Feeling Off Track? Stop Digging and Do This

Feeling Off Track? Stop Digging and Do This

Have you ever found yourself feeling totally off track with your eating habits and exercise?

How about a time when things fall into place and life just works, have you been there?

For the longest time I used to flop back and forth between the two. I’d be cruising along just fine and before I knew it, I’d be eating poorly, skipping workouts and generally feeling blue.

What was alarming to me was,

  1. Just how quickly it could happen, and,
  2. How, when my health and fitness was off track, everything would seem glum.

Not only that, I’d keep making poor choices!

It’s like I’d found myself in a hole and just kept digging and digging and digging.


I’d stop.

I’d reach the point of enough is enough and decide I wanted out of the hole. Fast.

Invariably, this would lead to some crazy scheme involving a strict diet, a new training programme and some arbitrary deadline.

It’s the classic 30-day diet / 6-week detox / 12-week body transformation that the fitness industry loves to sell us. There are countless to choose from. And I was a sucker.

When you’re in a hole, something extreme always seems to be the answer.

Eventually, I found a better way.

Dig Smaller Holes

It’s normal to go through periods when the health & fitness stuff gets hard.

Life throws us a challenge. We’re busy. We fall into convenient / comfort / emotional eating. Workouts get skipped. We’re tired out. We lose motivation. We lose hope.

The hole we dig for ourselves gets bigger and bigger… until finally we stop and decide to do something about it. To get back on track.

My impression is that almost everyone goes through this.

But it seems like some people stop digging much sooner than others.

For some, a couple of missed workouts or few extra kilos on the scales quickly sets off the alarm bells. For others, it takes years of inactivity and a few extra stones on the scales before they stop digging and start looking for solutions. Sometimes it even takes a serious health scare.

What’s the difference?

I don’t know.

But here’s an interesting thought: When you get into these darker places, sooner or later you WILL stop and look to turn it around.

How big a hole do you want to dig for yourself before you stop?

What could you do to stop digging sooner?

After all, the smaller the hole the easier it is to climb out of.

The answer is not to never dig holes for ourselves, but to dig smaller holes.

That takes:

  1. Mindfulness. You need to recognise when you’re digging a hole for yourself.
  2. Acceptance. It’s normal. Life is hard sometimes and you don’t need to be happy and perfect and positive all the time. It’s ok.

Use a WLWL

Rather than attempt to get back on track via a mad scheme, I’ve learned to use a WLWL.

A WLWL is a When Life Works List.

(I borrowed the term from a former mentor of mine, Todd Durkin, who borrowed it from Sean Stephenson.)

It’s very simple. Think of a time when life worked. When you felt on top of things. When you felt good about your health and fitness. What were the top 3-5 simple things that you were doing consistently?

  • Was it doing the food shop?
  • Planning / prepping meals in advance?
  • Having a set bedtime / wake time?
  • Going for a daily walk?
  • A particular workout schedule?
  • Was it keeping in regular touch with friends?
  • Was it something totally unrelated that works for you?

With time, I realised that whenever I found myself in a hole, I “coincidentally” was no longer doing my best practices, my WLWL.

The solution, then, rather than juicing or fasting or some 10-week programme, was to simply return to what worked for me:

Going to my bed on time.
Reading in bed (rather than being on my phone).
Showing up for my workout (even if just to go through the motions).
Getting my steps in.

It’s not sexy and it’s not fast. But there’s a lot less angst. Even better, by repeatedly returning to the basics – my basics – I found myself in a lot fewer holes. Or in other words: it became much easier to stay on track!

So, over to you…

What’s on your WLWL?


Always Keep Reaching!


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