Monday, July 12, 2010

In a Slump? Try My "Lowered Expectations Plan"

As some of you know, I am coming out of a period where I have been inconsistent in my focus.  Outsiders might call it a slump.  Fair enough.  A few things put that in motion, but once I got into that place, well, I stayed there for awhile (for about five weeks).  No gains, no losses...but no progress on This Clydesdale Project of mine.  I still have pounds to lose, muscles to strengthen, and a new healthier lifestyle to build. 

But, now I feel like I am back in the zone!  And it feels good.  I have been trying to understand what got me back on my plan and I think that there are a few key elements that I would like to share in hopes that it could be useful to others (or to help me when this happens again in the future).  I am calling it the "Lowered Expectations Plan".  These are the steps I took to help me get back on track:
  1. Go the grocery store! - I stocked up on good, healthy foods.  I know, it's very simple.  But simply going to the grocery store to get those very healthy low-cal foods helped me to get back on track and avoid fast food and comfort foods.
  2. Walk, Very Far! - Okay, exercise is my weakness.  I don't usually care for it and if I have been away from it, I really dread moving again.  That just leads to more procrastination.  So, I recently decided that if I have been away from exercise for awhile (a week or two), then I will get back to it by setting very low expectations for the workout.  Used to run?  Then commit to a walk, a looonnnnggggg walk.  For me, that is 5-7 miles.  Sure, I might only get a light sweat going, but this is a lot more appealing than a strenuous workout.  The beauty of it is this:  my legs just know that it is time to get moving again.  Within several days of long walks, I found that I WANTED to jog/run again.  This is the most valuable of these steps for me. 
  3. Commit to Something! - If I could figure out how to add a tag line to my blog heading, my motto would be "Commit.  Train.  Results."   That has basically become my philosophy of The Clydesdale Project.  It could work for you as well.  Try committing to a near-term goal like losing 4 pounds over the next two weeks.  Or walking X miles, X minutes, or X times per week.  Commit to a race or event taking place a few months from now, so you have something to train for.  That is exactly how I started my journey about a year ago.
  4. Tell Someone! - The commitment, the effort, or the plan may not stick for you, if you easily let yourself off the hook.  Batman trains alone, but most of us don't have that discipline.  (In fact, has anyone seen Batman's blog lately?  Maybe he's in a slump too!).  Find another blogger (like me) that you will partner up with for a short while to help keep you accountable.  Maybe you post your goal on your blog.  Maybe you write to someone directly via e-mail and ask them to hold you accountable daily...just for a week or two, until you are back on track.    
I know that this tends to be common-sense stuff, but let's face it, this isn't a game of knowledge.  We all KNOW that the McDonald's Value Meal #4 is bad for us and that hope is not found on the couch, yet we like the comfortable life.  So, I believe that most of us have to be very intentional about making these healthy choices.   That means we have to work on our psychology.

If I have been in a slump, I may not be have the mental toughness to start instantly running again or going for an aggressive workout.  For me, that means lowering my expectations of my next workout and healthy choices, just so I can begin to walk out of my slump.

I hope this might be helpful to someone out there.  I am no expert.  These are just a few tips that seem to work, based on my recent experiences.  And I may need them again someday.

What tips do you have to help you out of a slump?

Big Clyde


Kim Ayres said...

We need tactics to help sustain us when motivation is low or absent.

The most useful one I can offer is to get into a habit of making healthy choices.

If at every decision point - whether it is deciding what to have for lunch, or whether to use the stairs instead of the elevator, then we say to ourselves, "what's the healthy option?"

And that's proper health, not silly diet - real food, not a lettuce leaf.

But if we get into a habit, so that several times a day we are saying "what's the healthy option?", within a couple of weeks it will begin to become second nature.

And even if sometimes there isn't a healthy option, far more often than not we will see another path which is better than the default.

Remember, the focus is always on health, and then the weight loss occurs as a side effect of that.

MizFit said...

for me I do the same in a sense.
Ill take a week of setting goals/expectations still but as you did SET MYSELF UP FOR SUCCESS.

I also tend to revisit old successes.
for me a slump tends to be a crisis of CAN I DO THIS?! faith.

it helps me to look back at times I HAVE DONE IT! and remind myself I can...

carla said...

for me I do the same in a sense.
Ill take a week of setting goals/expectations still but as you did SET MYSELF UP FOR SUCCESS.

I also tend to revisit old successes.
for me a slump tends to be a crisis of CAN I DO THIS?! faith.

it helps me to look back at times I HAVE DONE IT! and remind myself I can...

fatty blogsticks said...

clyde, we're so on the same page. i'm sucking up that injection of fresh enthusiasm and am clawing my way out of my sad, sedentary slump today! lowered expectations, i like it!

i'll be keeping my eye on you!

Big Daddy Diesel said...

"lowering my expectations" sounds like I am giving up, that I set my bar too high, sorry, I am just being honest, you gone so far, we all have slumps, what I do, is change my routine for a bit and then have a mind and body blowing training session, that is pure pain, so high and beyond what I am use to that when I go back to my normal training, it feels easy compared to what I just put my body through

Epiphany said...

We are on the same page. I find the goal/ reward method helps. Baby steps. Little successes can add up easily over time. But the thing that helps me the most is telling all of you what is really going on.

I can't thank you enough Clyde for posting this.

Matty O said...

Man, I get to a point where I am fed up (currently where I am at) and then change it up and go twice as hard as I was before.

Gonna start lifting again to burn the fat fast.

Good luck! Push hard and get the body back on the losing track!

Patrick said...

I do like your lower the bar approach to slump busting. Lower it and then raise it back up slowly over time, sounds like a winner. Otherwise my best advise for slump busting is to change up the routine. Change the foods, change the actual exercises, get out of the zone that has become a rut for a while.

Al (losingharry) said...

Great post Clyde...I've lowered them already.

Christine said...

For me, I can tell I'm in a slump when I start off my thoughts with, "tomorrow I'm going to..." or "Next week when my schedule gets less crazy I'm going to...." Self-defeating!! If you want change, it needs to happen RIGHT NOW. Not tomorrow. Not next week. Now. Once I get off my lazy butt to make a salad/go to the gym/do lunges in the bathroom/whatever, it's already putting me in the motion of "being on track."

So yeah, that's my slump-warning.

FatBastard said...

Great post - I'm right with ya on the exercise and long walking. My back seizes up, but I'm trying to get all the walking in that I can. You go man!

Thomas said...

Good post and suggestions, Clyde.

Thanks for visiting my blog. Running and cycling are great ways to loose weight and they both complement each other very well. You don't need to run distance longer than 5K to loose weight. It is the intensity that counts, i.e., running fast and doing interval workouts are effective ways to burn fat. Also, recent studies suggest running/cycling/exercising on empty stomach may speed up weight loss, although I myself wouldn't recommend anyone to do it since I am not a health physician.

If you're looking for good shoes, I recommend Brooks. Go to their 'Shoe Advisor' website and it will walk you through the shoe selection process to help you find the best shoes for your weight, feet and specific running distance.

Good luck and look forwarding to our interactions on blogger world!


bniedzie said...

I love it! for me i think i set them too high its been about two weeks now and i haven't done really much of anything probably because i burn myself out but after reading this i feel inspired to get back out there and try try again

Alan said...

Clyde, you're right on here! We do the Saturday Farmer's Market to load up. And yes, as I think of what advice to give others, "START" is the best I can do. Commit and start. You WILL get results!