Ever throw your physical health out the window because life got crazy? Yeah, me too. Most people have. The reason we abandon health when we get overwhelmed isn’t because it’s physically hard, but because we’re psychologically exhausted. Brain fog sets in. Focus feels less like a jackhammer for crushing your goals and more like a Fisher Price hammer for crushing … well, nothing.
When you try to “get back on the wagon,” you can’t. You remember that you used to be able to do this. But now you keep failing. Why?
Here’s the path to overcome:
1. Address the Brain Fog First
Don’t keep banging your head against the wall. Don’t keep trying and failing. Just stop trying for a moment. You’re going through something tough. Ask yourself:
“What am I avoiding right now?”
“What feelings am I trying not to feel?”
“What issue am I trying not to face?”
“What reality have I been running from?”
You may need to cry. You might even need to have a conversation with someone. Brain fog can be the mind’s way of yanking on our leash: “Before you transform your body, you need to make peace with this issue in your life.” Our minds can hold our willpower hostage until we deal with something we’ve been avoiding. Brain fog is a way our body tells us: “Stop running away from yourself.”
2. Scale down your goals.
Big goals can turn your willpower into a rat’s nest of anxiety. You might be sabotaging your body transformation goals by making them too big. You don’t have to stop dreaming big forever. But while you’re taking a breath to deal with your brain fog, it can be effective to say: “Instead of transforming my body, I’m just going to maintain.” Use this time to set a pace, to get a sense of rhythm. You can’t imagine the power 1 month of consistent maintenance can have on the next year.
3. Scale down your methods.
Instead of making your goal: “I’m gonna crush it in the gym 5 days a week every week for a month,” make it simple: “A 1-hour brisk walk per day.” It’s simple. You can do it anywhere. And you can use this time to reflect on the things that matter.
A brisk walk with no headphones or technology is one of the most effective ways to combat brain fog. You’re not to exasperated to think deeply. You’re not sedentary enough to be anxious. You are in action mode, but you are in calculated control. A brisk walking habit is an extremely effective way to hit “Reset” on your willpower.
4. Scale down what you expect from yourself.
A wise man I know once told me: “Most people overestimate what they can accomplish in 1 year, and underestimate what they can accomplish in 5 years.” So true. Don’t sabotage fitness goals you could accomplish in 1 year by trying to accomplish them in 3 months.
Celebrate every win.
Don’t count 5 pounds lost as “10 pounds short of my goal.” Celebrate it. Keep going.
• Address the issue you've been avoiding.
• Scale down your goals.
• Scale down your methods.
• Scale down your expectations from yourself.
Your mind will be happy with you. It will reward you with focus. You'll wonder how your refused yourself so much for so long, all while expecting so much from yourself in return.