You’ve done it before and now you’re starting again – I hear you! Whether it’s jumping on the weight-loss wagon after falling off, or the lost kilos slowly creeping back on, you are not alone! In fact, it’s common for women (and men) to lose and regain the same 20 to 50 pounds many times throughout their lives. Think about your own journey: how many times have you ‘started again’?
And what about your physical fitness? How often have you gotten fit only for life to take over and have you slip back into lazy habits, resulting in loss of cardiovascular fitness and muscle strength, and finding it’s a major effort to get going again? Plus now your body is older, you have more creaks to iron out and maybe your muscles have somewhat atrophied over the years…
The latter is one of the hardest restarts because our brain still thinks it can run 10 km, lift a certain weight, have us jump around a cardio class for an hour like we did in your 20s, or bend into a yoga pose that was once so easy. I feel you! There’s a deep sense of dread that arises as we realise that we’ve fallen off the wagon, are out of practice and condition, whilst knowing deep down that we HAVE to start again.
We tell ourselves we will reach some goals, feel fabulous and never let ourselves slide sideways ever again! But then our brain searches for proof that this is possible before it realises that in the past, we’ve always eventually slipped sideways. That’s usually when the inner critic starts niggling; telling us: ‘why even bother; what’s the actual point?’
So let’s look at the facts at hand. Maybe you’re not as bad as when you last started your weight-loss journey, or perhaps you’re even in a worse place. Either way, starting again is never easy and it takes a lot of courage to admit to ourselves (and sometimes others) that we’re dreading taking action because we’re afraid that we might fail again, won’t stick at it, or can’t even face the reality of where we are at right now. Yet deep down, there is a desperation and yearning to restore our self-esteem and wellbeing.
Let’s face it, we all want to live a long and healthy life; no one wants to spend their days sitting on a couch pigging out on junk food whilst distracting ourselves from reality in front of the TV. The decades can slip by and before we know it, we’ve spent our lives in the world of make believe instead of living our true lives in reality. We don’t want to live the wrong life and then die! The thing is, to live a phenomenal life, we have to get into the arena to play!
Speaking for myself, I recently started my yoga practice again after a couple of years of doing very little. It was petrifying to realise that as a woman counting down the months to 50, my body was so crooked and creaky, and shockingly weak! I guess the past few years of lockdowns between New Zealand and the USA, where I was stranded for a year, resulted in me spending way too much time inside and getting comfortable with it. My fitness, strength and mobility all seemed to have hit an all lifetime low; it was quite a wakeup call!
My first class was over a live zoom beaming in from a yoga studio here in Queenstown. I followed through an easy Hatha class (with my camera off) and couldn’t believe that not a single joint in my body was in balance with the other side. But I got through that class, collapsed into a hot bath afterwards and it was freaking bliss! My body was so grateful!
So, my strategy to starting again was to book in and show up several times a week without excuses. I had to make these non negotiables and my inner critic (Miss Excuses) didn’t complain much after that. While getting started was the hardest part, the rest was easy and even pleasurable; it came with enormous benefits to all areas of my life. It also served as a reminder of how important it is to make ourselves a priority over everything else swirling around in our world.
It’s interesting to acknowledge though where the mind often takes us. While many of us will relate to ‘Miss Excuses’ who needs no introduction, I bet as many of us can relate to an archetype I call ‘Little Ms Perfect’, who suffers from perfectionism. Luckily for me, I’ve done a lot of work on her over the past couple of decades and she rarely bothers me anymore, but she does like to add a couple of things to my excuses list that have prevented me from taking action for a few months. These include having to have all the right gear, setting up my space beautifully and vacuuming under the couch (you experience the dust covering under your furniture rather intimately when you’re in downward dog or child’s pose in your living room!).
And the following morning, as I woke up with a few sore muscles, I remembered how I do love the feeling of soreness that exercise brings. So, instead of telling myself I needed a day’s rest to recover my body from the shock, I booked in that very same day for a Vinyasa Slow class (the beginners Vinyasa). I am aware enough of mindset psychology as to not create an excuse to let myself off the hook, so I didn’t! So, two days later, while my body was tired and my schedule full, I took my lunch break to do a full Vinyasa class and from there I was up and away! I was finally back into the rhythm of yoga, something I’ve loved on and off for over 30 years. Throughout that first week I felt an enormous sense of calm and wellbeing, my body was relaxed and the switch was made!
Well, I tended to ‘Little Ms Perfect’s’ basic needs by finding all my yoga gear and having it ready and in one place in a basket so I didn’t get frustrated looking for things, which would inevitably lead to a ‘stuff it, I’m running late now, so may as well flag it’ attitude. I also did a basic clean of my lounge so I didn’t fixate on dust under my couch causing inevitable sneezes, and set up a candle on my coffee table with a jug of water so my soul felt that little bit more nourished… and in I stepped!
So what does your inner ‘Little Ms Perfect’ say to you that might stop you from getting started? Sometimes she can literally overwhelm the nervous system causing us to grind to a halt and take no action at all. She’s the worst for convincing us that unless all our ducks are in a row, we can’t possibly start! If this sounds like you, maybe it’s a good opportunity for you to write her nonsense down and give her a bit of a talking to! This is a great strategy for figuring out what is real versus her way of giving you a long list of excuses to sabotage yourself with. She can be sneaky like that!
Here are my tips for starting over:
- Don’t let your mind negotiate or overthink things. It’s easy to talk ourselves out of things by making up excuses, valid or not. Just show up and follow through without thought!
- While starting over does take some mental and physical effort to begin with, repetition of new routines and habits do reprogram the brain in a very short amount of time and before you know it, your body takes over and it becomes an effortless process. From being a runner, I know that when I started going out for a morning 6 km/4 mile run, the first three weeks took some effort. But I distinctly recall a turning point moment when one day I woke up, put my running gear on and was out the door before my mind even came online! It was as though my body literally got me out of bed and out the door and that feeling stuck for years. I’d found that switch in my brain and it became a seamless exercise.
- Get organised the night before. I knew that if I laid my exercise clothes, socks and shoes out before I went to bed, that one-minute habit left very little room for ‘Miss Excuses’ to talk me out my morning run, especially when there was snow outside and I required three layers of clothing plus a hat! On the flipside, if I had to wake up and think about where everything was, the bed would have felt too warm and cosy, which would have left way too much room for my mind to kick online and talk me out of it. So, make sure you make things easy for yourself by setting up your day of success the night before. And when it comes to your food, cook extra at dinner and place it in a lunch box ready for the next day; clean your kitchen before you go to bed so you wake up stress free. It’s also a good idea to up a beverage bar and have your morning rituals ready to do. Whether that involves a shot of coconut cider vinegar, psyllium in vitamin C and/or your favourite wake up beverage, have it all in a cool spot by your kettle so your morning ritual space is a pleasure to visit, setting the scene for a good day!
- Trust that things will become effortless. Change does require a little conscious thought and a bit of negotiation to quieten the inner critic and her army of archetypal trolls. That said, within no time your body will crave these new habits and you’ll be feeling so much better for it; when that happens you know that you’ve made the switch!
- Stack as many reasons for making this change in your favour. Go back to basics on mindset by writing or revisiting your ‘50 Reasons Why’. Your brain responds to direct commands and in seeing the benefits of change. If you can’t think of 50 reasons why you want to make this change, write down 5 each day for 10 days when you first wake up in the morning. It’s a great practice to start your day with and get you into a positive, ‘kick into action’ mindset. You can add this to your morning gratitude practice.
Five things I am grateful for are….
Five reasons my life will thrive by making this change are…
- Get support from a likeminded community, ask for accountability and then make sure you follow through by showing up!
- Stop wasting time by making excuses! You have one life on this planet SisStar, so stop wasting precious time and step into your best life by doing the things you might not want to do now, but that will give you the life you truly desire to be living. Ultimately, you’d only be making those excuses to yourself, so pull your big girl socks up and take action NOW!
- Don’t wait for the perfect time as it doesn’t exist. The perfect time is right now. ‘Little Ms Perfect’ will try and get her way with you! But remember that perfectionism results in only one thing: the opposite of good. Learning to live with 70 to 80% instead of 100% will result in a calmer, more productive and fulfilling life. So drop the need to get your ducks in a row and just step into it knowing that nothing will ever really be perfect, but will always be enough. And believe in your soul that imperfections are what make you perfect just the way you are.
- Surround yourself with inspiring people, books, podcasts and support groups that will elevate and hold you in a place where anything is possible. We are tribal beings who need each other to give us strength, hope and belief that change is possible.
- Just do it! Stop negotiating and overthinking it, keep it simple and easy, and find the ways of achieving success that fit your lifestyle. For me, that meant starting live online yoga classes because I was too busy to drive to town, find a park and walk across town to class. This strategy meant I could save myself at least an hour each day (5 hours a week and around 20 hours a month) and, being a live class, I had to register, say hi to my teacher and participate in an actual class. Scheduling a video or following an exercise app doesn’t work for my brain. I needed to show up, be fully present and have some level of accountability.
We don’t achieve living our best life by having money, ‘the’ body, the accolades, the relationships and so on. Living our best life comes from self-love and being able to accept where we are right now; where we want to be in the coming days, weeks, months and years, and knowing our why’s. No matter what challenges we might be facing, we always have the choice to care for ourselves, feed ourselves well, give ourselves incredible energy and build our sense of self-worth and self-esteem by showing up to nurture our wellbeing.
Self-love is as much an action as it is a belief. It takes loving actions over time, to be able to authentically and truly love ourselves; without action, nothing changes.
So what can you do today, to take action to start again? Leave your excuses at the door and step towards your best life one foot at a time! You’ve got this!
Lots of love