We all fall off the horse from time to time – it makes us normal. It’s how quickly we get back on that counts.

When we have unrealistic expectations, when we see the first sign of a crack we think it’s game over. My philosophy is progress, not perfection. That means taking mistakes in our stride, learning from them, and never giving up. It also means understanding that it can be difficult to stay motivated. It’s what we do to get back on that horse once we’ve lost our way that matters most.

With that in mind, here are my top tips for quick recovery after a slip-up and how to get back on track.

Bust the all-or-nothing mentality

How often do we start the weekend with a poor food choice or a missed workout and allow it to be an excuse for a lousy weekend? “I’ll just start again on Monday’s’ we tell ourselves. Before we know it, the weekend is over, our fitness motivation has gone out the window and we feel terrible because we’ve undone a week’s hard work in just a couple of days.

Next time you slip up, remember: A bad meal is just that a bad meal

It shouldn’t be the start of an avalanche. A Friday night pizza and beer needn’t become a weekend-long junk food fest. Put it behind you and move on. Doesn’t dwell on what you can’t change.

So, you missed a workout?

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Get that next workout in as quickly as possible. You’ll steer yourself back to where you were going, and the setback will be so minimal you won’t even notice.

Mistakes are for learning

Don’t think of a slip-up as failure. See it as an opportunity to figure out what didn’t work for you this time, and how you could do better next time. If you put off doing your workout until evening and then just couldn’t face it, schedule your workouts for the mornings and make it a priority. Remember that workout motivation won’t always be present, so putting habits in place to fall back on when your motivation has gone out the window is a must. If lack of planning left you with poor choices at meal times, set aside an “hour of powers’ whenever you can to plan, shop for and prepare meals. So you went grocery shopping on an empty stomach and found yourself ripping open a packet of Doritos on the way home? Make your next shopping trip straight after a meal, or order your groceries online and avoid the shops altogether.

Embrace progress, not perfection

The most successful training programs are those designed to fit into your life. A true lifestyle change must be sustainable, so the answer to falling off the horse less often is to be pretty good most of the time. Ensure that there is some structure and accountability to what you do, but that it also realistic and sustainable for you.

Move every day. Eat real food.

When you eat out, make smart choices but don’t restrict yourself from everything. You’ll only end up feeling deprived. Plan ahead whenever possible, and limit alcohol.

Be your own best friend.

If your friend slipped up, you wouldn’t tell them to throw in the towel, would you? You’d pat them on the back, remind them of how far they’d come, and encourage them to keep on going.

If you do fall again get up, dust yourself off and bounce right back into that saddle as quickly as possible.

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Love Sam x

Posted by Sam Wood

Father and husband, on a mission to help people move more, eat better and make a positive change. Sam Wood has over 18 years experience in the health and fitness industry, and is recognised as one of Australia’s leading experts and media commentators. He is also the founder and trainer at Australia’s number one online fitness and nutrition program, and owner of Australia’s largest personal training studio, The Woodshed.