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Look, Feel and Perform Better Challenge > Exit Strategy Primer

Sent this vial email also, but posting here since a few emails have bounced back.

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The Look, Feel, Perform Better Challenge: Exit Strategy Primer

This years challenge is a wrap as of tomorrow. Congrats! I hope you’ve done well and learned a thing or two. You won’t have to worry about points and logging in to record them. You can have all the junk food you want and not have to be accountable to anyone for it. You can miss active recovery and even miss a few workouts. Have you thought about how you will handle that? Are you planning a day of carbed up, alcohol fueled, debauchery? Are you terrified to not have the structure of a challenge?

Most of us will fall into one of these lines of thinking. It’s normal. So what can we do? First of all, examine what has worked well for you over the course of the challenge and give yourself a pat on the back for doing those things. Take an honest look at the habits that you enjoyed and found easy to follow and do more of that. It’s easy to look at the places we fail and get down about it. “If only I had been able to do X, Y, or Z, I would have killed this challenge! Next time I’m gonna do better.” Not everyone can or should eat the same way or follow the same habits. Trying to force yourself onto a rigid path you won’t follow long term will lead to rebellion and feelings of failure when you inevitably stray. Instead, look to the things that went well for inspiration. They are places where you can improve even more and foster feeling of success. If you came to enjoy cooking homemade meals then learn a few new recipes to shore up your arsenal. If you realized that it wasn’t really that hard to do a few minutes of active recovery each day and your body felt better for it then keep it up or add another mobilization to your routine. Took your fish oil daily? Stayed hydrated with water as your primary beverage? Turned off the television and got more sleep most nights? Kept booze at a minimum. Great! Keep those things going.

If you would do great with your habits most of the time but then go awol, try and find reasons for this. Examine the factors that were consistent with the break from your plan. Was it peer pressure from friends and co-workers to eat like a “normal” person? Evaluate the people you hang with and how their habits affect their own health. What does a “normal” person eat, anyway? Make efforts to surround yourself with people who share your healthy mindset or at least support your efforts. If most times when you passed a certain bakery on your walk home you caved and bought a slice of pie, take a look at what your day was like leading up to that point. Maybe you were stressed, tired, cranky, and hungry. That would lessen your will to resist the pie. You could plan a healthy snack an hour before leaving work, or a 5 minute meditation break in your office before heading out the door.

Even if you go off your plan, remember that you are always making choices. There’s a big difference between making a conscious, deliberate decision to have a cheeseburger and fries at dinner with friends versus going out hungry with no plan and falling into that choice because that’s what everyone else ordered. If you plan to have a not-so-great dinner you might also plan to eat extra clean throughout the day, hit it hard at the gym before dinner, and have a healthy breakfast packed for the following morning making it easier to start the next day off right. The other way around leaves us feeling powerless, like we have no will to resist the cheeseburger and fries, and more likely to start the next day with a bagel and cream cheese. If you’re going to be at a wedding or family event that you know will have all of your favorite cheats then you can choose to have a small amount of each of them instead of trying to abstain 100% then overeating because you already “messed up”. This allows you to have have the cheats at the same time as succeeding because you had a plan. We are the sum of our choices, so choose wisely. Remember that healthy people don’t eat perfect all the time and don’t always feel like working out, but they do choose to do so more often than not.

So have a plan for how you’re going to act as of midnight on Friday. Relax a little bit and reward yourself, keeping in mind that Saturday is really just any other day. Hopefully you entered this challenge to change a few things about your life and not just a lot of things for six weeks. Consider the challenge an on-ramp to the highway. You’ve gathered some speed, now get in a lane settle in for the long road.

February 13, 2014 | Registered CommenterChristian Fox