The biggest obstacle for most people starting a new 'diet' or making lifestyle changes? The 'all or nothing' way of thinking.
You're probably guilty of it.
You start a new way of eating (whatever it is) and you have the high hopes that this is going to be it! You spend 3 or 4 days eating really well and completely avoiding any and all 'bad for you' foods (and you feel really good about yourself)! But 3 days is only 3 days, and it's really not long enough to expect to see some movement on the scale. Totally fine you tell yourself-'I'll just keep going' (but you're secretly disappointed).
So then it gets hard, because you have real life to live, and real life is unpredictable. Let's say on day 4 of the 'new you' you oversleep. You're super late so you don't have time to whip up that beautiful looking green smoothie. Instead you grab an Egg McMuffin on the way to work (and totally beat yourself up over it while enjoying the hell out of every last bite). You didn't pack a lunch either (damn the alarm not going off), and since you already had that fast food breakfast, you figure you blew your diet anyway and have a cheeseburger instead of making a better choice, like you would have without that breakfast 'slip'.
By dinner you're feeling like crap (your blood sugar is way out of whack due to all the processed food) and having a pity party because you ruined the last 4 days of dieting so you eat 2 bowls of spaghetti and finish a bottle of wine.
Sound familiar? This used to be me ALL THE TIME and there's a couple of things wrong with this.
First of all it's the quick fix idea. It's taken you how many years to end up at this point? Is it really realistic to think you can turn it all around in just a week or two? Of course it's not! But that's tied into me second point-it's HARD and really draining relying on willpower to completely change your way of eating overnight (especially if you haven't seen results from all that hard work). You only have so much mental reserve, and the minute you have to move the focus away from dieting, willpower goes out the window. So you eat something you aren't supposed to.
So far what I just described is a given and honestly not a diet ruiner. If you go on a diet YOU ARE GOING TO CHEAT. That's okay though, as long as you listen very carefully to the next part. Ready?
You need to treat every eating decision as a single moment in time.
What does that mean? It means that going off of a diet is a slippery slope. You make one 'bad' decision and then you start rationalizing the next one. It goes something like this:
"Well-I had that Egg McMuffin for breakfast so I might as well just eat whatever today since I'm off my diet anyway. Actually, I have that work dinner out tomorrow night and then it's the weekend so I might as well just take a few days off completely and start up again Monday".
Diets are not ruined by a slice of pizza, or an Egg McMuffin, or a work dinner. Diets are ruined because of an Egg McMuffin for breakfast, a slice of pizza for lunch, 3 glasses of wine at dinner, Eggs Benedict for brunch the next morning, movie popcorn the next afternoon (with a large Diet Coke) and so on.
Do you get what I'm saying? Each of the meals I just described is TOTALLY FINE on it's own. Any one of those foods is not going to single handedly destroy your attempts to become healthier. But we do this thing where we bounce from crazy willpower and NO TREATS to no willpower whatsoever and all treats. The all or nothing mentality.
This is the big problem I have with dieting in general, and it's why statistics tell me you're probably going to fail if you do go on a diet come January (sorry-#coldhardtruth).
But wait-don't despair quite yet. There is another way. I call it the 'single moment in time approach' and it goes hand in hand with the '80/20' approach you may have heard of.
Instead of a diet with allowed foods and not allowed foods, what if you just start making healthier choices in general? Treat each meal, each snack as a single moment in time. If you make a not-so-healthy choice it's no big deal. It's not cheating. It's a single moment in time and not an excuse to give up and go binge for 4 days. Remember: you can't kill forward momentum with a single meal or snack. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and get right back on that horse.
Know that you need treats. You need some of those bad for you foods in your life. I wouldn't survive without my wine and chocolate (but I could care less about fast food). Maybe you're the opposite.
Whatever it is, don't deny yourself something you love. Tell yourself you can have it when you really want it. Then turn your attention to making the healthy choices in between. Think of each meal, each snack as a single moment in time.
Pretty soon you don't NEED willpower. You're getting what you want when you really want it (and not using that as an excuse for a junk food pity party the next day).
You'll start to notice some changes and then you're even more motivated because you're seeing results. The junk food will be less appealing.
This is how little changes snowball into big changes. Not by dieting, but my single, individual decisions to make better choices (and the ability to pick right back up where you left off when you don't make those choices).
In short-don't diet come January when you decide you're going to prioritize your health. Start making healthier choices. Let things happen from there. If you genuinely don't know what choices to make, call someone like me or start Googling.
Hope that helps!
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