Long-term health
4 mins

A love letter for when you’ve helter-skeltered off track

by Emily Turner

Changing your lifestyle is no easy feat, nor a quick fix. Your progress may look like a game of snakes and ladders, rather than a clear ascent to success. When it’s going wrong, what do you do? How do you get back on track when you are angry, disappointed and down right fed up with yourself? Here’s what’s working for me.

The fear of failure

We’re creatures of habit and routine. We like what we know and we do what we’re used to doing. We often begin change with enthusiasm and then our good intentions can fall by the wayside as the reality of a new routine sets in. How many times have you been stuck in a cycle of trying, going off track, beating yourself up, punishing yourself and going so far off track, you’re practically living on another planet!

Change can be frightening to other people around you too. Sometimes others can feel bad about themselves when they see you making time for your own health. It’s not surprising, we’ve all been caught in the vicious cycle of trying to change our lifestyles.

How can this time be different? Accept that falling off the wagon is inevitable – life just simply gets in the way sometimes and you’re only human. It’s not about being perfect, it’s about getting back on it when you wobble off. It’s about shutting down the little voice when it pipes up: “See! What’s the point? You never stick it out! You might as well give up now. Treat yourself. Go on, go on, go on.”

When chocolate defeats you

I am no stranger to falling off the wagon, I could write a thesis on it. I’ve committed myself to moving more, eating better and sleeping longer this year. Two of the three are going much better than I thought. Eating better? Well, that’s my nemesis. If I’m tracking every day and planning meals, I am usually fine. Yet, if there is anything in the house that looks tempting, the struggle is real.

I made a mistake. I got my family’s Easter eggs early and hid them but these were magic chocolate eggs that could talk. They were calling to me morning, noon and night, “We’re here. We’re totally delicious. We’re waiting for you and you can always buy replacements!”

I tried to resist, I really did. Then I ate my mum’s egg. Not in a sophisticated way that says, “Oh I am a grown up, making a grown up decision to have a treat.” No. It was more like, “I’ve caved, so let’s get this over and done with as quickly as possible.” Within 30 mins, the giant egg was gone. I am not sure I even tasted it! If Dyson needs a human hoover, I’m their gal.

Handling all or nothing thinking

I felt so sick after the egg, hid the packaging, feigned ignorance about where it could possibly have gone and felt sorry for myself. This is the familiar cycle I know, except this time I am back to tracking and have forgiven myself. Hey, I’m even sharing it with you! 

We are our own worst enemy. It’s easy to punish yourself when things don’t go to plan. But this time the important thing is accepting yourself and moving away from thinking it is all or nothing. We can be held back by thinking that when we change, it has to be perfect with linear success.

This is what I tell myself then the little doubting voice gets too loud:

  • This voice is just a collection of thoughts and I’m not my thoughts
  • I’m worthy of self-care
  • I’m doing my best
  • I’m valued and loved
  • I’m more than a dress size 
  • I deserve good health for life

How to get back on track

If you’ve wobbled quite far off your intention, it might be hard to restart all your habits at once so don’t put that pressure on yourself. Start by adding in one habit at a time and build again from there.

Track from now on

Start understanding where you are again and restart your diary to track what you are doing, whether you are trying to get a grip on exercise, food or sleep.

Accept what’s happened

Don’t punish yourself – we’re changing for life and that will be a challenge. Allow yourself to move on.

Try to do one habit today

See how far you get:

  • Today I’m just going to move as much as I can and see where that gets me
  • I’m going to plan today’s meals, stick to the plan and see what happens 
  • I’m going to go to bed at a consistent time this week

Praise yourself

Whatever you achieve today, try to do a little bit more tomorrow.

Remember the long game

Small steps consistently achieve the biggest successes. We’re in this together and we all deserve a better menopause experience. We’ll get there, one step at a time. Find out more about menopause on our blog.

You are doing your best, and that’s good enough.