Sometimes we can feel like there’s always something coming up that’s keeping us from moving towards our health and fitness goals.
There are office events.
There are social gatherings.
There are family commitments.
There are vacations.
There are work trips.
There are holidays.
Just when we think we might be able to start focus on our efforts, something else comes up and our efforts to get lean, strong, and healthy get put on the back-burner.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
After all, the point of being healthy is to live our lives, not the other way around.
It can be tough, though, when we feel like we’re spinning our wheels, failing to get any traction with the habits that are supposed to help us lose fat, build strength, and feel awesome.
We feel like we’re either making zero progress whatsoever, or we’re walking a razor’s edge, barely moving forward at all.
If you find yourself in this situation, it might be time to talk about building in some breathing room.
Breathing room is the concept of accomplishing whatever it is you’re trying to accomplish with room to spare.
Things could have gone wrong or imperfectly, yet you still made it.
You didn’t have to absolutely nail your plan.
When we have breathing room, we’re relaxed, we’re unrushed, we understand that we can absorb a mistake or a change of plans yet still reach our goals.
When we don’t have breathing room, we feel frustrated, stressed out, and might even consider just giving up.
Generally, when it comes making a change to how we look and feel, we can look at our habits in four areas:
- Eating habits
- Stress management
There are other factors that play a role, but these are arguably “the biggies”.
These are the four major dials we can turn to make progress, and the major four tools at our disposal for creating breathing room.
Let’s imagine, for example, that you’ve seen your nutrition as an area where you’re struggling to be consistent.
You’ve got a general idea of what you need to do to look and feel good, but things keep coming up that are keeping you from getting traction.
You’ve got holidays, work events, family gatherings, and social outings, all of which usually entail food and drink aren’t necessarily moving you towards your goals.
You know that you could just be “that guy (or gal)” at these events, and say “no, thank you”, but you’d rather just go with the flow.
One approach is to build some breathing room into the area that you’re struggling with – your nutrition.
If you know that you’re going to be regularly indulging in away that isn’t in alignment with your goals, you might consider building in a bit of breathing room to minimize any negative effects.
Obviously, one option would just be to take it a little easier on these occasions, and not deviate from your habits as much.
Another option would be to look at the days that you aren’t deviating or indulging and really dial those in.
You could even do both – take it a bit easier on those occasions and make sure that your eating habits are on point the rest of the time.
It’s up to you to figure our which of these approaches might work best for you.
Keeping a food log can be especially helpful in this kind of effort, as it helps you get an honest look at what you’re eating and where you might make adjustments.
Another approach for creating some breathing room is to look at all the other habits that contribute to how you look, feel, and perform.
You can look at your sleep.
You can look at your training.
You can look at your stress management.
Each of these is a dial you can turn to move closer to or further away from your goals.
If you already know that you’re not turning the nutrition dial as far as could, or will be dialing it in the other direction every now and again, you can look to these dials to build in some breathing room.
You can make sure that all the other factors – your training, your sleep, your stress management – are taken care of well enough that you can afford to have some deviations in your eating habits every now and again.
Maybe it’s not nutrition that you’re struggling with.
You can look for opportunities to build in some breathing room with the specific habit that you’re struggling with, or you could look to other opportunities for improvement.
Know that your sleep is going to be your weak spot?
Made other commitments that preclude going to the gym?
Trying to manage a lot of stress right now?
In any of these situations, you can take a similar approach to build in some breathing room either in the specific area you’re struggling with, or within another area.
Of course, if you feel that you’re in a spot where you’re nowhere even close to having breathing room, this can seem like a tall order.
You might just be looking for a way to get started making any progress at all.
I get that.
If that’s where you’re at, no sweat.
Take a deep breath, and ask yourself what is one small thing you can start doing today to build in a little bit of breathing room?
What’s one small change you can make?
This will probably necessitate some tradeoffs, as well as some tough decisions.
Could you order something else or go to a different restaurant for lunch?
Could you order a water instead of a soda?
Could you go to the gym instead of the bar?
Could you go to bed instead of watch another episode?
Even seemingly small decisions such as these can be challenging, and may seem trivial, but they add up.
Make a change here.
Make a change there.
Even if making one small change each week, within a month or so you’ll be building some serious momentum.
You’ll have built in enough breathing room to where you’ll be making steady progress, without feeling like you’re struggling so much.
You won’t be able to do everything perfectly all the time, but if you do most things pretty well most of the time, those times that you’re not doing so well won’t matter so much.
Figure out what “breathing room” looks like for you, and start working towards it.
You’ve got this.