Changing life patterns and the habits of decades takes ongoing, concerted effort.

For me, the biggest challenge is to make that effort be work that I want to do, instead of work that I think I have to do.

This summer I’ve seen first-hand some poor health in my relatives, and I’ve been pondering those life changes. For example, if I had a heart attack, changing my diet and exercise choices would be a matter of urgency, a matter of keeping myself alive longer. Even though I haven’t had a heart attack, the urgency is just as real, but it doesn’t feel that way.

I have a relative who is diabetic and not managing her diabetes as well as she could. She’s not that much older than me, and seeing her this summer makes the dietary changes I’ve been working on feel much more urgent: Seeing where the path of self-neglect leads has been eye-opening.

And yet, in the face of all of that experience, getting enough exercise and eating right still feels like a chore most days, and it’s easy to slump. And it’s easy for a few days to turn into a few weeks. I’ve been going through a mini-slump for about a week, so I reached out to the people in my Facebook group and asked them for their best strategies for getting past a slump.

Here’s what they said:

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I pull up an old pic, see how far I’ve come and it motivates me to move my rump because I’m not going back,” Andrea wrote. “Gained 12 pounds this summer, was hoping it was more like 5-8, but nope weighed in this a.m. bare and first thing in the a.m. Plus 12. No worries, I’ve got a fail proof plan, back to healthy 5 meals a day, portion controlled and my daily ass kicking exercises.”

I go the gentle route. I give myself a break. Take the time off that I need. (Sometimes it’s not so much a slump as a respite.) Then I keep (gently) reminding myself who I want to be,” wrote Cindi. “I want to be strong, healthy and active. Remembering your successes helps. Visualize what you want to achieve.

Then I make a plan,” Cindi continued. “If you schedule in the time to work out you’re more likely to commit to it. Then, no matter how I feel, I show up at the scheduled time. I might do a light workout, but, at least I do something. If you keep showing up, soon enough your body remembers who good it feels to make the effort, and then you can’t help yourself. Viola! You’re back in the groove!”

Joyce had this to say: “Give it a time limit. I’ll do SOMETHING in 2 hours or after lunch. If I’m going upstairs I stoop and do 5 calf lifts. Anything to get my blood moving and my mind working again!”

My pattern is as follows: I get in a slump, and usually time it with going on a binge of eating poorly,” Ann wrote. “I follow said slump with some stupid crazy over the top workout…then I get really sore and don’t want to work out again for several days. I really want to change this pattern and recommend Cindi’s ideas. I love the idea of visualizing what you want to achieve and would add to imagine how you want to feel. I typically don’t worry so much now if I get into a slump. And try to schedule and plan ahead with exercising and eating better. I try really hard to not beat myself up about it because who needs that anymore.”

Yesterday, I did 1/2 of my Essentrics routine during a conference call while on speaker phone; and standing leg lifts in the shower (holding on to the rail, of course) because it was the only time I had to get in my workout! Oh the lengths I will go to now to find the time,” Susan wrote.

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My best strategy for overcoming slumps is my own stubbornness.

losing it Screenshot_20160815-195341I continue to make my health a priority, and I’ve watched my progress creep forward at a snail’s pace. While this can be frustrating, I know slow and steady is the best way to make these lifestyle changes, so I persevere. I’m not willing to continue on the path of least resistance, of self-neglect and slacking. I’m stubborn as a mule, and my plan is to put that trait to work for me—so when I get in a slump, I put my head down and keep pushing forward, however slowly. I will not allow myself to give up on myself.

One unexpected lift recently came with my new fitness tracker—this one has a neat feature that says, “Move!” if I’ve been sitting too long. I have a desk job, so I’m always sitting too long. Simply by getting on the treadmill at work for 5 or 10 minutes at a time, I’ve tripled my daily step count. I put in headphones, listen to a song or two, and walk. This has allowed me to get close to 2 miles a day walking, even on my deadline day. It seems insignificant, walking for 5 minutes at a time. But those baby steps really do add up.

How do you get past a slump in exercise and eating right? Contact me at leota@lobo.net or 505-286-1212, or join the conversation in my Facebook group, “I’m Losing It!” I’d love to hear your strategies.