A few weeks ago, when Megan joined us to talk about “Your Body After Babies“, she shared some words that many of us really needed to hear. Today we’re happily welcoming her back. Her post is perfect for mid-January, when our new year motivation might be starting to slip. Time to keep our minds in the game, girls!
Becoming healthier and fit would be a piece of cake if our minds didn’t get in the way, especially our female minds. As women, we have been designed with a double portion of emotions, tenderheartedness, nurturing character, softness and sensitivity. These emotions and thought processes are a gift to us and intended to be used as gifts toward others. Without mothers, sisters, daughters, and friends, it would be a cold, hard, utilitarian world. Don’t you agree?
But, oh dear sister, these minds can get out of hand and we can become dramatic and unreasonable, making it ridiculously difficult to make any progress toward the goals we just put into place. This is where we need to head into the process with a good plan for keeping our minds in the game.
You know yourself. You know if you’re particularly sensitive. When your boat gets rocked even a little bit, you need to process things with a good chat, a cry and perhaps a big glass of wine. Your days feel like they’re full of ups and downs, a rhythm is hard to find and your feelings are your guide for most decisions. You’re a soft hearted person.
This world needs you, and your family and friends need you. I need you! However, the likelihood of you adhering to a regular workout and nutrition plan consistently for a full month, let alone three months, is slim. You may wake up one morning and everything feels off, and all you’ll want is some comfort in the form of a giant mocha. The kids are screaming and you’re thinking, “I just can’t. Nope, not gonna happen today.”
Or you may not be quite so emotionally driven. You let problems and issues slide off your back. You are steady and patient. You’re a rule follower. Sticking to a workout and nutrition plan will be fairly easy for you. “Just give it to me in black and white, and I’ll do it.” (Oh, how I love you!)
However, you have a harder time listening to your body when you need to take a break—when your soul needs rest and recovery, and when you need to just breathe. Have you ever felt driven down into the ground and then finally overwhelmed? You probably need to tune in more, let your feelings float to the top a little more. This is okay to do…really.
Perhaps you fall somewhere in between these two levels of emotion. But, wherever you are, recognize it from a completely objective standpoint. Are you dramatic and tend to be high maintenance? Are you steady, solid, yet have a hard time expressing yourself? Are you in a shell or are you completely out there? Don’t criticize yourself or wish you were different. God created you as an individual and this is part of your identity.
Moving forward, we just need to make sure these characteristics don’t become road blocks to your progress.
You’re going to have bad days. You’re going to have downright horrible days. You’re going to have days that make you want to run away and never come back. (You will have some pretty awesome days sprinkled in there too, like little blessings. Enjoy them to their fullest!) You will have days where one chip throws you into a huge junk food spiral, triggering every evil food craving that you thought you already dealt with. You will have weeks where everything seems like it hurts, convincing you that you’re taking one step forward but two steps back.
In these moments, during these bad days, your emotional character will reveal itself. If you need to cry, then cry. If you need to call your friend to vent and receive encouragement, then do it. If you need some solitude with your Bible or a good book, then carve out margins in your day to do it. But you MUST pick yourself back up and fight on. Please friend, whatever you do, do NOT wallow in your ache and let it drag on.
If you eat really well on Monday and Tuesday, but Wednesday completely falls apart, don’t bag the rest of the week. You might say, “Oh well, I’ll just start over next Monday”. No!
If you have one bad day, do not let it lead into a string of bad days. Just start over the very next day! If you miss one workout, or even two workouts, pick up where you left off at the first opportunity and keep moving forward. Break the cycle!
Let’s lay out some rules that will help direct your mindset:
1. The Clean Slate Policy: Whatever happened last month, last week, or yesterday, the slate gets wiped clean every day and you move on. No guilt, no shame, no judgement. Too many people keep an eye on the past, dwelling on what they should have done differently. This will only slow you down.
2. Review your goals daily: You should have both your big picture goal (called an Outcome Goal) and your specific daily actions (called Behavior Goals) written down in a high traffic spot. Your fridge is a perfect location. By reading your goals multiple times each day, it will keep your focus on the task at hand.
3. Create several layers of accountability: Embark on this journey with a friend. Discuss your goals and actions with your spouse. Use a food and workout journal. Have a trainer hold you to it. Use these words: “My goal is to ______ and I need to do ______ every day to reach it. Can you please check in on me on a regular basis to make sure I’m on track?”
The more levels of accountability you have, the better. If you try to get healthier and fitter on your own, you will probably fail miserably.
4. Don’t slash all the tires: I heard this analogy years ago and loved it. If you end up with one flat tire, why would ever you proceed to slash the rest of your tires? If you have one bad meal, why would you sabotage yourself by eating horribly the rest of the day? If you miss one workout, why would you miss the rest of your workouts for the week? Once you’ve acknowledged your mistake, move on! Make it right!
5. Immerse yourself: Read as much as you can about nutrition and exercise. Educate yourself with the science of how nutrients work in your body. Talk to people who know how to eat well. Follow fitness coaches online and read articles about different forms of exercise. Read everything I write and watch every video I post (go to www.strong-mommas.com). Never miss an opportunity to grow in your knowledge of nutrition and fitness. When you are saturated by this information, your mind will gravitate towards this lifestyle.
Creating the right mindset will not eliminate bad days or even bad weeks. But, it will prevent you from giving up. These strategies will give you the right tools to handle the inevitable scenario when your emotions get the best of you.
Megan Dahlman is a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist, Certified Precision Nutrition Coach, and mother of two little boys. She coaches women of all ages toward becoming healthy and fit. She just launched www.strong-mommas.com , a website fully catered toward moms who are looking for a more heavenly perspective in health and fitness. It is loaded with workout and nutrition guidance, helping moms become truly healthy and strong, not just sexy. Megan lives in Oregon with her husband, two boys, horse, dog and chickens. You can follow her on Facebook @strongmommas and Instagram @strong_mommas.