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Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Dealing with a setback

I've spent the last few days getting over a cold, and it reminded me how easy it can be to get off track. Maybe, like me, it's a cold that sidelines you from your workouts, or maybe it's a disruption to your schedule. Maybe it's even a setback on the scale, or a few days of eating off plan.

A few days can stretch to a week, and then two weeks. Suddenly you find yourself looking in the mirror and feeling pudgy and unmotivated. So now what?

Well, sometimes, it's not as hard as it seems to find your way back. You don't have to dive all the way back into your normal routine to do it. Just small steps can be enough to build momentum in the right direction, and get you back into your routine.

So let's talk about some strategies to get you out of that funk.

  1. Get moving. Maybe you can't make it to the gym or don't have time for a full workout. Drop to the floor and bang out a few sets of 10-20 push-ups, do some jumping jacks, 10-20 bodyweight squats, and a 30 second plank. It's quick, so if you feel good, rest a minute and repeat. Just getting moving, even doing a little mini-workout like this, will raise your endorphins and get you out of feeling lazy, making you more likely to return to your regular workouts the next day.
  2. Take a break from the scale. Weighing yourself multiple times a day or even every single day can be demoralizing. Most of the rise and fall in your weight over short periods of time is based on hydration. Take at least one week's break from the scale and focus instead on how you feel and how your clothes fit.
  3. Eat healthy for a day. Just one day of going without the snacks, fatty foods, and treats that led to a downward spiral can help you start a positive cycle. One day can stretch into two, then three...you get the idea.
  4. Do something fun. Sometimes you can lose your motivation because you've been TOO intense, working too hard without ever getting a break. Take a day and do something fun. Maybe it's a fun activity, like going for a bike ride with your family. Maybe it's something like getting a new haircut, or a pedicure. Taking a day to relax and have a little fun may leave you recharged and ready to jump back into your exercise routine.
As for me, I missed my normal gym workout on Monday to stay home and rest, since I wasn't feeling well. To make matters worse, I didn't feel like cooking something healthy. I was tempted to order out, but then ended up eating some butternut squash soup I had in the cabinet. I rested on the couch for a while, and then decided to get up and just do a set of push-ups. After 20 push-ups, I had a bit more energy and did some sumo squats. Then it was side planks and regular planks. By this point, I actually felt pretty good, so I grabbed my kettlebell and did some weighted lunges and cleans. All in all, I spent about 12-15 minutes being active, instead of my normal 60 minute workout, but I went to bed feeling much better emotionally about what I had done.

On Tuesday night, I was still feeling a bit off, but after my mini-workout the night before, I managed to build up the momentum to make it to the gym. After my workout was complete, I felt really great - not tired or sick at all.

So the next time you've fallen out of your routine because you're sick, or maybe a bit depressed, try some of my suggestions and see if they can get you back on track. Do you have any additional strategies? If so, please post them in the comments!


  1. Hope you're feeling better Liz!! This is a great posting and very timely for me. I've been on an extended hiatus from exercise due to a diagnosis of BPPV. I made certain during this time to continue to eat healthy and while I've certainly lost some muscle, I maintained my weight.

    The good news is that I got the all clear from the doctor late last week and started working out again this past weekend. I'm as sore as can be ... and never felt so good :)

    My expectations from this extended break is to actually realize substantial gains over the next month! Can't weight to prove myself correct!!


  2. Hi there Susan! I did see you say that you were not exercising now, but I didn't know why that was. I'm so glad you've been cleared to exercise and I can tell you are excited to get back on plan!

    I am feeling better now as well. I had to take a break from writing posts because I was very busy at work, and needed my rest in the evenings when I got home from the gym. I've finally gotten well enough that I could devote a little time to writing.

    Can't wait to hear more about how your month goes!