Getting Back to 100%: How to Just Stop and Start Fresh
Raise your hand if you've ever felt "stuck." Stuck, as in you're really trying as hard as you can but you seem to spin in the same circle over and over. Stuck, as in continually beating yourself up for not accomplishing everything you say you will. Stuck, as in you're down on yourself because your best-laid plans for healthy meals, energizing workouts, and hours of restorative sleep have turned into frozen dinners, lackluster gym appearances, and exhaustingly low levels of sleep.
Sure, we've all felt stuck at one time or another, and it seems the loss of an hour over this past weekend has compounded already rushed schedules and made sleepy mornings just downright dreadful. In an effort to help each other (and you) find a little more time, patience, and understanding in each day, I asked the Cooking Light and MyRecipes teams to share how they just stop!—and then how they restart in a fresher, more meaningful way.
"I need to sit down and make a plan--both a big picture one for the next week or so, and then for specific situations (i.e. I'm going out with girlfriends on Wednesday night. I can either have some of the cheese dip or a beer or two, not both.) This way, I feel like I'm back in control of the situation versus it controlling me." – Cindy Hatcher, Cooking Light Senior Editor
"As a former college athlete, I used to get frustrated when I'd stop exercising and get out of shape. I took an all-or-nothing approach to cardio and calisthenics, like if I wasn't going full bore then it wasn't worth it. Now I try to do at least one active thing for 20 to 30 minutes every day rather than feeling guilty about not getting a full hour of exercise in. Same goes with cooking. I used to be a professional cook who loved being at the stove every day, and cooking at home makes me really happy. But I have a young family and a busy job, so now a win for me is to cook simple meals three to four times a week. Whether it's exericinsg or cooking, don't beat yourself up to the point where it's all or nothing. Doing something is progress." – Hunter Lewis, Cooking Light Editor
"When I realize that I haven't worked out in two weeks, I look at my sleeping patterns and stress levels and adjust. Typically, if I start to skip workouts, it's because I'm staying up too late, which makes me 100% unmotivated to hit the gym in the morning. Even if I try to work out after work, the lack of sleep plus the busy work day has worn on me by the end of the day, and all I want to do is go home and kick up my feet. Sleep is key. Yes, we hear it all the time—because it's TRUE." – Rebecca Longshore, CookingLight.com Assistant Editor
"My issue is that I feel like if I can’t get in a whole workout, long walk, or big run, what’s the point? I forget that a walk around the block is more than doing nothing—for both me AND my dog. I try to remember that I need to move at least 30 minutes of the day, but that can be 6 five-minute chunks." – Ashley Kappel, MyRecipes.com Senior Editor
"A few days ago, I decided that I needed balance and to start putting myself first, or I wouldn’t be any good to myself, anyone else, or my job. So, I broke out another to-do list and calendar and put exercise at the top of the list. Unlike my other to-do lists, I'm not going to overwhelm myself by trying to do everything at once. My focus is on accomplishing three major things per day—exercise being one, and then concentrate on smaller assignments or tasks as I go along. I’ll try not to give myself too much grief if those smaller things don’t get checked off the list, because that will only add to the stress and chaos I’m already experiencing." – Michelle Darrisaw, Cooking Light Editorial Assistant
"Josh and I are taking our one-year anniversary trip at the end of this month to Napa, and now that I have a goal in sight to look forward to, it has given me something to work towards. I want to feel good while we are there, and I think having something to set my sights on has helped. I'm hoping the good habits will last after the trip of course because I've already been feeling better and more energized. To also help me get out of the rut, I've prioritized things in my life more – like I'm putting my workout before having a spotless house! That may mean a little change in the mornings (instead of sweeping and making the bed every morning I don't worry about it if I'm going to my workout) – or I spend an extra five minutes to make a healthy bowl of oatmeal instead of eating a quick bowl of sugary cereal." – Kathleen Varner, Cooking Light Assistant Photo Editor
"Usually my rut is cooking similar foods, or putting off shopping until my meals feel a little scrounged or less than healthy. I break out by getting inspired: I'll flip through a new cookbook or one I haven't looked at in a while and see what my favorite food bloggers are up to, or lately, flip through old issues of CL for the recipes I remember loving but never made myself. Then I'll clean out my fridge and reorganize it so I know what I have, then grocery shop with a total "starting fresh" mindset." – Hannah Klinger, Cooking Light Associate Editor
"I have a really bad habit of letting one splurge ruin a day, and then a week, and then it stretches out into a period of time from which I feel like I can never recover. Earlier this month, I was in Chicago for a convention. It involved lots of wine and fancy food and sweets and drinks. When I was in the airport on my way home, I splurged on a burger and fries. I remember thinking to myself, 'Why try to be healthy now? You've totally blown it every day this week.' That's the wrong attitude, and that's the attitude I'm fighting to stop. Every moment is your New Year's Day. Every moment is a chance to recommit yourself to sticking to your goals and starting fresh. I don't really subscribe to the idea that you have to give yourself benchmarks for starting something. Instead of giving yourself artificial deadlines of success or failure, give yourself the flexibility to be constantly changing and improving. Messed up at lunch and ate a bit more than you should have? Don't beat yourself up. Instead, focus on your next choice. Maybe that's picking a glass of water instead of sweet tea or coffee. How about an orange instead of a bag of chips? If you give every food decision the weight to impact your entire day or week, you're giving food far more power than it should have. Start fresh, starting now." – Kimberly Holland, CookingLight.com Associate Editor
More Healthy Living Advice: