Over my years of competing and also coaching clients one thing that we all experience at some stage is some kind of setback that has an impact on how we progress in achieving our goals. These can be anything to binging on junk food, injury or problems with work/home/family life. All of these issues if you let them can unfortunately slow progress and mentally effect how you perceive your goals.

So here are a few pointers I would keep in mind when life throws you a curve ball to help you keep moving in the right direction

One mistake won’t ruin all of your hard work

Whenever I give myself or my clients a goal to aim towards it is always a long term sustainable change. This means that going forward you won’t feel like you are on a strict diet and it will be part of your everyday life. The other part is it is long term, so if you have fallen off the wagon by having too much to eat when you’re out for dinner or slept in so couldn’t make your workout it’s not the end of the world. The days, weeks and months leading up to it and more importantly the days going forward are what will define your progress. So draw a line under it and move on.

Use several indicators not just scales

Many of my clients get really hung up on the scales which can play terrible mind games especially if you’ve fallen off the wagon and ate more than you should have. Eating junk food can cause temporary weight gain through your body retaining water (often from the large amount of salt in junk food). So don’t make yourself feel worse by weighing yourself the day after, wait until you are back on track to step on the scales. On the other hand if things have been going well your weight may have stayed the same or went up slightly and make you feel like you’re getting nowhere.

Personally I like to use several indictors to show progress; measurements (waist, thigh, hips, arms, chest, neck and arms), pictures (front, back and sides) and also how you feel in your clothes and in general. I have had clients devastated that the scales have stayed the same but when I ask how their clothes are feeling they tell me they have dropped a dress size! Even when I was dieting for comps my weight would fluctuate by sometimes +/- 5lbs but I knew I had done everything right so not to stress and believe in the process.

Focus on your weekly progress

If you have a big night out planned or special occasion then you are totally fine to reduce your calories over the week to fit this into your weekly allowance. Eg. If you have a target of 2000 calories a day this equates to 14000 calories over the week. So if you plan on going over your calorie goals on the Saturday night say by 1000 calories taking you up to 3000 you can reduce your calories over the other 6 days by 167 (167 x 6 = 1002) and still stay on track.

Plan in advance

A major cause of setbacks for many of my clients is not planning their meals in advance. If you can plan all of your meals and snacks for the following day with healthy non processed foods that will keep you feeling full throughout the day there is no reason for you having to grab any convenience food to satisfy your hunger

Don’t starve yourself

The other outcome I have seen is not eating at all and again often this comes down to having nothing prepared. Think of your body as a hugely efficient engine, if you don’t give it the fuel and nutrients it requires it won’t work as well as it should. This can lead to you feeling terrible, being irritable and having no energy to carry out your daily tasks.

Don’t go to extremes

This is another common outcome of many people who either binge or miss training. To try and soften the blow of the excess calories they have consumed they will do an excessive amount of exercise. Now I completely understand the reasoning in trying to do this and if you are being sensible this is actually not a bad idea. However over exercising can have numerous side effects from headaches, soreness for long periods of time, injury and also illness. So by all means do a little extra but the best resolution is always to get straight back on track with your regular eating and training.

Learn from your mistakes

In order for this to not happen again you need to realise why and how you got into this situation and learn from your mistakes. If it is something that was unavoidable then what can you do to make sure it doesn’t happen again? If it was unavoidable then plan how to better deal with a similar situation next time so that you stay in control of your diet and training.

Setbacks happen to everyone at some stage and it is how you deal with them which will ultimately define how you progress in your health, fitness and body goals. If it’s important to you then you’ll find a way, if not you’ll find an excuse. Stay strong, stay focussed and make yourself proud.

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