If your New Year’s resolution was to have a beach body by spring break, it’s time to check your progress: March is here, and warm weather isn’t far behind.
Even if your resolution was just to be a bit healthier, well-intentioned goals typically start to slide off the radar after a couple of months. A snack here and there might lead you back to old eating habits, and one day of skipping the gym can quickly become a completely lazy week.
Don’t worry; it’s not too late to get back on track and achieve your resolutions. You’ll have to rework some of your diet and exercise goals along the way, but you won’t have to start all over again next year.
To get back on track, meet your new best friend: the backup plan. “It’s most important to always have a plan in place,” says Kimberly Gomer, registered dietitian and director of nutrition at Pritikin Longevity Center and Spa in Miami. That plan should allow you to be healthy and not hungry, Gomer says, but it also should be flexible and varied enough to keep you interested.
Here are 3common health regimen roadblocks that stop people from achieving their goals, and what you can do to clear them without breaking the bank:
Problem: Your new healthy diet is getting old, fast.
Even with the best intentions, it happens: Your planned meals become routine and mundane, and if you have to eat one more carrot stick or spinach salad, you’ll go nuts. It’s easy to get bored after several weeks of eating healthful staple foods, and that can really chip away at your resolve to eat right.
Solution: Battle boredom with new skills.
It’s time to beef up your culinary know-how. Think of your lifestyle commitment as a decision to make healthy eating work for you, not as a life sentence to ingest only boring roughage.
Begin by identifying why you’re bored, Gomer says. Do you not have enough time to prepare more varied foods, or are you not sure how? Are you a picky eater who really doesn’t like vegetables? The solution involves educating yourself a bit in the kitchen.
Start with buying fresh, seasonal food — it will taste best and cost less — and use it as a starting point. Try watching free online videos on sites such as YouTube or CookingLight.com if you need help learning healthy cooking methods. Invest in herbs and spices if your rack is sparsely filled; the more flavorful your healthy food, the more likely you are to keep making it.
Problem: Your weight loss has plateaued.
No matter how diligently you stick to a weight loss plan, your body is unlikely to lose weight at a steady rate. “Plateaus in a weight loss program can be frustrating when you want to see results,” says Tara Romeo, certified strength and conditioning specialist at the Professional Athletic Performance Center in Garden City, New York.
Solution: A lot of change will do you good.
Here’s the truth: Your body will eventually adapt to any routine you put it through, whether it’s your diet or fitness regimen. Don’t let that break your resolve. Instead, change it up. “It is very important to shock the system with something different in your diet and exercise program,” Romeo says.
If you’ve been doing steady-state cardio such as walking or biking, try shorter periods of intense intervals. If you’ve been lifting weights, try different resistances and rest periods than what you’re used to, Romeo advises. If you restrict your calories to the same number each day, you can try alternating lower- and higher-calorie days instead (but never eat fewer than 1,000 calories per day).
Problem: You’ve lost steam and don’t feel like working out much anymore.
Most people have a day here or there when they just don’t feel like being active. But when one day off becomes several, you’re in danger of derailing. “When someone does not understand the time it takes for the body to adapt and change from a good exercise and nutrition program, they become frustrated and throw in the towel too soon,” Romeo says.
Solution: Check your mindset.
Having the right goals and expectations can help you avoid this trap. If you rely on in-the-moment motivation to get you to the gym, you’ll have a hard time sticking to it long enough to see results. Instead, consider your biggest fitness goals, and focus on the smaller milestones you need to reach each day to get there.
“People don’t always keep their eye on the prize,” Gomer says, “so I have to remind clients of their physical and emotional reasons for starting.” The next time you have a hard time making your program stick, remind yourself why you first embarked on the quest for a healthy lifestyle, and what will happen to your body if you quit.
Remember that the path to a true change in your mind and body is not always straight and clear. Keep going forward, though, and you’ll get there.