Have you fallen off the bandwagon a bit, but are ready to get back on? The first steps, as the Lark “Eyes on the Prize” Mission has noted, are to regain motivation, think about what may have derailed healthy intentions and habits, and consider some strategies to address those challenges. Then, it is time to solidify your plans and support system, and choose a start date when you will get back to your healthy lifestyle.
Even the best plans can go awry, as the recent Lark check-in said. Life is filled with unexpected curves, and they can force you to change your plans. If your healthy Plan A is no longer possible, though, it may be time to shift to Plan B. Do you have one? Here are some obstacles that may be out of your control, and some ways to approach them as you stick to your newfound healthy intentions.
Obstacle: Bad Weather
Inclement weather can threaten at any time of year. Certain outdoor activities can be dangerous or impossible if it is too hot, too icy, too rainy, or too windy. Thunderstorms, freezing rain, hail, and unplowed sidewalks can get in the way of a planned workout. That does not mean you need to skip a workout, though! Here are some Plan B ideas that can give you an “A”-quality workout.
- Go at a different time. Being outdoors in the early morning or late evening in summer lets you avoid the heat of the day, while shifting outdoor workouts to lunchtime lets you get the benefits of full daylight, while also possibly having a greater chance of using ploughed sidewalks after a snowstorm.
- Take it indoors. Working out at gyms or in your home, or walking at a mall or indoor shopping center, lets you avoid fighting the elements.
- Dress properly. Sometimes, all it takes is appropriate clothing to be able to get outdoors. In winter, layering up to be sure you are warm, then shedding layers if you start to feel overheated, can let you exercise in conditions well into the teens of degrees.
Obstacle: Unexpected Time Sinks
Scenarios can include your boss asking you to stay late at work, your kids needing you to bake cookies for tomorrow’s bake sale, and your spouse asking you to call a plumber and go to the hardware store for parts. Unforeseeable demands on your time are almost sure to happen, and they often cut into time that you might have set aside for exercise or healthy cooking.
It may be time to turn to Plan B. In this case, anything that saves time can help. These are some ways to prepare.
- Stock your freezer, pantry, and refrigerator with ready-to-eat or quick-to-prepare meals and ingredients. The freezer can have cooked chicken, fish, tofu, and vegetables, and meals such as stew and chili. Pantry items can include canned tomatoes, low-sodium beans or low-fat refried beans, tuna, nuts, whole grains such as whole-wheat spaghetti and brown rice, and olive oil. The fridge might have eggs, cottage cheese, yogurt, hummus, and whole-grain bread.
- Save driving time during workouts by skipping the round-trip drive to the gym by taking a walk around your neighborhood, working out at home, or using the gym and the gym’s shower on the way to or from work.
- Use meal helpers, such as bagged salad, rotisserie chicken or cooked chicken breast strips, marinated chicken or fish from your supermarket’s meat counter, and cut vegetables for stir fry, fajitas, and soups.
- Know healthy options at local neighborhood and chain restaurants. In a pinch, a chicken salad at a drive-through or delivery of salmon with brown rice and vegetables can save time and give you nutrients you need.
Obstacle: Lack of Planning
You may occasionally find yourself needing to make a quick decision about what to eat or how you can get in some physical activity. If you hastily try something new with a last-minute decision, you might end up with more calories than you had intended, or with a missed workout.
Strange as it may sound, some planning can help you plan for lack of planning. Here are some strategies.
- Default to what works. For example, if you need a snack but do not have time to think, you can opt for something you have regularly, such as a hard-boiled egg or peanut butter with an apple. At restaurants, chicken breast and vegetables or a green salad are nearly always good options.
- Use Lark DPP. You can log meals ahead of time to see which nutrients and food groups are in them so you can decide whether you really want to make those choices.
- Have workout clothes and shoes nearby. Your car, your office, and your home may be some good places to have workout gear just in case you need it suddenly.
Obstacle: Weekends, Vacations, and Holidays
For some people, routine days are more conducive to healthy eating and increased physical activity. Weekends and holidays may theoretically be for you to take time for yourself, but changes in schedule or scenery may leave you scrambling to get the food and activity you crave. Another challenge is that weekends and holidays are often the best chance to get priceless, quality family time, which can interfere with healthy behaviors.
Here are some strategies for staying fit and healthy on weekends, vacations, and holidays.
- Combine healthy time with family time, such as playing outdoors or cooking meals together.
- Be a pedestrian tourist in your own town by choosing a fun neighborhood and exploring it on foot.
- Practice for sports along with your kids.
- Let your kids or spouse be the expert and teach you how to make a healthy meal, with guidelines such as including a vegetable and a fruit.
Obstacle: Another Lapse
You may be highly motivated and well-prepared to get over the current relapse, and you may build up some momentum as you get going. Eventually, though, another lapse might happen. Recognizing and facing a lapse can help minimize its effects. Now that you have some experience, future lapses may be easier to get over.
It is great to carefully plan to get over a lapse and to implement that plan. As you do so, it is likely that an unexpected barrier or two will throw a wrench into things. That means it may be time to turn to Plan B so you can succeed no matter what. And, no matter what, Lark DPP is there for support and coaching to help you meet your weight loss and health goals.