How to keep consistent with healthy habits when life throws you off track

My dad likes to say that life is what happens when we’re making plans. My clients certainly find this to be true. They want to keep consistent with healthy habits but life always seems to block their best intentions. And the idea of work life balance starts to feel unrealistic.

You know what though? So much of that life is more predictable than we pretend. That is, we know we’ll be disrupted at work. And we’ll sometimes need to work late. We know the weather won’t always “cooperate.” It’s really not a surprise when kids create a mess or need to be picked up from some activity at the last minute. 

So, why not plan for these things?  

The problem isn’t the problem. The problem is thinking there shouldn’t be problems. Planning your calendar while expecting  ideal circumstances sets you up to not keep consistent with healthy habits. It’s one of the biggest reasons I see for people getting stuck in the lose-regain-lose-regain weight cycle. 

Photo by LinkedIn Sales Solutions on Unsplash

To execute consistently on your plan I recommend having a backup plan. Here are three options to consider as you create yours:

  • If A, then B: This is about alternatives. “If it’s dark when I get home and I don’t feel safe going for my jog, I’ll ride my stationary bike.” Or, “ If I work late and cooking dinner feels like a drag, I’ll grab a Chipotle Wholesome Bowl on the way home.” 
  • Minimum standard: Setting a baseline minimum prevents all-or-nothing from taking over, particularly when you have an extended situation that makes it easy to put your healthy habits on the back burner. “No matter what, I exercise for 5 minutes every day. Whatever’s going on, I have a piece of fruit every morning.” 
  • Have a plethora of options: Have a list of 10 different exercises (e.g. lunges, planks, jumping jacks, even stretches) that you can combine together for a 10-minute workout. Develop a list of go-to meals that you can throw together at a moment’s notice (I talk about this in my Back on Track Challenge that’s coming up again next month – let me know if you want to be first to be notified when it’s starting). Then keep certain foods stocked that you know will fit the bill. 

These are ideas to get you going. Now brainstorm several in each category. (Even come up with your own category and share below!)  If you regularly take action on your healthy habits – or try to – this will be a significant boost to your consistency.  

Work life balance is deciding how to handle the circumstances that come at you in ways that allow you to keep consistent with healthy habits. Ultimately, you want to avoid being “surprised” by things you could readily predict. Be flexible and plan for contingencies. That’s how you create the lifestyle that “gets you there and keeps you there.”

How to stay on track even when you don’t feel like it

You’re going along, following your plan. Your clothes fit better, and you’re feeling great. But then, inevitably, one of those days hits. Or maybe it’s a whole week. And suddenly, you find yourself thinking…

“I’ve been good, I deserve a break.”

“Today, I’m just not feeling it.”

“I’ll get back on track… eventually.”

Sound familiar?

It’s the unpredictability of life we all face. But here’s the thing: to achieve and maintain your goals, consistency is key. It’s about staying committed through those tough days and weeks. Because…

stay on track
Photo by Rachel Claire

What gets you there, keeps you there.

That’s why my first four steps are crucial for staying on track. They establish and then build upon a foundation that’s sustainable for the long haul—your entire life.

If that notion feels daunting, take a moment. Reflect on how every action or inaction, no matter how small, shapes your future. It’s a perspective we often overlook, but one worth embracing. Not in a critical, I-just-ate-a-cookie-and-I’m-a-fat-pig kind of way” but rather in with mindful consideration of what truly matters to you.

This isn’t about becoming hyper-vigilant, obsessive, or perfectionistic. It’s about being deliberate. Otherwise, it’s too easy to slip back into autopilot mode, where progress stalls.

We’re wired to conserve energy, to choose the path of least resistance—a survival strategy ingrained in us for millennia. However, in today’s world, we must recognize that the easy path often leads to greater difficulties down the road.

Really!

A client once shared an adage with me: “You can choose what’s easy now, and life will be hard, or you can choose what’s hard now, and life will be easy.”

Consider the consequences of taking the easy route. Like overspending without a budget or having that extra drink when you’ve already reached your limit. What’s easy in the moment often translates to hardship later on, whether it’s a financial shortfall or struggling with weight years down the line.

The fifth step in my 5-step process—consistent execution—depends on maintaining the other steps. It means regularly identifying and reshaping sabotaging thoughts, keeping your “why” at the forefront, and continuously refining your approach based on what works.

Execution entails crafting a lifestyle that aligns with your goals and keeps you there. Surround yourself with foods you enjoy and activities you love. Make it effortless to stay on track. Keep a watchful eye on your thoughts, recognizing when your mind starts feeding you lies about it being too difficult or your inevitable failure.

And don’t wait for it to feel easier. One day, you’ll realize that it already does.

Top 3 Mistakes Made When Creating a Weight Loss Plan

In sharing my 5-step process for having the health and body you want, I suspect step 4 might be your favorite. Chances are, you’ve dedicated considerable effort to it. However, if you’re not seeing the desired outcomes, it’s time for refinement. Time to make it uniquely yours. I’m talking about creating a weight loss plan.

This is where people are most at ease, deciphering the what and the how. But enduring habits come from doing the deep work, which is why we laid the groundwork with Steps 1, 2, and 3. Once that foundation is laid (imperfect, but in motion), devising a weight loss plan and staying the course becomes significantly easier.

To start, let’s sidestep these 3 common mistakes people make with their plans:

  1. Neglecting to tailor the plan to their current life stage.
  2. Constantly tweaking the plan, keeping habits from taking root and yielding results.
  3. Too much reliance on external sources for solutions, overlooking inherent wisdom.

The antidote to these missteps lies in introspection. Set aside the apps, the calorie counters, the fitness gadgets—for now. 

creating a weight loss plan
Photo by Moe Magners

Think about the healthy lifestyle you want to live. Go back to what you clarified in step 2. With that in mind, make a list of all the things you would need to start doing and stop doing. Add to it what you need to do more of and less of. And then recognize what you need to continue doing. In asking yourself these questions, you’ll realize you possess more insight than you give yourself credit for. (P.S. I’ve got a nifty tool to aid your brainstorming—drop me an email and I’ll send it your way.)

Next, practice patience. Imagine it’ll take a year or two to seamlessly integrate these changes into your life. Where would you begin? Reflect on your current routines and what resonates with you. Leverage past experiences to propel you forward, methodically introducing changes month by month, focusing on small steps, big results. And when it’s time, reintroduce the apps and trackers, if they align with your goals and progress.

Then, decide what makes sense for you to implement right now. Get good at it. Move on to the next. With a well-crafted, personalized plan, results will come. Yes, it may require tweaks along the way. But only because you’re being deliberate, not rushing from one tactic to the next in pursuit of quick fixes.

Need support tailoring a plan to fit your unique needs? Let’s carve out some time to chat.

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