It happens to us all: you’ve been staying on top of your health goals, your diet is on point, you’re exercising regularly, and you’re incorporating self-care in your wellness routine. Then girls’ night out rolls around and you give in to the sweet seduction of the restaurant’s most decadent menu items. Or, vacation rolls around and the endless buffet on your cruise ship derails you. Don’t even mention dessert! Ice cream, anyone? Yes! Your hand went up with the quickness and you ate the. whole. darn. thing.
I get it. Been there, done that. More than once. 😉
The emotions following a health goal slip-up can range from shame and self-loathing to anger and guilt. Discouragement and disillusionment can follow quickly–if we let them! The key is to learn how to bounce back when you fall off the health goals wagon and quickly restore your motivation.
Here are a few tips that will help you rebound when you mess up on your health goals.
Don’t use a slip-up as an excuse to sabotage your health goals.
After eating a “forbidden” cupcake, it’s easy to fall into a downward spiral. You rationalize that you’ve already messed up, so what’s another cupcake … or three? This mindset can continue throughout the rest of your day, and you may even think of turning the day into a “cheat day.” This type of reasoning with yourself can easily morph into letting one treat turn into an entire day or weekend of poor eating choices. Not good at all! Don’t let one treat spoil your plans; bring well-needed balance to your diet with a very healthy lunch or an extra side of leafy green veggies at dinner. You’ve enjoyed the cupcake, so now it’s time to move right along in a healthier direction.
Observe and learn from your health goal habits.
Instead of seeing your slip-up as a failure, find the lesson in it. What triggered your choice to eat or drink something that didn’t fit your health goals? Dig deep to find the “why” behind your choice. That search for an answer may very well help you avoid turning that choice into a future habit. Once in a while, a Strawberry Blonde ice cream from Cold Stone Creamery may be the absolutely correct decision, but when habits creep in that consistently derail your health plans, it’s time to pay attention and learn from your misstep.
Go easy on yourself but go hard on your health goals rebound.
People tend to identify with the mistakes or successes they experience. However, now is not the time to beat yourself up because you slipped up. It happened; life goes on. See the incident through judgment-free lenses, using it as an opportunity to delve into the circumstances that surrounded the slip-up with simple curiosity. What went off kilter? Were your expectations too high at this time? How can you pivot so that you’re ready to face potential health goal pitfalls in the future?
Also, think about what might have been going on at a deeper level with your “primary foods”: relationships, career, exercise, and spirituality. Sometimes challenges in any of those areas can lead to a setback in your “secondary food” (what you eat and drink) health goals. Doubling up on health tools like water, deep breathing, mindfulness, and rest might also be keys to unlocking your health goals without setbacks.
Seek support from health goal allies.
Feeling supported and being motivated by others is a great way to breeze past your slip-ups and get back into the health game. Press in to those health goal allies who are on the same path as you are. Health-conscious family members and friends, workout buddies, and even online groups that serve as cheerleaders to their members as they press toward their health goals are great sources of support as you get back in the saddle. They know the struggle and can honestly commiserate with you, all the while giving you a gentle kick in the pants to move forward.
As a health coach, one of my main roles is to support clients and provide a listening ear as they work to achieve their health goals. A sense of accountability and reassurance, along with practical steps to get you back on track, might be just what you need to stay the course and quickly get the wellness results you crave. I’d love to chat with you about how I can help you reach your health goals and not get derailed. You can respond here on the blog in the comments or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As you use these tips, you’ll recognize that you’re ready to move on from the slip-up and continue on your health journey. Small slips will no longer sabotage your motivation. Having the wisdom to see it for what it is–a bump in the road, not a permanent setback–is the fuel that will keep you on track for many years to come.
How do you handle setbacks to your health goals?