My Colorado friend Susan called this weekend.
She sounded awful--tired, grouchy and frustrated! She said, "I have totally gone down the slippery slope with my weight-loss plan. And now I can't seem to get back on track no matter how hard I try."
I was surprised because Susan has already lost nearly 80 pounds and had been doing great with her program. So I asked her, "What happened to your wonderful plan? Did something bad happen that got you off track?"
"Well, it didn't happen all at once." She said. "In fact, I went through a few starts and stops before I let go of my goals completely.
Of course, I have lots of excuses. I've been traveling, I'm healing from sprained ankle, and I'm getting over a one-day flu that lasted a week. At the same time, I've been very stressed with the job and my mother has been needing extra help with her yard work.
I didn't intend to let up on my healthy eating and my exercise plan. It just happened. But now I've been struggling to get them back in place."
I think Susan's struggle is because she completely lost her rhythm in life. Whenever your daily structure and routine go away, your eating and exercise patterns will often go away as well. And sometimes, it seems almost impossible to get those healthy behaviors put back in place.
When you're struggling to get back on track, here's an idea that can help you change the pattern overnight.
Normalize your life
The concept of normalizing has been used to help people adjust to all kinds of challenges, such as moving to a different home, starting a new job or even healing from an injury. It simply requires defining "normal" for yourself and your behaviors, then setting up routines around those things.
For example, you might establish regular times for family meals instead of having everyone grab food on their own. Or you might go back to walking every day on your lunch break instead of eating at your desk.
Here are three simple steps to help your normalize your weight-loss goals.
1. Go back to what worked
Try to recall all of the healthy steps or activities you did in the past, then see if you can tuck them back into your routine again. Just because the kids have extra homework doesn't mean you have to skip drinking your water or taking your daily walk.
To rebuild your exercise routine, lay out your exercise clothes and fill your water bottle before you go to bed. Re-stock your kitchen with fruit, yogurt and other healthy foods that will keep your mealtimes on track.
2. Create routines
Even the simplest morning ritual such as drinking a glass of water while you fix your hair will help you define your day. Set a time for exercise, then stick with it even if the kids are begging for entertainment. On a vacation, try to keep meals and exercise close to the same times as at home.
3. Be consistent
Do your best to keep routines in place, even when you're taking kids to swimming lessons or packing the car for vacation. If you typically walk at lunchtime, plan to fit in a walk regardless of where you are at noon each day. When you have out of town guests, invite them to join you for your walk.
Certainly you can't always maintain a tight routine, especially when summer activities disrupt your life. But pull out the pieces that you CAN do, and integrate them as much as possible. Get creative with timing instead of skipping healthy activities entirely.
Try normalizing your own life, and see if it improves your ability to stay on track with your goals. Let me know what you come up with and how it works for you.