The "Pause Button"
That 'Pause' Button.
“I’ll resume healthy eating after my holiday… once the baby is born… after Dad gets out of the hospital… January 1… Monday.” While this kind of “pause-button mentality” seems reasonable, it could be ruining your health and fitness. Here’s why, and what to do about it.
I think it’s normal — even commendable — to want to do your best. To consider taking time to regroup and then resume (or start again) when life feels easier.
At the same time, this completely natural and well-meaning impulse is one of the fastest, surest, most reliable ways to sabotage yourself.
Here’s why — and what to do instead.
It can feel absurd to try to improve your eating and exercise habits while you’re in the midst of chronic stress / looking for a job / starting a new job / going on vacation / caring for ageing parents / raising small children.
That’s probably why there are so many 21-day this and 90-day that. What adult has more than 90 days to go after their fitness goals with an all-out effort?
But what do these intense 'fitness sprints' teach you?
The skill of getting fit within a very short (and completely non-representative) period of your life.
What don’t they teach you?
The skill of getting fit (or staying fit) in the midst of a normal, complicated, “how it really is” sort of life.
This is why the yo-yo diet thing has become such a phenomenon.
You don’t build the ability to get fit under real-life conditions.
That’s why it doesn’t stick. Not because you suck.
But because the natural and predictable consequence of having a limited skill set is short-term progress followed immediately by long-term frustration.
What will be different next time?
If you are someone who’s built their fitness on a house of cards then you only know one thing: How to get in shape by following a very challenging program when the conditions are perfect (for those that have done my bootcamps this is the downside of the program - however, I hope to instil the motivation and skill set during the week too I hope).
And whenever life isn’t perfect, which is most of the time, you hit the pause button. You wait for a better time. (All the while losing the health and fitness you previously worked so hard for.)
So, if you want to pause now and wait for a better time I would ask you this question:
“What will be different when you come back?”
Nine times out of 10, the honest answer is nothing. Nothing will be different.
Life is just…happening. And it’ll happen again in January, or after work has settled , or after your father gets better, or at any other arbitrary point you pick.
And what then?
Let’s accept that life has no pause button.
The key lesson here is that, like it or not, the game of life keeps going.
There is no timeout.
There’s never going to be a moment when things are magically easier.
You can’t escape work, personal, and family demands. Nor can you escape the need for health and fitness in your life.
Here’s a thought:
What if you tried to hit pause in other areas of your life?
Imagine you’re up for a big promotion at work. For the next two weeks, all you want to do is focus on mastering an upcoming presentation, and winning over your boss.
Trouble is, you’ve got two young children at home who tend to demand your full attention.
You say to your spouse, "I’m just gonna press pause on being a parent for now. I’ll be staying at a hotel. Don’t contact me."
I don’t know about you, but that would NOT go well in my head.
You can’t really press pause — and you definitely can’t hit reset — on being a parent. (You’ve thought about it, though. I know you have.)
Just like you can’t stop showing up for work and expect not to get fired. Or “take a break” from being married and not wind up divorced.
Generally, when it comes to life, we know we’re not always going to be on our A Game. Sometimes we’re fantastic. Most of the time we just do our best.
We muddle through. We keep going.
So why do we expect it to be any different with fitness?
Instead of pressing pause, adjust the dial.
Nowadays, I like to think of my fitness efforts as a dial.
There are times when I want to dial my efforts up, and times when I want to dial them down. But I never want to turn the dial off completely.