Sometimes we are totally on point with our food and exercise and feeling like we have accomplished a lifelong goal of being accountable with our health! Those are the best times. Other times it feels like not only did we fall off a very tall wagon, the higher you climb the further you have to fall, but the wagon stopped, backed over you, and then proceeded to run over you again! These are the worst times and can be the hardest to bounce back from.
Personally, I have experience many ups and downs and, at times what feels like, endless fluctuation in weight management. Over the years and through trial and error, here are my 6 tips for helping you stay on track when the worst of times has it out for you.
The best thing about falling off track is that you can always get back on the track! Start thinking about a bad day of eating, not as a ruined diet, but more as an opportunity to quickly get things straight again. I think a lot of times we take the opportunity to continue with our bad food habits when we have had one bad day and decide, “Well, I might as well just have a blow out on junk food since I already ruined it”. Does that sound familiar?
It seems like after mentally deciding that we are ruined regardless of what we do next, then we cheat even harder than we would have had we not been on a “diet” in the first place.
What to do about it:
I think it’s time to start shifting into the notion that you are not on a diet, but rather that you are attempting to eat clean/ healthy/ proportionally/(insert favorite buzz word here), and sometimes that means having the desert that you really want or the meal that you have been looking forward to at your favorite restaurant.
Learn to be accountable for the one mistake you made whether it be a cheat meal or a cheat week, and then get over it and move on to your healthy routine. Also, remember that without finding our extremes, it would be very difficult to find our happy middle ground.
This is a big one. We all find ourselves in a pinch sometimes and the easiest thing to do is go for the fastest and best tasting thing we can find. Or maybe we are busy all day and the idea of cooking is the most daunting challenge you’ve had set in front of you after a crazy work schedule. Either way, convenience food is a slippery slope into whole pizza, extra slice of cake, entire jar of peanut butter land…and we have all been there.
Ways to prevent the convenience curse:
- Keep snacks handy all the time. Protein bars, jerky, protein powder, anything you can think of that will meet some nutritional value and hold you over until you can collect yourself and find a proper meal.
- Get creative. Find a way to use what you have to eat the best you can. If you are stuck in the desert and the only place around serves sloppy joe sandwiches, then ask for no sauce, or eat it without the bread, don’t order a side, or order the coleslaw and eat only half the sloppy joe. There are a million ways to get creative, it just depends on how much you are willing to bend for your nutrition convictions.
- If you plummet and eat your convenience meal, don’t kick yourself after. Just accept it and move on, and then make better decisions for the rest of your day.
- Have someone you can text/ call for support. Put them on standby and let them know they will need to talk you off the food ledge.
Yes, you have heard this one before, but maybe not for this reason. Drinking a ton of water will make you feel full, but that’s not what I’m preaching here. Drink more water when you eat because it actually helps clean you out, yup you read that right. Drinking at least 8oz of water with your meals will help your digestion and clean your palate faster keeping you from craving salty or sweet things after you’ve worked so hard to eat a healthy meal. Getting the taste out of your mouth is a great way to start clean and stop thinking about getting the food taste out of your mouth with a satisfying sweet taste.
Ever notice that when someone mentions they are going to quit anything cold turkey, you start to cringe inside! It’s a scary phrase and one that has an incredibly powerful psychological effect on us. We know it means serious business and that the chance of failure is high, which is also the reason we choose do attempt things cold turkey, because we can’t seem to taper things off slowly, so we go to extremes and try to change all at once.
So let me ask you a questions then. Have you ever known anyone who did something “cold turkey”? If you answered yes, then here’s another questions. Did they succeed with that method?
My guess is that most of you said yes to the first question, then no to the second. So why do we keep putting ourselves through these extreme measures to accomplish things?
Better Ways to reduce cheats:
- Indulge in the small things on occasion and be ok with it. If you want a peanut butter cup after a long hard day and everything else has been on point, for goodness sake, have the damn peanut butter cup. It’s a small price to pay to keep from plunging into a binge fest over the weekend and then really have a reason to need to recover. Think of this as a pre-cheat, or cheat prevention. It’s definitely not worth the mental angst to avoid it. Would you rather have your peanut butter cup and be satisfied or maul the next person who looks at you funny like a starved bear becasue you haven’t tasted sugar way too long?
- If you are dying for a desert, but you don’t want to ruin your newly earned bikini bod, then find something smaller than the triple layer chocolate lava cake, then go with something smaller. How about a chocolate cookie, or even a small brownie. Same great taste in your mount and satisfaction of killing your sweet tooth, but way less calories and way more manageable in the long run.
- Keep your favorite protein bars with you and have half if you need something sweet to munch on.
Basically, it’s better to incorporate small indulgences into your life rather than wait until you’re prepared to eat an entire buffet of deserts or salty snacks. Remember, it’s all about consistency. As long as you are more consistently eating on point, then the small stuff hardly counts.
Don’t stress over the small stuff and remember that you can always start new. Forgive yourself for things you wish you wouldn’t have done and move on. If you do decide to have cheat day, or weekend, or be a little more indulgent on your hard earned vacation, then let yourself be ok with that. Take responsibility for what you put in your body and be conscious of the work you will need to put back into it if you decide to stray from your plan.
Being able to sustain a healthy lifestyle comes with persistent practice and cannot be achieved overnight. Start practicing and remember that progress is better than perfection!