Recently I read a fantastic article (Livestrong article here) discussing the reasons behind the failure of most diet and exercise programs. Like most things in life, the truth is just common sense. For me, it required a knowledgeable person to present this truth in a way that I will listen. The author of this article (renowned fitness expert John Romaniello) points out two very insightful truths as to why regimens breakdown. The first is when people make a mistake (i.e. eat a piece of chocolate cake or skip a workout) they tend to allow this misstep to snowball out of control.
For me it usually sounds something like this; “Well I already ate the cake so I might as well drink some beer and sleep in tomorrow morning too.” I, like most, lack the ability to “fail small”. The next big decision when a regimen is broken is when do you start back up? For most a logical starting point is next Monday. This truth is pointed out in gym data, where Mondays are 30% busier than any other day of the week. If you’re like me that’s probably not surprising as my Mondays at the gym are usually spent elbow to elbow on the elliptical machines yet by Thursday I might have the run of the place. So what’s the solution? Romaniello suggests changing your paradigm.
The only thing special about Mondays is that they are the first day in your work week. It was hard at first but the more I allowed myself to start fresh every day the easier it was to keep a regimen. This allowed me to not beat myself up when I failed on a given day on exercise or diet. The second piece of the solution is, as Romaniello puts it, to “fail small” or as I like to think of it “fail forward”. Sometimes I get caught up in the mindset that if my health regimen is not perfect for a day then what’s the point of staying on it? I’ve found if I cut myself some slack after a bad decision, then it’s much easier to bounce back and keep moving toward my diet and fitness goals. As everyone has probably heard before “Perfect is the enemy of good.” So no more waiting until Monday to start a diet and exercise program. It’s the middle of the week. What a great time to start!