Everyone’s got that ideal version of themselves created inside their mind. Some days, we fully live who this person is and the “perfect” lifestyle they lead, other times, we completely fall off the wagon. No one is perfect — it’s human nature to be tempted by things that offer short term pleasure at the expense of long term goals.
You’re four weeks out from your big meet. Last night you caved and ordered some extra drinks with your crew. You tell yourself it’s OK because “tomorrow is a new day”, but a day — then two — go by and you still haven’t gotten yourself back into the flow of things. Falling out of a consistent routine is easy. Getting yourself back on track is the real work. By establishing some simple rules or “tricks” to start fresh and help you get back on the right path, you’ll find yourself shifting gears in no time.
Whether it was an impromptu night out, a friend’s birthday bash or a wedding weekend, here are 5 simple rules to follow when you get off track from your goals.
[Don’t miss our ultimate guide to cutting weight for competition!]
1. No Food From Wrappers
Sticking to only eating whole foods or ingredients can really make a difference if you’ve been slacking in the nutrition department. I’m talking buying a crap ton of veggies, fruits, clean protein, and fibrous carbs. The accessibility to quick and easy meals has become more abundant in the past few years. You’ll find even the healthier snack options in the “Natural Food” aisle at the grocery store are hiding extra calories and refined sugars. So, by sticking to celery dipped in homemade hummus or a few apple slices with some raw almonds, you’ll be running on clean fuel which will give your mind the clarity it needs to perform at your best.
2. Drink Your H2O!
It may seem obvious, but have you ever tried to drink the daily recommended water intake? Given the average human brain and heart is composed of 73% water, ensuring you’re meeting your daily hydration quota can not only help reset your body but also your mind. Dehydration can affect your concentration and reduces your short-term memory. Since your brain will be operating at a fraction of its overall capacity, dehydration can also affect your cognitive awareness, therefore, prompting you to make poor or less than ideal decisions. Tempted by those free Friday office treats? Stick to having a fresh glass of H2O instead. Bonus: A big glass of water before a meal is a great way to curb hunger if you’re cutting weight.
[Learn more: 3 ways to get stronger in the next 5 minutes.]
3. Unplug 30 Minutes Before Bed
If you’re looking to hit “reset”, nothing compares to a solid uninterrupted night of sleep.
Any artificial light (including LEDs, fluorescent and incandescent bulbs) has the potential of disrupting a normal sleep cycle. Your body’s biological clock functions in rhythms. These are set on the amount of natural light and darkness you’re exposed to every day. It starts with your retinas detecting the amount of light you’re exposed to and relaying this signal to your brain’s hypothalamus region. The hypothalamus is in charge of regulating your sleep cycles by releasing sleep-specific hormones (such as melatonin) to tell your body it’s time to start powering down.
Now, you can already imagine how staring at your smartphone screen way past sunset can cause some people to run into problems when trying to fall asleep. The excess blue LED light can delay your hypothalamus to release melatonin, therefore, resulting in your brain staying alert for longer than you’d like. Commit to unplugging 30 minutes before your head hits the pillow and take this time to let your eyes adjust to lower light and for your body to wind down. You’ll feel more refreshed come the morning!
[Read Ben Pollack’s 3 tips for better sleep after nighttime training.]
4. Swap Your Coffee for Herbal Tea
Excess acidity and caffeine can often make you feel more rundown than anything else, especially when your body is already in overdrive. Switching to herbal tea anytime after 12:00 pm (even 10:00 am for all you early risers) can make a drastic difference in your overall mood and cognitive awareness if you’re finding yourself feeling overwhelmed and agitated by caffeine. Depending on which herbal tea you choose, you’ll find a variety of benefits each type offers. For example, peppermint tea may aid digestion and help with some kinds of headaches. Whereas ginger tea is loaded with anti inflammatory properties and antioxidants.
5. Get Your Daily Dose of Sunshine
It’s no coincidence that after spending a long day at the beach you generally feel light, uplifted and happy. A daily dose of sun exposure plays a big role in regulating your emotional state. Getting enough Vitamin D allows for the release of serotonin, the main neurotransmitter responsible for feelings of well-being and happiness. If you know you spend more time indoors during the week, block off some time in your calendar for a short 10-minute walk between meetings. Or, you can mix up by taking your workout outside. (Hill sprints anyone?)
Extra sunshine can offset stress and help you make better decisions throughout the day.
Staying consistent in a routine requires lots of discipline. Even the most dedicated people and athletes get off track and need to hit “reset”. Whether it be preparing for an upcoming competition or coming back from a week-long tropical vacation, establishing a good structure that you know works for you will help get you back into your routine in no time.