So you have set out a goal in your mind, perhaps even wrote it down somewhere. You want to lose weight, or clean up your diet, improve your fitness, or perhaps all three? All of a sudden, you have lapsed back into your old habits and old ways and now feel guilty, ashamed, angry and depressed that you have let yourself and perhaps even others down again. Let’s turn this around and learn from it. You may stumble and fall again whilst changing your lifestyle, and believe it or not, many bikini competitors and fitness models do so, but it is important to learn from each failure as you would learn from success. The more you are willing to know why you have failed, the more you can prevent failing the same way again.
7 Steps to get back on the clean eating bandwagon
- Stop and take a step back. It’s ok. It happened, but lets stop going further. You dropped your new phone on the ground and put a little crack in the screen- why would you pick up a hammer and smash it into a thousand pieces? It is similar to falling off the diet and exercise bandwagon. You ate a packet of Tim Tams? Big whoop! No need to eat pizza and ice cream for dinner, and junk food for the rest of the week. Yes, you can start/restart your diet/lifestyle on a day other than New Years Day or Monday. Now lets work on some damage control.
- Acknowledge why you fell off the wagon. Yes, sometimes people have childhood issues, or issues with love, and self worth, some people have had damaging past relationships, and some may be in one now. But spending all day blaming and analyzing another person or time in your life for your current habits will not change your situation. So lets acknowledge why it is you have fallen off the wagon (think: stress, boredom, sadness, loneliness, lack of preparation?) but lets not dwell on it. I just want you to be aware of why you happened to fail this time. Be honest with yourself. If you are a boredom eater (like myself), own it and acknowledge it. I now know if I don’t keep myself busy I will tell myself I am hungry all day long and not stop thinking about or eating food. Now I have acknowledged this, and I own this (it is not my parents problem, it is mine), I keep myself busy- particularly in the afternoons and evenings when I am most likely to take out my boredom on the fridge.
Another one of my traps I am likely to fall into is lack of preparation. I am out shopping on the weekend, and suddenly I go from hungry to starving and not only to I go to a close café or food court to eat something unhealthy, I am so famished I eat an obscene quantity.
- Stop comparing your failure to other people’s success. You don’t know what happens behind closed doors. Some people may have changed to a healthy diet or exercise regime years before you, and you cannot compare the beginning of your journey to the middle of theirs. Some people may claim to be on the same healthy lifestyle, but have more radical results. Again, you don’t know what they are doing to achieve this. Don’t assume you can’t lose weight if you plateau or even gain a pound or two.
- Write down your goals. Specific goals: long term and short term. Make your short term goal for the week and the long term goal for the month. Make it somewhere visible. At the end of every day write down targets and an action plan for the following day- this helps mentally prep yourself for the day ahead. For example: You may have a short term goal to work out 5 times this week. The night before or day before you will need to be thinking how I can help achieve this. Will you be going for a run in the morning? Or perhaps you will be going to the gym after work to lift weights? Have you chosen which weights and exercises you will be doing?
- Prepare. This is a big one. The key to success is preparation. Meal prep is my key for staying on track with my food. Prepare at very minimum food for the following day. Make sure you always have enough food in the fridge and pantry that is healthy. I have healthy snacks prepared, along with meals ready to go several days in advance. This is a win-win moment for me as I now don’t spend every night and morning cooking or getting my lunch ready, and I also don’t spend time cleaning up every night. I have more time to exercise and be present with my fiancé and shortly, my daughter also.
Have healthy snacks stashed in places you are most likely to fail- in your handbag, nappy bag and even car. Fresh fruit, nuts, protein bars, tuna and rice cakes, and even protein shakes are fantastic, compact, healthy alternatives to junk food.
- Remove temptation. If you can’t resist it, don’t have it in the house. I ask my fiancé to hide his snack stash. He got sick of me eating it, and I didn’t have the will power to have it right under my nose 24/7, so he has it. If I can’t see the block of chocolate, I won’t eat it. I’ll eat the fruit salad in the fridge instead. Problem solved.
- Don’t reward yourself with food. It is a dangerous and unhealthy mentality. You can have treat meals but they are not rewards for meeting a certain weight, or fitting into the goal dress or bikini. You are not a dog- do not reward yourself with food. Reward yourself with something that will make you feel good for longer than the 10 minutes you eat that burger or ice cream. Something that makes you feel special- jewelry, perfume, a nice outfit, shoes, the options are endless. The point of this is that every time you spray the perfume, or wear the shoes, you are proud of yourself and your accomplishment and you increase your self esteem. After stuffing your face with a big dinner and dessert, you feel bloated, uncomfortable, and unhappy. This is not how you should make yourself feel for achieving a goal. Again, treat meals? Yes. Food rewards? No.