Does this sound familiar?
“I just had a piece of chocolate so today is ruined, I’ll just eat rubbish for the rest of today and start fresh tomorrow… and come to think of it, there is no point going to the gym today now is there?”
Have you ever started a day with the intention of eating well and exercising, working toward your personal goals. Then for whatever reason there is a change of plan—maybe you have a work-morning tea or you forget to bring your lunch and eat a pastry, a handful of chips, or a slice of pizza. All of a sudden you totally forget you had a plan to stick to, and it’s a free-for-all binge of food, drink, and missed gym sessions while you swear to yourself that tomorrow will be different. Sounds fairly logical, I mean, you might as well eat everything … makes sense to me … doesn’t it?
One day when presenting a nutrition seminar with master Pilates instructor, Marina Perry-Kuhn, I heard her describe this common practice a little bit differently. It went like this: “Imagine you are driving along in your car and you have a minor accident, smashing your front headlight. While this is unfortunate and definitely wasn’t part of your plan that day, you don’t then say to yourself, “Well I just smashed up my headlight, I might as well see how many other panels I can damage on my way home, in fact I might just write this baby off!” Would it be fair to say that displaying this type of reasoning would suggest you suffer from severe mental incapacitation? So why then, do so many of us display this exact behavior when it comes to food and exercise?
This is a similar cycle to the person who eats perfectly all week long then binges on all types of unhealthy foods over weekend and struggles to lose or even maintain weight.
I am going to be subtle here: Wake up to yourself! Having a muffin at your work morning tea is not a good reason to skip gym that afternoon and treat yourself to wine and take-out Thai, leaving yourself with feelings of guilt and hopelessness come bedtime. In fact your morning tea slip up should give you all the more reason to get your butt into the gym and work twice as hard!
If you eat something that isn’t a part of your plan relax and put in extra effort at the gym later. (john shepherd/thinkstockphotos.com)
Sabotaging Your Diet
When you have that piece of chocolate or slice of cake your body doesn’t instantly go into “diet sabotage” mode, embarking on a kamikaze mission to seek and destroy each and every high calorie item in your path and then magically reset itself at midnight, allowing you to wake up and stick to your plan again. Your body will actually work against you here in the form of cravings and energy slumps etc. What I am saying is that there is no justifiable physiological reason to give up your plan for that day/week/month. A slip up in your day does not automatically qualify you to restart your diet tomorrow.
When you give in to temptation and have your favorite treat, which we all do, don’t beat yourself up about it, instead enjoy it! Then continue with your plan. Eating rubbish and putting off your “strict diet” to a tomorrow that never comes will result in weight gain and unhappiness. Whereas consistently eating the right foods more often than not will help promote healthy living and weight loss, simple as that! If you can’t exercise for whatever reason, plan a catch up session or work twice as long/hard next time.
Sticking to Your Plan
Sticking to a meal/exercise plan can be hard work, particularly at first, when your mind and body are resisting change. Your mind and body are screaming at you with symptoms ranging from DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness), which is the soreness in your muscles you experience after strenuous exercise, to intense sugar cravings bringing headaches, fatigue, and that unexplainable urge to hold up the nearest gas station in exchange for chocolaty goodness.
There is no doubt that these periods are difficult, but try to put them into perspective, instead of whining about sugar cravings and how hard it is to give up sugar, recognize that the craving is actually a sign that your body is having withdrawals, therefore getting rid of and cleansing itself of the nasty sugars.
Similarly, sore muscles are a real physical measure of how hard you are working in the gym—if you are sore it is because you worked hard enough for your body to need to repair and rebuild itself, into a stronger more efficient version. This is extremely positive! I often find that the clients who whine the most about sore muscles initially, are the same clients that find themselves actually missing the soreness as their fitness levels increase.
Understanding Mind and Emotions
Becoming aware of your mind playing such tricks on yourself is a really big part of fixing the problem. If you eat something that isn’t a part of your plan or have a social event that prevents you from eating clean/exercising that day, observe your thinking afterward. “So I ate too much, I might as well make the most of it and get ice cream on the way home.” Really? How will you feel afterward? Guilty I bet.
Thinking these thoughts is not insane, uncommon, nor is it a lack of self control. However, acting on such thoughts is probably a good opportunity to employ some discipline and create healthier habits.
One small hiccup will not ruin your weight loss goal. However, making poor food choices for the rest of the day and the resulting guilt and shame probably will. Break the cycle. Think back to the car crash analogy. Don’t let a minor hiccup turn into a disaster and ruin your whole day!
You are never going to come across the “perfect time” to start a food and exercise plan—free of stress, social functions, family commitments, and daily events that give you so many seemingly great excuses to put off and avoid tackling your health and fitness goals. Make the commitment starting right now to see it through to the very end, regardless of what happens today.
Fusing the latest in sports, performance, and weight loss nutrition with holistic wellness practices, while cultivating true emotional and lifestyle balance, Anthony and his team at PURE and LEAN Nutrition System transform the bodies, minds, and lives of everyday people all over the world. www.facebook.com/pureandlean