3 Ways to Get Back on Track During an Off Day

By , Haley Perlus, Ph.D.
We’ve all been there. We had a few fabulous days of eating healthy and exercising and then—BANG—all of a sudden life happens. A late night out with friends, a last-minute business trip, a sick child at home. You’ve either missed your designated time for fitness or you simply don’t have the energy to prepare a healthy meal. Either way, you’ve hit a wall and are having an off day. Sometimes it can take several days before you find yourself inspired enough to give your nutrition and exercise program another shot. It’s the vicious cycle of yo-yo dieting at its best, but it can be stopped.
As an expert of sport and exercise psychology, one of my objectives is to help my clients work through the off days we all inevitably experience from time to time. Here are three techniques you can use right now to not only get switched back on during an off day, but also to limit the amount of off days you have altogether. The end result is that you’ll give yourself the greatest opportunity to follow through on your daily goals and achieve your personal best mind, body and overall spirit. 
1. Undervalue the bad days and overvalue the good ones. Many people have been conditioned to harp on their mistakes while quickly moving forward from their successes. Consequently, this way of thinking and behaving robs them of the opportunity to develop maximum confidence—a cornerstone of a healthy lifestyle.

In sports, professional athletes and coaches will often say that the person who wins is usually the person who can best recover from errors. Top athletes have learned to identify their mistakes, but instead of dwelling there, they quickly learn from them and move on. They also take the time to pat themselves on the back for all of their achievements.
It’s okay to strive for perfection, but as soon as you start demanding it, you are setting yourself up for disappointment. When life gets in the way of following your diet and fitness plan to a ''T,'' take five minutes for personal reflection. Remind yourself that it’s OK if things don’t go 100 percent according to plan. It's helpful to identify the things you could better control for next time, but then quickly move on and focus on at least one achievement you have already made that day (or yesterday if it’s first thing in the morning). Taking your focus away from the negative and toward your personal strengths and accomplishments will create a boost of positive energy for finishing the day with a success.

2. Change your environment. When people have an off day, they are experiencing a reduced level of motivation for healthy living. Fortunately, there is an easy fix for this problem; research continues to prove that motivation and productivity increases when our environment changes. In fact, a commonly-used phrase in sports psychology is, ''A change is as good as a rest.''

Any type of change, such as stepping outside for some fresh air, turning on motivational music, finding a new healthy recipe, or getting off the treadmill and onto the elliptical can generate fresh motivation to help you stay on track with your diet and fitness plan. Whenever you feel a lack of motivation for your healthy lifestyle, change up at least one aspect of your environment and experience what it’s like to have your batteries recharged and motivation restored!

3. Just move. Sometimes the hardest thing to do is get off the couch and just start to move. However, once you start moving and the dopamine kicks in, you’ll find it much easier to keep going. During off days, it’s less important to stick to the pre-planned exercises or routine and more important to just get up and do something. If you really don’t feel like lifting weights, get outside and go for a walk. If you don’t feel like spending 20 minutes in the kitchen preparing a healthy meal, choose something simple to eat (that’s still healthy).
The next time you experience an off day, challenge yourself to commit 5-10 minutes to taking action on one of the three techniques above. Once you start moving, you’ll experience an amazing shift in energy, focus, confidence, and overall commitment to your healthy lifestyle.

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ELSCO55 8/23/2020
Thanks Report
CECELW 8/21/2020
great advice for sure Report
EVIE4NOW 7/22/2020
Good advice. Thanks Report
MNABOY 7/11/2020
Thanks! Report
I so needed this! Report
JANIEWWJD 7/4/2020
Good article!!! Report
Thanks Report
BONNIE1552 6/2/2020
Music & movement are the best helps for me :) Report
NASFKAB 4/20/2020
useful Report
KITTYHAWK1949 4/15/2020
need this. thanks Report
1CRAZYDOG 4/14/2020
Off days don't last forever. Report
MAREE1953 4/13/2020
For the past 30 yrs I've attended one type of exercise class or another. With the virus closing of our gym, my motivation is challenged. Looking forward to the lifting of the stay at home order so I can get back to class! Report
KOALA_BEAR 2/5/2020
Yes there are off days but never thought much about them. Just get thru them & start again the next day or as soon as possible, like if sick. There is no try, only do. Gotta be persistent to improve my health & extend my lifespan. Report
Great advice. Turning on my music now Report
KHALIA2 12/9/2019
Thanks! Report
A good read, it is easier to get off track then to get yourself back on track. Report
thanks Report
Thank you.
I try not to let an occasional bad day turn into two. Thanks for advise. Report
Getting back on track assumes you were on track to start with. I am not a train; I don't run on tracks. Report
Great tips Report
Thanks Report
Good article snd some very good comments. Report
Good article snd some very good comments. Report
Thanks for sharing. Report
Very relevant to me today, thank you! Report
Great tips Report
Great article! Report
Great ideas! Report
Informative and helpful article. The concept of undervaluing bad days is a new concept for me. I think I will need to return to this article a few times until it sinks in. Thanks for the info. Report
Great article. Report
Great advice, works every time. Thanks ;- )

great article Report
Short and to the point! I like it! Report
Great advice Report
Good article. Report
We tend to be very critical of ourselves. Report
great article Report
Good advice. Report
Good tips Report
Reflecting on what I did right and what I did wrong is always helpful, plus just the simple action of GETTING UP AND MOVING is always a great way to reset an off day! Report
Going for a nice, slow, long walk is nice. Report
A warrior who had more than he needed would make a feast. He went around and invited the old and needy. Black Elk (Ogala Lakota) 4/28/18 Report
Doing what I can. Each day will get easier. Report
Thanks for the reminder Report
Awesome! Thanks Report
Good ideas Report
Thank you! Report
With the help of my Smart Watch I am reminded to get moving every hour. I learned long ago not to stress over what I cannot control, it took awhile. Unnecessary stress is harmful to every aspect of life. Report