Shape Over

Your diet and exercise plans have taken a detour--and so has your self-esteem. One of the most sure fire ways to turn things around in your life is to focus on your physical being. You needn’t dive right into the mental and/or emotion side of the change process just yet if you are not ready. When your body is healthy and working right your mind will begin to be agile and alert, stronger to deal with some of the challenges on the emotional side. The physical activity will start to make you feel better about yourself and your capacity to grow and heal. Focus on your health, put all your energy, no matter how small the amount – whatever you have, focus it on your body. You will see and feel results almost immediately and that will.

Being grounded in your body is an important first step to healing the whole of you. Your body is how you are tangibly connected to the world, to others, and in many ways to yourSelf. When we are un-grounded we feel disconnected, “not quite myself.” Even if you have suffered physical trauma a reawakening to your corporeal being is first step to regaining control and personal power.

I have struggled with body image all my life and have rarely felt powerful or competent in my physical being. By focusing on getting into shape helped me reclaim the power(s) that were taken away from me by others, societal impositions, and cultural conventions. Occasionally, the residule effects that will always be with me rise to the surface – call out for attention. Too often the amount of attention demanded depletes energy for anything but psychic survival – all elese seems to fall by the wayside. Reconnecting with my body, grounding myself in the physicality of being is a sure way of getting control of those internal “demons” the wish to reassert themselves in my life.

The Challenge

To get your fitness routine back on track. Perhaps it was a tough stretch at work or a few weeks of back-to-back social plans that derailed your diet and exercise regimen. Perhaps depression, discouragement, or another emotional setback. No matter what the reason, falling off the fitness wagon is no fun--it can eat away at your confidence, which makes finding your motivation again a real struggle.

The Solutions

Retrace your steps. Start by examining the patterns and techniques that were effective for you--they will work again. For example, if training for your local 5k run kept your motivation afire, find another run event and register for it this week. Set whatever types of goals for yourself that you did then.
Create a road map. Just as you need a good map to find your way back to your planned route when you're lost, you need one for diet and exercise. The key is to carry over each week's goals as you add new ones. For instance, a map for healthier eating might include drinking eight glasses of water every day for one week, then adding an extra half-serving of fruits and vegetables daily for the next week, and so on.
Take action now. Never is the maxim "motivation follows action" more true than when it comes to exercise. One energizing workout can wipe away doubt and fatigue and give rise to positive thinking and forward motion, Kleiner says. Remind yourself of this whenever you're tempted to forgo the gym.
Ease back in. Reestablishing your momentum should happen gradually. Begin with 50 percent of the amount you were exercising before your break, then increase it by 5-15 percent each week. While this may feel like a painfully slow return, a gradual ramping-up will take the sting out of beginning again and keep you rolling along.

The Payoff

A plan makes returning to your usual healthy eating and regular workouts a lot easier. Even better, a renewed commitment to taking care of yourself will boost your self-confidence and improve your outlook, both of which will help you stick with your diet and exercise program going forward.

1-minute shapeovers:

Pinpoint what inspired you to get fit in the first place, and the things that knocked you off course this time. That way, you can prevent them from happening again.
Write down three things you can do this week that will help revive your workout program. Then, add them to your calendar and do them.
Call a friend, explain that you want to resume working out regularly and eating right, and invite her over for a short run or a healthful meal. Ask her to call you the next time she wants to go to the gym or cook together.

Thanks to Eric Harr, author of Triathlon Training in Four Hours a Week.

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