For most of us, setting goals is easy. We simply declare whatever it is we want to do to improve ourselves—whether it's lose weight, build muscle, quit smoking, improve our relationships, cut back on sweets or some other healthy ambition. But making them happen, that’s where the real work starts.
If you've been struggling with setbacks, lack of progress or a discouraging plateau, the solution might not be to add more workouts, but to subtract something else. Take a moment to evaluate your regimen, identify what could be holding you back and then remove it. Maybe it's junk food, a negative friend or countless hours on the treadmill. Sometimes it's an obvious offender, like a sugar addiction or an unwillingness to get up early for a workout. Or it could be something more obscure, like a sabotaging spouse or an excessive cardio habit.
We asked a few health and fitness enthusiasts what they broke up with to achieve their goals. The answers might surprise you—and will hopefully inspire you to unload some unconstructive burdens from your own plate.
I broke up with my position.
“As a football player, I’d always been a quarterback, but going into my senior year at the University of Oklahoma, another player was chosen as the starter. My top priority is helping the team, and I knew it was unlikely that I would be drafted as an NFL quarterback. So instead, I switched positions to tight end. Not only did this help my team succeed, it also taught me new skills and prepared my body for a more physical position. After that season, I was drafted as tight end by the San Francisco 49ers last year. If it hadn’t been for my willingness to adapt and help my team, I might not be in the NFL at all.”
Tight end for San Francisco 49ers
San Francisco, CA
I broke up with strict diets and workouts.
"I decided to stop focusing on all the 'shoulds' and do things that brought me joy. I eat delicious and healthy food because it makes me feel good...not to just follow a restrictive diet. And yes, sometimes I drink a beer and have some ice cream. Overall, I eat pretty healthy and always feel amazing when I eat well. I also broke up with following a strict exercise routine. Don't get me wrong, I love my workouts—in fact, they keep me sane. But I relaxed about the workouts themselves, and just focus on making myself and my body feel good. Some days I take an intense SoulCycle class, other days it's weight lifting, a Shred class, rolling out my mat and doing yoga, cranking up music and dancing in my apartment or simply taking a long walk with a friend. I know that when I move my body, I feel better. In making all of these changes, I've actually lost weight (physically and emotionally) and feel great. I eat better, feel healthy and vibrant and live a life full of joy."
Katie Henry PT, DPT, CIMI
Physical Therapist & Health Coach with Starting Smart, LLC
I broke up with my car.
"When I broke up with my car, I learned a completely new appreciation for walking and its health benefits: mind, body and soul. Some people may scoff at walking, but it’s very peaceful and therapeutic (especially on a nice day). It’s a great way to unplug–throw your phone in your purse, turn it on silent and just enjoy your surroundings. It’s amazing the details you notice when you have the chance to leisurely walk around. If I have a need to travel further than walking distance, I hop on public transportation, which also requires a bit of walking: The nearest stop is several blocks from my home, and it’s rare to find a drop off location directly in front of my destinations. I’m proud to say that on most days I exceed 10,000 steps, and for the last month I’ve been close to six miles of walking each day. I’ve noticed weight loss, too."
Megan Wells, Editor & Writer
San Francisco, CA
I broke up with my personal trainer.
"As a small business owner and an actor in Hollywood, I wanted to get into the best shape possible. I worked with a great private training company for a couple of years, but I had major expenses and couldn't continue. At first I was really disappointed and thought my fitness level would decrease rapidly. I went online and tried to find a trainer on YouTube. At first I thought it was hopeless, but eventually I found a guy who had a cool approach and seemed to be genuine. I started doing his short 10-minute workouts at home in front of my laptop. I also did my own research on my diet and started to trust my own instincts instead of expecting my trainer to provide all of the solutions. Now I'm feeling really good, lost a few more pounds and starting to feel like I'm closer to my goal. Although I'm super grateful to my personal trainers who gave me a background and a well-balanced approach, I'm really happy being able to work out whenever I want and to tailor my program to how I'm feeling and what makes sense for me each day."
Business Owner & Actor
Los Angeles, CA
I broke up with caffeine pills.
"I'm the CEO of a Los Angeles-based company but I am currently living in Israel, so my 'day' starts at 8 p.m. [and goes] until 6 a.m. or so. Because I can't tolerate the acidity of coffee, I decided to take caffeine pills to get the same effect and stay up during these hours. I got a huge boost in creativity and was plowing through work like never before, but after three months of pushing my body at full speed, I was forgetting to eat, and was running on caffeine and not [eating] a healthy diet. My creativity started to suffer. Within days after I stopped taking the pills, I found myself coming up with great ideas to grow the business, was much more relaxed and present while at work and actually started singing in the shower again. It reminded me that growth is not only working fast and long, but also taking a step back and enjoying the process. Now that I'm back to eating better, I have the same (if not more) energy."
Founder and CEO of Yael Consulting
Los Angeles, CA
I broke up with the scale.
“I stopped obsessing over the numbers on the scale and stopped weighing myself every day. I stopped worrying about how I looked and focused on how I felt. That shift in mindset made me feel so much better. In doing so, I also ditched self judgment, resentment, negative self-talk and guilt, and noticed a new surge of energy and positivity. I focused on fueling my body with foods, activities and relationships that made me feel amazing. In making all of these changes, I've actually lost weight (physically and emotionally) and feel phenomenal. I eat better, feel healthy and vibrant, and live a joy-filled life.”
Katie Henry PT, DPT, CIMI
Physical Therapist & Health Coach with Starting Smart, LLC
I broke up with society's idea of the perfect body.
"When I let go of the idea that I had to be a size 10 or smaller to be healthy, I learned that my body, as it is now, is beautiful, strong and resilient. When I let go of the world’s idea of what my body should look like, I found a greater love for myself that allows me to do the things that keep me feeling energized and joyful, without attaching those results to weight loss. I found release from self-hatred and harsh judgments that kept me stuck, struggling to attain something my body isn’t meant to attain. Now, when I work out, it is not for weight loss, it is for health."
Founder and Chief Empowerment Officer of Just Curves
Long Beach, CA
My clients broke up with social media.
"As a psychologist, I have many patients who seek my help when they choose to 'break up' with certain behaviors that are bringing them unhappiness or stress. A common one is breaking up with social media. Social media sites have become a large part of our lives, but often they are a huge source of stress, comparison and feelings of inadequacy. While a lot of my male clients struggle with seeing their friends and family reaching large milestones or business successes, my female clients struggle when seeing a peer looking physically attractive on social media, reaching family or marriage goals or [are] surrounded by a large circle of friends. When all else fails, my clients take a break from social and focus on the successes of their everyday life. This often helps them feel appreciative of their lives and much more focused on living well for themselves rather than comparing their lives to others."
Sanam Hafeez, Psy.D
Founder of Comprehend the Mind Institute of NYC
New York, NY
I broke up with my boyfriend.
"After breaking up with my boyfriend, I learned how to better take care of myself not only emotionally, but also physically. After we broke up, I realized that I was treating him the way I wanted him to treat me, but he was not treating me the same way. Instead, I started treating myself the way I wanted to be treated. I would cook myself healthy dinners with all of my favorite ingredients, buy clothes and accessories that made me feel beautiful and commit more time at the gym, boosting my endorphins and taking care of my body."
Senior Editor & Content Strategist at CIA Medical
I broke up with coffee.
I relied on my relationship with coffee for years, until I finally decided to bite the bullet and call it quits. A cup of coffee certainly has a short-term advantage; a burst of energy to kick-start your day. But after the initial enjoyment comes the roller coaster of energy, exhaustion, enthusiasm and irritability. I would ride this roller coaster on a daily basis, [and it affected] my work output, awareness and interpersonal relationships later in the afternoon when I was coming down from the caffeine buzz. At night, I would have a hard time going to sleep and would often wake in the middle of the night. So I quit cold turkey. How do I feel? Better than ever. My energy levels are consistent from the moment I wake up until the moment I go to sleep. No lulls, no peaks, just steady and linear. While much focus is dedicated to our bodies, both functional and aesthetic, there is nothing more valuable than a highly functioning mind. Breaking up with coffee has given me that once again."
Founder & CEO of Beatactive
Los Angeles, CA
I broke up with my Apple watch.
"When I used the watch for fitness purposes, I found that it was pressuring me too much and not letting me work at my own pace. After I stopped using it and started using my own common sense instead, I achieved better results."
Founder & CEO of Luxe Translation Services
Beverly Hills, CA
I broke up with eating breakfast in the car.
"I thought it was saving time, but it just made my morning feel more hectic. When I stopped, I found that I could reach a state of feeling relaxed during the day easier and more often, plus my resting heart rate went down."
Dr. Aaron Rossi
I broke up with my gym.
“After being on a health and fitness journey for two years and losing 40 pounds, I decided to leave my gym. For two years, I'd been pushing to get to the next level, mostly with weightlifting and cardio. I had dropped 40 pounds and four dress sizes, and while I was happy where I was, I wanted to be better—until the fall of 2015, when I felt my intuition telling me I needed to stop and slow down. So I left the gym, but continued to be active at home, taking the kids on walks [and] hikes and occasionally doing yoga or functional strength training [for myself]. But I stopped forcing myself [and] stopped feeling guilty for skipped workouts.
Two things resulted in [my] leaving the gym:
1. I learned to trust my intuition. Our bodies know exactly what we need, but we don't always listen. As I started to slow down, stopped pushing and let myself be where I was, I was able to uncover some emotional traumas I had been hiding. I also learned how to go after what I want, but to also schedule downtime so I can tune into myself. As a result, my mental game is stronger than ever.
2. I learned to let go of control. My whole life, I have always been the go-getter, always going for the next thing and not stopping until I get it. I also have a hard time letting others take control, because I know I can get the job done better and faster. By leaving the gym, I stopped focusing so much on the scale, my measurements and body fat. I tuned into how I wanted to feel on the inside and stopped associating my worth with number on the scale."
Health and Wellness Coach
I broke up with self-doubt.
I had lived my life consumed by doubt, and was unhealthy in every sense of the word. I was overweight, in a bad relationship, financially insecure [and] in a job that I hated. Self-doubt was a prison I built for myself. I was convinced that I couldn't or shouldn't do just about anything. I didn't think I was smart enough to go back to school, I didn't think I was capable of attracting a healthy person for a romantic relationship. Once I learned to not accept my own first response to anything, I chose to say ‘YES.’ Yes, I want to go to that concert. Yes, I want to do 10 more. Yes, I want to go Austria. Yes, I want to go back to school. Yes, I want to volunteer to feed the homeless. Yes, I want to help you move. Fast forward 10 years. I graduated Summa Cum Laude, as valedictorian of my class. I started my own [successful] business. I am in a loving and supporting relationship. I have achieved health goals that I never thought I could. Loving my life is the ultimate testament of feeling my best. Self-doubt comes back every once in awhile, but I no longer confuse it with who I am or what I actually believe about myself or my life. I am free."
Kendra Davies, PPC
Founder of Stellar Life Coaching
What did you break up with to achieve a healthier, happier life?