Walking Guide

3 Ways to Get Back on Track During an Off Day

By , Haley Perlus, Ph.D.
We’ve all been there. We had a few fabulous days of eating healthy and exercising and then—BANG—all of a sudden life happens. A late night out with friends, a last-minute business trip, a sick child at home. You’ve either missed your designated time for fitness or you simply don’t have the energy to prepare a healthy meal. Either way, you’ve hit a wall and are having an off day. Sometimes it can take several days before you find yourself inspired enough to give your nutrition and exercise program another shot. It’s the vicious cycle of yo-yo dieting at its best, but it can be stopped.
As an expert of sport and exercise psychology, one of my objectives is to help my clients work through the off days we all inevitably experience from time to time. Here are three techniques you can use right now to not only get switched back on during an off day, but also to limit the amount of off days you have altogether. The end result is that you’ll give yourself the greatest opportunity to follow through on your daily goals and achieve your personal best mind, body and overall spirit. 
1. Undervalue the bad days and overvalue the good ones. Many people have been conditioned to harp on their mistakes while quickly moving forward from their successes. Consequently, this way of thinking and behaving robs them of the opportunity to develop maximum confidence—a cornerstone of a healthy lifestyle.

In sports, professional athletes and coaches will often say that the person who wins is usually the person who can best recover from errors. Top athletes have learned to identify their mistakes, but instead of dwelling there, they quickly learn from them and move on. They also take the time to pat themselves on the back for all of their achievements.
It’s okay to strive for perfection, but as soon as you start demanding it, you are setting yourself up for disappointment. When life gets in the way of following your diet and fitness plan to a ''T,'' take five minutes for personal reflection. Remind yourself that it’s OK if things don’t go 100 percent according to plan. It's helpful to identify the things you could better control for next time, but then quickly move on and focus on at least one achievement you have already made that day (or yesterday if it’s first thing in the morning). Taking your focus away from the negative and toward your personal strengths and accomplishments will create a boost of positive energy for finishing the day with a success.

2. Change your environment. When people have an off day, they are experiencing a reduced level of motivation for healthy living. Fortunately, there is an easy fix for this problem; research continues to prove that motivation and productivity increases when our environment changes. In fact, a commonly-used phrase in sports psychology is, ''A change is as good as a rest.''

Any type of change, such as stepping outside for some fresh air, turning on motivational music, finding a new healthy recipe, or getting off the treadmill and onto the elliptical can generate fresh motivation to help you stay on track with your diet and fitness plan. Whenever you feel a lack of motivation for your healthy lifestyle, change up at least one aspect of your environment and experience what it’s like to have your batteries recharged and motivation restored!

3. Just move. Sometimes the hardest thing to do is get off the couch and just start to move. However, once you start moving and the dopamine kicks in, you’ll find it much easier to keep going. During off days, it’s less important to stick to the pre-planned exercises or routine and more important to just get up and do something. If you really don’t feel like lifting weights, get outside and go for a walk. If you don’t feel like spending 20 minutes in the kitchen preparing a healthy meal, choose something simple to eat (that’s still healthy).
The next time you experience an off day, challenge yourself to commit 5-10 minutes to taking action on one of the three techniques above. Once you start moving, you’ll experience an amazing shift in energy, focus, confidence, and overall commitment to your healthy lifestyle.

With a Ph.D. in sport and exercise psychology, Haley Perlus is a professor, published author, international speaker and peak performance consultant. For more free tips, go to

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KATHYJO56 10/6/2018
great article Report
KACEYSW 10/2/2018
Short and to the point! I like it! Report
ILOVEROSES 9/29/2018
Great advice Report
MARYGOLD5 9/28/2018
Good article. Report
PLCHAPPELL 9/28/2018
We tend to be very critical of ourselves. Report
MOONDRAGON29 8/19/2018
great article Report
Good advice. Report
ROBBIEY 7/28/2018
Good tips Report
KMF2018 7/23/2018
Reflecting on what I did right and what I did wrong is always helpful, plus just the simple action of GETTING UP AND MOVING is always a great way to reset an off day! Report
EO4WELLNESS 6/26/2018
Going for a nice, slow, long walk is nice. Report
JVANAM 4/28/2018
A warrior who had more than he needed would make a feast. He went around and invited the old and needy. Black Elk (Ogala Lakota) 4/28/18 Report
Doing what I can. Each day will get easier. Report
RD03875 1/30/2018
Thanks for the reminder Report
MBPP50 1/30/2018
Awesome! Thanks Report
Good ideas Report
ROCKS8ROX 12/24/2017
Thank you! Report
GEMINICHIK 10/27/2017
With the help of my Smart Watch I am reminded to get moving every hour. I learned long ago not to stress over what I cannot control, it took awhile. Unnecessary stress is harmful to every aspect of life. Report
great ideas Report
Love sought is good,
but given unsought is better.
- William Shakespeare Report
Great ideas- thanks. Report
Thanks for sharing. Report
Thanks for the great ideas Report
I'm learning on my days that I am least active I try to reserve extra calories without eating unnecessary calories. On the days I feel victorious I may overindulge but I try my hardest to value EVERYDAY! You should too. Report
good points Report
I expect everyone can have a bad day once in a while, I don't worry about a off day occasionally, things happen, it is only a problem when it gets to be several in a row. Report
Like the Andrews Sisters sang, "Accentuate the positive.." Report
Getting back on track today! Report
Thanks for sharing! I try to move as much as I can.. Report
I like the third one. Just get up and move! Report
i am working to get back into the groove of working out everyday. i can tell the difference in my legs and lack of strength. Report
Great ideas. Thanks Report
For me whenever I feel weak & tired I just try & do some kind of activities that will give me strength again. Either cleaning the house or just move by walking or do some kind of chores. Report
All three are great. The third has really worked for me. Report
All three suggestions are fabulous! However, the first one definitely rings true with me. I have been told that I often compare the worst of me to the best of everyone else. I do this; I admit. Changing the way I think about "bad" days (and myself) is key to moving forward in a steady manner! Love the article! Thank you. Report
Great ideas. Easy to do too. Report
Great ideas here. I especially like the idea of undervaluing the bad days and overvaluing the good ones. That's something I need to work on. Report
All good pieces of advice. We just have to utilize. Report
Fabulous short article that I used today to motivate our 5% Shooting Star team! Thanks so much! Report
Great article. I needed this! :D Thanks!! Report
If only reading about something would make it so.......... Report
The holidays are over. The resolution to get back on track and motivation is high. The problem is being at home. The weather is getting colder, and I crave sugar more than ever.This is the hardest obstacle. I am on track right up until Christmas, and then the brick wall. Any suggestions? Report
A very much needed article, thank you. The holidays, though they're supposed to be a happy time, are not for me for various reasons. One is the food! I love to cook, but the holidays brings out more "junk" food, and I don't need that. And it's hard to convey the fact to the rest of the family. Make them happy, or make them suffer with me? It's not an easy choice. Report
It's a very good article. It's good to know I don't have to beat myself up if I'm
having a bad day. I beat myself up so bad that I give up. Report
I suffer with depression and it makes it difficult some days to do with what I need to do Report
I really needed this article today. Thanks! Report
Wonderful! Speaking from experience the "get up and move" is probably the one that works best for me. #1 reminds me of a spark quote "Persistence rather than perfection"
Keep on keeping on works. Report
thank you. This was exactly what I needed to hear! Report
Thank you all for sharing, my personal problem is procrastination, But the excuses stop today I have to get my joy back, and my sexy back, so that I can be the best me mind ,body, and soul!! May God bless us all! Report
When I am feeling really low and as though any movement is nearly impossible, I force myself to do a ten minute walking workout indoors. There are lots of these online that you can stream. It's easy -- and since it's only ten minutes, I can face it even when I am depressed. I always feel better afterwards, and often feel like moving on to a few minutes of light weights and then a stretch. Before I know it, I've done a small workout and my mood is much better. Report
Walking Guide