Sometimes, it can seem like staying in shape is impossible when life becomes stressful. Even the most disciplined fitness enthusiasts face times when they lose motivation or feel like they can’t keep up with their current habits.
It’s normal to feel like life itself is against you and your efforts to stay in shape. It’s a myth that some special folks (the ones with the perfect bodies on Instagram) always feel motivated and happy to continue staying on the straight and narrow. It’s perfectly normal and natural to struggle at times.
The question is what do you do during such times? Here’s a list of my top tips for what to do when life makes it difficult to stay in shape.
#1 Don’t stop
I know it can be tempting to “take a break” and not work out or eat well when life gets tough, but I can’t advise enough against such an idea. Far too many people take a short break from their fitness habits vowing to return once the storms of life pass by, only to wake up one day to realize their break has lasted months or even years. Sure, they always intended to “get back on track” but once they realize they’ve been wasting their gym membership or that weight bench in the basement it’s all too easy to go that extra step and officially quit.
Getting back on track is better than giving up, but you’re now forced to make up for lost time. Chances are, you’ll get back on track once the seas of life become a bit calmer. These times are perfect to make a lot of progress, but instead of leaping forward you’ll be spending those prime times just to make up lost ground.
Staying the course and doing what you can to stay in shape avoids both of these scenarios and give you the best chance of success.
#2 Bend, flex and adjust
Staying the course doesn’t mean you have to stay on the straight and narrow though. Trying to eat perfectly clean or maintain a costly workout program can only make things more difficult and add to the stress you’re under.
Instead, adjust and bend the rules you’re following to accommodate your situations. If you find yourself with little energy, then use the energy you have. You don’t have to do everything perfectly or “correctly” to still gain some benefit from your habits. Scale back that workout and loosen up your diet as needed to weather the storm. Just do what you can with what you have for now. I promise it will still be worth it.
#3 Focus on efficiency
Staying in shape if often stressful when your fitness habits demand more time, money, or energy than you have. This is why it’s often a good idea to use efficient methods, like calisthenics, basic compound exercises, circuit training, and basic diet habits that are very efficient. The less you have to spend, the more bang for the buck you’ll gain from simple habits while keeping stress levels low.
#4 Learn and keep growing
Scaling back your fitness habits doesn’t mean you can’t continue to make progress. It’s still possible to make progress even if you’re scaling back your routine or loosening up your diet through learning.
As I mention in Fitness Independence, progress comes from learning new information and gaining new levels of understanding about your habits. The actual effort and work you put into your diet and workout programs are secondary. Tweaking your technique or learning a new recipe can still help you move forward even as you scale back your efforts to get in shape.
Above all, know that staying in shape isn’t always easy for everyone. The difference is in how you handle yourself during times of difficulty.