The Tomorrow Trap: “I'll Start Tomorrow,” But Will You?
Most people are guilty of “the tomorrow trap. “Tomorrow, I will eat healthier,” or “Tomorrow I will begin my weight loss program.” The reasons we do this are numerous. We believe tomorrow will be easier, or we may even take credit for the diet we will start tomorrow and use it as an excuse to make poor choices today.
But it doesn’t have to be like that. Here are some general excuses in the tomorrow trap, and how you can overcome them and start today.
Time for Fitness
This is a common barrier and often stops many people before they even begin. Workouts are put off until one feels they have more time to exercise. Healthy eating and weight loss are put on hold because it takes too much time to buy the food and prepare meals; especially if you’ve been used to eating fast foods ad part of your daily diet plan.
But there really is more time than you think, and you really can start today on your path to weight loss, eating healthy or any fitness goal you desire.
· First, decide on the day you will begin and write it down with the date, time and action. Do not let yourself sabotage your future for a few extra minutes of sleeping or eating or whatever is holding you back.
· Get up 30 minutes earlier and work out. Go for a walk around your block, work out to a 20-minute workout at home or go to the gym before work. It might not be that much fun, at first, but once it becomes a habit, it becomes easier.
The best part about this is that you feel great for the rest of the day! Those who exercise report better-coping skills and lower stress levels. This may be because when you exercise, it releases brain chemicals that are associated with well being and a better mood. And this benefit lasts throughout the day.
· Exercise after work. If getting up early just isn’t your thing, make time to exercise after work. Trade in the after-work cocktail for workout time or eat a light dinner and make the gym or the track part of your evening plans instead of video games or movies.
No matter how you fit exercise in, you’ll feel better for it.
· Plan your meals. When it comes to a healthy eating plan, it’s just a matter of changing habits. Planning meals ahead of time saves a lot of time. Preparing lunch in the evening and grabbing it in the morning will definitely save you time from the drive-through.
The adjustment is making time to plan your menus and shop, but this gets easier with practice. And when you get used to eating healthy foods, you won’t believe you even liked fast food in the past.
Too Tired to Exercise
Many people are too tired or fatigued to make exercise and often believe tomorrow will be better. Fatigue is often a sign of stress, which can sap any energy needed to get through the day. But exercise helps you cope with stress and balances many of your body functions, thus creating more energy than you expend.
· Start small. You don’t have to incorporate a full week of strength training and cardio when you first begin. Start with 30 minutes, three times each week to reach the minimum recommended exercise time. If 30 minutes is overwhelming, try six days of 15 minutes for each exercise session.
With such short sessions, you know it will be over quickly. Yes.Fit has some short races that you can do little by little at your own pace in as many workouts it takes to complete the challenge.
· Keep your workout stress-free, especially when your first begin. You don’t have to go all out when you begin, start with a less intensive exercise routine and gradually build up your intensity each week when you feel ready.
As you continue to exercise, your body will adapt, and you will naturally feel inclined to work out harder as your energy increases.
· Eat healthily. Fast food, junk food, and sugary treats are energy robbers. But healthy fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and proteins have an energizing effect on the body, giving you more energy for all activities.
Exercise is Boring
This is a common excuse as many people feel there are better things to do. But the modern world is filled with ways to make any workout exciting or at least interesting. From treadmills with televisions to online personas that motivate you to move, there are many tools available to help take the boring out of the exercise.
Here are some of those:
· Make it fun. Take a Zumba or dance class for exercise. As you continue to go to the class, you get better at it and it will become more fun. You might also meet others that you enjoy seeing a couple of times a week. You can join the Yes.it Moves challenge. Other ideas are to listen to music, watch a funny movie, or enjoy an educational show on your phone or built-in tv of a treadmill or elliptical machine while you exercise.
This can take your mind off the workout if you find it boring. And who knows, you might learn a new skill!
· Change it up. Don’t do the same workout over and over, or you will surely get bored. Try one routine that includes running a few times a week, then change to swimming or cycling.
There are many ways to change your routine weekly and even daily, which also allows you to target different muscles, so your entire body gets conditioned and fit.
· Try new sports. This may vary with location, but classes and sports can help keep exercise interesting. Reach your fitness or weight loss goals with cross country skiing, learn to snowboard, or snowshoe if you live in a cold-weather climate. If you are in warmer weather, try paddle boarding or a run through a park.
· Join a race. This does not mean you need to do a 5k or 10k race. There are shorter races and charity runs in which many people walk or go at their own pace. These are a motivating way to exercise and give back to your community at the same time.
Yes.Fit virtual races are a great way to make your fitness routine fun again and you can earn awesome rewards.
I’ll Eat Healthier Tomorrow...
Of course, we have more willpower tomorrow than today; sadly, tomorrow never arrives. We will have the same struggles tomorrow that we have today. The worst part is that those who resolve to begin tomorrow use that as an excuse to make poor food choices today.
This is a common trap, so if you are guilty of this one, you’re not alone. Here are some tips that may help.
· Write out your food plan for a week and go shopping now. Planning and goal setting are tried and true traditions for those who want to better themselves because it works. The technique can easily be used for healthy eating. Begin by getting rid of junk foods in your home that may tempt you. Then figure out your favorite dishes and look online for healthier versions.
Some recipes may swap mayonnaise for yogurt, or use a low carb bread. You made a commitment to begin, so make it doable by beginning with recipes you are more likely to stick with.
· Focus on your future self. Not only will that increase your self-esteem, but can help you reach your fitness goals quicker. One study published in the International Journal of Obesity showed that participants who visualized their “new” physique lost five times more weight than those who did not use visualization.
(1) And what’s truly fascinating is that the participants were given no diet or exercise education or advice, so this really demonstrates the power of the mind! Researchers believe since the imagination sees the future self during visualization, the brain realizes the goal is possible, so naturally begins making healthier food and exercise choices. This exercise can be done right now, as soon as you finish reading this.
Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today. Beginning a fitness journey can begin now, but only if you can get past the tomorrow trap and do whatever you need to, to start today.
If you make small changes and do them consistently every day, you will make progress even in just a week.
1 Solbrig, L., Whalley, B., Kavanagh, D.J. et al. Functional imagery training versus motivational interviewing for weight loss: a randomized controlled trial of brief individual interventions for overweight and obesity. Int J Obes 43, 883–894 (2019) doi:10.1038/s41366-018-0122-1