How to Easily Get Back on Track

You vowed to stay organized, hit the gym every day, eat well, and get a decent amount of sleep. But January 1st is just a distant memory and now the reality of life has set in. Rushed mornings leave no time for a workout, and late afternoon meetings mean you're strolling into the kitchen to make dinner well after dark. And forget about getting 8 hours sleep. Five is more the norm these days.

Don't sweat it, we've all been there.

It can feel like a big hit to the progress you're making with those New Year's goals but I promise you, there's real power in recognizing when things are off track and quickly course-correcting. The alternative is to wallow in your disappointment but honestly, we both know that won't get you anywhere.

So buckle up! It's time to lay out how to get your health, fitness, sleep, or literally anything else you can think of, back on track.

Here we go:

First and foremost let's get your head in the game. So any guilt, shame, or embarrassment about how things have slipped needs to be left behind. If you enjoy symbolism, try this. Write down all the garbage thoughts you have about the seeming lack of progress and then shred that bad boy. Or burn it. Or use it to prop up the wonky coffee table in the living room. If you choose to carry those thoughts forward, you're doing yourself a huge disservice. Start fresh just like you did on New Year's Eve and do so with the excitement and expectations of a fresh goal.

Next, grab a piece of paper. Jot down the wake up time that makes sense for you the majority of the week. So if you work Monday to Friday and need to be up at 6am, congratulations! Six is your new wake up time EVERY day. As a peace-offering, you can swing that time by up to one hour (but no more), although you truly won't need it once you've given it a week or so to sink in. But alas, I'm getting ahead of myself now. Ok, just write down your wake up time. This time should give you enough breathing room to have breakfast or hit the gym before work, or do whatever else you want to fit into the morning hours. In other words, be realistic about this wake up time. There's no way you'll fit in a workout if you start work at 9, commute for 30 mins, take an hour to get showered and dressed, but set your alarm for 7:30. The wake up time is the MOST. IMPORTANT. PART.

Note: You can use a regular 'ol piece of paper or something like this (above). If you'd like to download a blank copy, click here.

Now, let's work backwards. You're ready to figure out what time you need to go to sleep to give you a full 8 hours before the alarm sounds. If you're waking up at 6, that means bedtime is 10. Write it down.

We're making progress here, trust me. Again working backwards, identify the time of day that's 3 hours before your bedtime. That, my friend, is the time your last food or drink item should hit your lips (water is the exception). If any of your goals are geared towards weight loss, improved health, higher productivity, or better sleep, THIS is the secret sauce. Ideally there would be no more than 12 hours between your first bite of breakfast (or sip of coffee) and your last bite of the day. So use the 3-hours prior to bedtime as a start and aim for a 12-hour eating window. Our bodies need time to heal and recover overnight but too often they're so busy digesting the snacks and glass of wine that went down right before bed that those essential repairs never happen. I've said this before and I'll say it again, try driving your car everyday and never taking it in for an oil change or servicing. That's what's happening every single night when we snack within 3 hours of sleeping and don't allow a 12-ish hour window of non-eating for our bodies to receive servicing.

Set reminders in your phone. We all check our phones throughout the day, so let's use them for good instead of evil and take advantage of the reminder/alarm function. It's helpful to know when you're 30 minutes before your end of day food cut-off time but try not to use that as a "last supper" situation. Tomorrow is another day and unless you're severely underweight, you're not likely to starve between now and breakfast. Commit to one week of the newly established wake up time and last meal of the day cut off.

If you need an accountability partner, look no further. I will gladly cheer you on, nudge you in the right direction, and call you out lovingly. All in the name of helping you stay committed. Tag me (@artfulsleep) in your morning post on FB or IG, and let me know how this technique is workin for ya.

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