So you want to get fit/healthy/lean/stronger, you have your plan all ready to go, you feel strong. You've got this. Monday comes, the first few days go really well and then- What happens?
A change of routine, illness, low motivation, no real goal to train for, perhaps a weekend away. Moderation goes out the window and come Monday you're struggling to get back on track. Again. Soon the old plan is out the window and you're wondering how it ever stopped... You were feeling so strong!
BUT if we can highlight the most common obstacles on the path to better health and fitness, we can plan to prevent this same story happening over and over and over... Read on to find out more.
Most people crash diet before the holiday, let loose whilst away and come back feeling sluggish and struggling to get back on track. BUT it is possible to feel great before, during and after your time away.
- Take your kit and plan some workouts.
- Balance your food.
- Be wise with alcohol. Everything in moderation.
- Stay active whilst away. Sightseeing, dancing and shopping all count.
- Have something planned to come home to. Like a personal training session, a race, or a gym class with a friend.
For a more detailed break down of these, check out 5 Tips On How To Handle Holidays.
2. Working Away
Like holidays, working away can really throw a curveball into daily routines. As with holidays, planning is key.
- How long you'll be away. If it's longer than a couple of days, take your exercise gear.
- What the facilities will be like. Can you use the gym? The pool? If not, are there parks nearby or enough space in your room? You don't need much space for a quick body-weight workout.
- What options there are for food. Once you know this, you can plan roughly what you'll be eating and at what times. Planning like this will also show you whether you'll need to prep anything before you go.
- Working away can also be stressful, so read more on that below.
Meal Planning- Why and How.
3. Meals Out
Meals out can be quite a conundrum if you're trying to stay on track and healthy. However, eating out does not have to mean the floodgates opening and your regime 'ruined'!
- You can usually check the menu online in advance if you'd like to saves time and guessing at the table.
- Plan your food like you would any other day. If you know it'll be a big meal, balance your day by having lighter meals earlier in the day. Makes sense, doesn't it?
- If you usually eat at 6pm but dinner isn't booked until 8pm, don't let yourself get so ravenous that you're ready to eat everything on the menu and the waiter too. Food planning helps to space meals out accordingly.
- Portion sizes can be huge. Does it look enough to feed a small family hippos? Then it's probably too much. Either take some off your plate, share with fellow diners or ask for a take-home bag. Eat slowly, enjoy the company and sip water throughout.
- Choose wisely. Is there veg involved? Good. Is there protein? Good.
- Then simply get straight back to 'normal' once the meal is done. No panic.
Read 5 Tips On Avoiding Portion Distortion.
4. Stress/ Emotions
Stress is part of life and it's not gonna stop just because you're now on a healthy plan. We must be prepared to work around the stress, otherwise it'll keep flooring us.
Emotions are the same. People can fall off-wagon from disappointment, celebrations, nerves, excitement- The whole shebang. Plan to prevent eff ups then work on getting better at putting that plan into practice.
- What causes the stress? Can it be lessened? (Busy work? Family issues? Big life changes?)
- What can you do to cope better? (Keep planning food? Scheduling workouts in? Get 8hours sleep?)
- What will you do when you are stressed to prevent you falling off plan? (Evening workout? Take five minutes throughout the day? Do a guided meditation?)
- Find the time to de-stress regularly in a healthy way.
Read 6 Tips On Easing Winter Blues.
This is unfortunate. Clearly I am no Doctor, so my advice:
- If you're constantly getting poorly, look at why- Do you need more rest? Less stress? More vitamins and minerals from your food?
- Drink plenty of water. Your body is battling enough without having to battle hydration.
- Listen to your body. If it's ok to train, do it. If you're not sure, go easy. If you need to rest, don't train.
- Rest up.
- Go see your doctor.
If the body is sick it will surely heal best if you give it proper food to work with. Plus, no one needs to be stressing over food whilst they're poorly. Moral of the story: Plan your food as you normally would.
6. Sore Muscles
At some point when trying to progress with exercise, your muscles are going to hurt. It's a given. This happens because the muscles tear during the workout and then have to re-build stronger. It is usually at it's worst 24-48hours post exercise and all you've gotta do is ride it out.
These should help though:
- Water, water, water.
- Consistent healthy diet
- Light exercise. Do not stop completely- It may be hard to start with but going and moving will actually ease the discomfort.
- Use as a good excuse to buy a massage or convince your other half to do it for free.
- Always cool down and stretch properly.
- Don't moan about it *too much*, it makes it worse. Remember it's not going to feel sore forever, your body is adapting to the new routines, it will get easier.
7. Weight Plateaus/ Weight Gain
Fat loss is never linear. It will shimmy up and down along your 12 week course, but as long as it's heading in the general direction you'd like it to then don't worry. One week the scales may even show you having gained weight... The scales can lie.
If you've been sticking to plan with food and exercise and this happens, know that weight can naturally fluctuate by three or four pounds up or down due to hydration levels, carb levels, time of the month, what you've eaten and so on.
- Weigh once a week at most. Plot it on a graph/ make a note of it. If it gains/maintains for three measurements on the trot then do something about it because by then you'll know it's probably an actual fat increase, not just your weight fluctuating.
- Use other methods of measuring. You could use a machine to measure body fat and muscle percentage, tape measure your arms, waist, hips and thighs, use your clothes or judge by photos also.
- Most people underestimate how many calories they're consuming daily and if you're not in a calorie deficit then you won't lose weight, so make sure you're not falling into that trap!
- Then all you can do is stay consistent with your food, consistent with your exercise and go from there. If the weight doesn't change, make small changes to your plan until you get what you're looking for.
- Dramatic answers are not the solution. Excessive dieting will only lead to excessive bingeing.
8. Low Motivation/ Wanting To Give Up
This is killer. It will happen and it's totally normal so try to plan for those low-motivation moments:
- When are they most likely to happen? (Evenings? Early mornings? When work is busy?)
- What usually causes them? (Being tired? Feeling sad/emotional?)
- How can you prevent those causes having such a big effect? (Earlier bedtimes? Schedule workouts for mornings? Having a training buddy?)
- What will you do when you really can't be bothered? (Call up a friend to train with? Put your trainers on anyway and just get out the door no matter what?)
- How to get More motivated to begin with? (Enter an event to train for? Find a class to join?)
When this hits, remember why you started. You started for a reason, work on that reason. Imagine it real in your head, stick inspiration up if you need it, write it down. Do whatever it takes to keep that fire burning.
For more info on finding that motivation, read:
- 6 Ways To Make Working Out Easier
- 4 Quick and Easy Mind Hacks For Exercise
9. Trying To Be 'Perfect'
There is no point trying to be '100% healthy' from the get go if you end up feeling deprived and sorry for yourself, then caving in and bingeing. It is much more healthy for both mind and body to plan for those cravings and go with them rather than battle them non-stop.
- Plan your food so that you don't feel deprived. Enjoy what you're eating!
- Research healthier/lower calorie versions of your favourite treats.
- Aim for healthy 85% of the time, don't stress 15%. Healthy= whole foods which haven't been played around with too much. Stuff that looks recognisable as food. The other 15%= everything else.
So there you have it. What to do about the most common food and fitness hurdles. Has it helped? Did I miss anything? Let me know in the comments section below :)
Would you like to attempt your own 12 week plan? I can show you what you need to be doing every step of the way, so check out why all Hell Yeah Healthy Programs work and then find your perfect fit.❤
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