So many people fall off the diet wagon and give up completely.
Think about the first time you were faced with the "Game Over" screen. Did you rage quit and never pick up the controller again? If you're like me, you said to yourself, "Ef this, I'm gonna win this thing!" Then you restarted the level. So why should your diet be any different? Sure, "losing" at your diet can be just so damn DELICIOUS whereas losing in a video game results in rage mode, but in the end it's all the same. You set a goal. You worked hard at it and you fell short. It doesn't mean the goal goes away. It's still there waiting for you. All you have to do is press reset.
For some reason that "reset button" is really hard to push when it comes to diets. Everything is a choice and the more you practice moving back and forth between planned indulgence and healthy choices, the easier it is to return to your diet. Getting back on track is a mental muscle and it's just as important as any that you'll flex in the gym.
So many people tell me they're "all or nothing," and I definitely struggled with that for a long time. I was either 100% perfect or I utterly fell apart and just destroyed myself with bad choices. It's impossible to keep the "all or nothing" attitude up forever. It's time to accept your humanity.
Newsflash: YOU ARE IMPERFECT. Le gasp!
At some point you're going to slip or just really want a cupcake. It all comes down to a choice. How you handle what follows that choice that will determine how successful you are with your weight loss.
So, what I've decided to do is give you my ten tips for getting back on track with your diet. Hopefully this will make that reset button a little easier to push.
- Assess: Why did you choose to slip? Were you putting too much pressure on yourself? Are there emotional stress factors that are overwhelming you? If you can target the "why," you'll be able to heal whatever is really ailing you. If you don't take time to do this step, then you're shooting yourself in the foot. Cheating on a diet can be symptom of other things that you need to confront and heal in your life so look at it as an opportunity get healthy in other ways.
- Forgive Yourself: Once you've put your finger on the source of your slip and you've thought about it and how you can improve whatever is ailing you, forgive yourself. If you keep beating yourself up, you're just putting MORE pressure on the situation- pressure that could lead you down the road to other bad decisions. Rest in the knowledge that you've done right by yourself in the "Assess" phase and start putting one foot in front of the other again.
- Decide: This sounds silly, but you have to DECIDE to get back on track. You can sit around and say "I should do more to fix my health issues" all day long. I gotta tell you, it's not the same as DOING something about it. What day are you re-starting the level? What hour? Right now? Good! Now go! Stop putting it off and making excuses! That is a long slippery slope and do you want to know the worst part? You're smart, so you'll watch yourself making excuses and start hating yourself even more for lying to yourself. What are you waiting for, Player 1? PRESS START!
- Purge: You've been relaxing. Eating whatever. I'm willing to bet there are half eaten bags of candy by the couch and leftover pizza in the fridge. Cookies in the jar? Do whatever you have to do to get rid of that stuff. I'd say toss it, but if you eat it, you eat it. Invite someone over for a leftover party. Give it to your room mate. Just get it gone and don't buy more.
- Create A Comfortable Environment: Environment is everything for me. If I'm trying to get back on track and I walk into a house littered with the refuse of my bad behavior, I have a much harder time readopting better habits. After you've purged the house of any leftover bad food, create the best possible environment for your success. Clean your room, wash the dishes in the kitchen. Do you have all the pots and pans you need for cooking? Does your scale have batteries in it? Are your running clothes season-appropriate?
- Find Other Indulgences: Even if you create the perfect environment for success, you'll still get cravings. They don't just go away. Find stuff other than food that makes you happy. Is there a new video game coming out that you're dying to sink your teeth into? A book you've been waiting to read? A spa treatment that's absolutely to die for? Every time you want all the cupcakes in the land, start doing one of those other things. Nine times out of ten, they'll distract you enough that you'll forget all about what you were craving.
- Grocery Shopping: You've purged your house of bad foods, now its time to fill your coffers with delicious healthy food. Make sure you have everything you need to cook food for yourself for the next week. When I already have fresh fruits, veggies, plus a list of healthy recipes I want to try and all their ingredients all at my finger tips, I'm way less tempted to run to the corner for Pad Thai. If you're looking for great healthy recipes that you can make easily, quickly and on a budget, I refer you to this Nerd Fitness article written by my Paleo cooking guru, Catspaw.
- Track Everything: Get back on the scale. Take your measurements. Track your calories or keep a food journal. Make sure you're getting at least 64 oz of water a day. Just stay accountable. When I fall of the wagon I go off the grid. It's fine, but when it's over it's over. I need to start seeing what I'm eating or I'll go wild and pretend it's not happening. Seeing your choices can be as encouraging as it can be chastening. When you look at your week and see you've kept completely Paleo for four days without realizing it, you'll be so proud of yourself for making all those good choices!
- One Week Cleanse: Once you have your diet plan in place and you've prepped your home and your kitchen, it's time to stick to it completely for one week. This is more of a mental cleanse than a physical one, but the idea is to make good choices for a full week after whatever slip you may have had. This is to prove to yourself that, well, that's all it was, "just a slip." It wasn't a derailment. You're still plowing ahead and committed. How do you know? Cause you've been back at it for a week! Good for you! I'd throw confetti if I could. How about another week? Challenge accepted.
- Recommit to Your Exercise Plan: Diet is only part of health equation. When I eat like crap, it makes me feel lazy and going to the gym seems super lame. I swear it's like magic- or science even! Make sure you get back out there during that one week cleanse period. Don't worry if you've backslid with your fitness, just get yourself back in the habit of going. The rest will follow.
Ah, there it is, the reset button.
Now press start!