the weekend when it comes to fitness and nutrition, our results will be stagnant at best. Schedule in a morning workout or do fun outdoor activities like hiking or biking with friends. Plan ahead so you have water and healthy snacks like fruit, nuts and cut up vegetables on hand. Practice rewarding yourself with things other than food like a manicure or a massage.
For a complete guide on How to Order Healthy at Restaurants, so you can easily navigate the restaurant and bar scene and wake up the next morning feeling fit, energized and lean, get your FREE copy here!
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