Have you ever found yourself going through phases of pure dedication, early starts, healthy food, great exercise sessions and drinking the right amount of water – only to be follow it with a month of bingeing and forgetting to go to the gym?
Well you aren’t alone. While I have no scientific evidence on how many other people do this, talking to friends, I know it’s not just me!
Take my last year as an example.
In November 2015 I joined the gym beneath my office – a very expensive Virgin Active, but super convenient. I started going to the gym before work, during some lunch breaks, or sometimes after work. I was doing yoga, spin, hiit and weights. Then my office moved to the other end of Chiswick. Getting to the gym before work was JUST about do-able from where I was living, but involved me getting up at 6 to get to the gym for 7:30, which seems pretty crazy. Now, if I went to the gym before work I’d have to get up at 5:30. And lunch time gym sessions were out as a result too. Oh and I’d just bought a flat and the gym membership had gone up to £90pm. So I quit. There wasn’t another suitable gym, and so from April to June 2016 I just let myself go.
Fed up, I signed up to the Body Coach programme in June. Being in my later 20s, I’d suddenly found that the
alcohol I drank food I ate was starting to stick to me. Getting back on the fitness wagon and losing some fat seemed like a good idea.
The programme was ridiculous. Yes I was now exercising lots, and for free at home. Living with my mum I was able to do HIIT workouts easily in her lovely garden all summer, and I already had a lot of weights at home, so that was almost enjoyable (the Cycle 2 and 3 1.5 hr weight workouts were not – they were the dullest things I’ve ever done – who wants to do 150 squats?!). But the food was obsessive, restrictive and expensive. By August I had become so frustrated with how stressed all the prep was making me, never mind all the worry every time I ate out, that I gave up. I finished the programme, but as soon as I did I flopped again.
ENOUGH! I felt freed suddenly of all the restrictions the Body Coach put me under. It advertised itself as a non-restrictive, non-diet regime, but in my mind it was exactly that. I was even limited in what vegetables I could have! Unsurprisingly all the weight I lost I put back on again over Christmas and during another 3 months of not exercising. Oh and my office moved again, this time to Oval.
I knew there was a gym under my new office, but I wasn’t sure how long we’d be staying, and used it as an excuse not to sign up. But once it was confirmed we could stay, I gave myself a kick and paid up. I found a new regime and got myself settled into it in February. It was working well up until April. Then life got in the way again – there was Easter break, I went away to Chicago and ate all the food and drank all the beer, I moved into my flat, my sister got married….all the excuses basically.
But instead of beating myself up about it and moping, I’ve just tried to get back to it when I can. In the past I’d get so wound up if I couldn’t go for one week, or two, but I actually found it wouldn’t help. I’d wind up doing even less because I’d start feeling useless and depressed. This time I actually feel pretty confident that I can do it. I hadn’t been exercising or eating obsessively and returning to a routine actually seems achievable.
The thing is, nobody can do everything all the time. Those fitness models on Instagram work out as a career. Whereas most of us have to spend our day in the office, their office is the gym. So take them out of the equation. Working out in a non-obsessive way, allowing time for life, for good wine and food, for friends and for sleep, you can never keep everything going all the time. And sometimes the external factors like office moves, family situations or illness can impact you. They aren’t your fault and you shouldn’t beat yourself up over it.
So how do you keep on track when you’re not on track at all?
- Don’t stress
- Don’t be obsessive – this can lead to cycles of highs and lows – find something sustainable that works for you
- Be flexible – you may be in the habit of working out first thing, but perhaps you could do a quick session after work
- Doing something is better than nothing. A 20 minute hiit after work won’t require you to queue for popular gym equipment (I’m looking at you, Squat Rack) and won’t take up your evening.
So what am I managing now?
Doing DIY pretty much every evening, and all weekend, I haven’t got much time. I’m getting to bed at midnight, with gym in the morning becoming impossible. But I’m trying to do at least three trips a week – some before work, some at lunch and some after work. Climbing has taken a complete back seat – it pains me, but I know if I can keep up my strength at the gym, the break shouldn’t be detrimental! It’s not ideal but it’s not permanent. And that knowledge helps.
So don’t despair if you’re struggling right now. Just do what you can and keep yourself healthy – whether that be getting enough sleep or managing five killer workouts a week.
Rock and road girl x