This was originally published back in 2011 … I’ve updated it and guess what? It’s still true!
It’s a roller coaster many of us have ridden …
You’ve been spot-on with your clean eating. Your workouts have been pretty stellar. Basically, you’re killing pretty much every area of your program.
And then … pizza happens. Or maybe an extra glass (or two) of wine. And then you miss a workout or two.
Suddenly, you are a failure. You suck. You can’t stick with anything. So, you do the only thing that makes sense. You throw up your hands and give up.
DON’T DO IT!
That’s an example of black-or-white thinking, and it never works. I’m gonna help you stop that, now.
How To Stick With Your Fitness Program
A while ago at a wellness class at my gym, we talked a lot about food and what/when to eat.
One thing that struck me is how we think that there are mythical humans – human who are NOT us – who always eat “perfectly” and who never indulge and/or are rarely tempted.
That person doesn’t exist. That’s a robot. Everyone slips up now and then, and it’s the way that we THINK about those slip-ups and manage them that makes all the difference.
Sometimes there’s pizza at work, and it shows up at the exact wrong moment – when you’re hungry or tired (key times when we are at risk), or when you least expect it.
Let’s not forget about the times you’re at your wits end: stressed, emotional, too busy, and just plain “over” everything. Or your friends/family are pestering you to JUST GIVE IN this ONE TIME.
These are not the result of any intrinsic weaknesses in YOU. They are problems/hurdles/obstacles that we all face.
And the way to solve them isn’t to point the finger at yourself … instead, look at the situation and try to figure out how to fix THAT.
I’m going to outline a few real problems/situations from my own life, and how I (mostly) work around them now.
Riding The Struggle Bus
First of all, it’s hard for me to talk about being on the struggle bus because I am afraid I’m letting people down. They always seem so disappointed to know that there’s not going to be a day when they magically wake up and poof! all of these little struggles disappear.
Wouldn’t it be great if there was hope for this? Yes, it would.
The good news is that avoiding struggles gets easier the more you practice certain habits. But even then I find myself circling back around to a few key problems.
I get up really early because I go to work really early. But I don’t want to get up any earlier than I have to. I really, really, really don’t.
Even though we’re hearing all about the powers of intermittent fasting, studies continue to show the importance of eating breakfast, and I know if I don’t eat a good meal early in the day, I’m gonna be hungry later.
Well, I don’t want to prepare a full meal in the morning. And I won’t. I know this, because several times I planned to cook breakfast and it didn’t happen and I ended up grabbing something in a rush, which wasn’t the best way to start the day.
So now I cook my breakfast the night before.
Some nights (like last night) when I get home after 7 p.m. and then the phone rings and the dog starts barking and I have a gazillion things to do, I don’t want to precook my breakfast.
But I cook it anyway (last night I scrambled 3 egg whites, 1 egg, and a cup of broccoli, adding in some goat cheese). It’s in the fridge waiting for me, and will be microwaved and eaten with a slice of Ezekial bread as soon as I press the “publish” button this post. (Note: I’m on a med that requires me to take it first thing in the morning and to wait an hour before eating, which is why I didn’t eat it as soon as I woke up. 🙂 )
Running Out of Food Mid-Week
This is embarrassing to admit, but every Thursday night I found myself going through the drive-through for supper.
And I was doing this while still sweaty after teaching a high-intensity group exercise class. My stomach would be grumbling and I’d be mad at myself for putting crap into my body, even if it was from the “healthy” and “low cal” menu.
Sometimes when voice on the drive-thru speaker asked, “Would you like some nachos with that?” I would answer, “yes.”
Driving home, I’d be hating on myself. I would be all, “WHY DO YOU ALWAYS DO THIS? WHYYYY?”
And then I realized: hmm. I always do this. Why?
Duh. I was out of food at home. I was hungry. I needed to eat something immediately after class. Why didn’t I already have something on-hand?
There was a reason.
See, I tend to rock my lunches and dinners all week long … until Thursday. I work late both Wednesday and Thursday nights, and by Thursday all the proteins I precooked for the week on Sunday are gone.
And I am HUNGRY when I leave work Thursday night because I cap the day off by teaching a group ex class. Here’s a formula that will also apply to you.
Hungry Wendy + No Food In The House = Danger
Planning = Winning
What I do now is plan ahead for this. I find time during the day on Wednesday or at lunch Thursday to make sure I have food for later. Nothing that requires much prep but is more than a salad-bar salad. Yes, it’s a pain to find that time, but that little bit of pain is worth it in the long run.
Perhaps that’s a big “duh!” but it’s that kind of silly little problem that often derails our plans and makes us think we’re failures with no willpower and that we should just give up.
Look closely at the times you tend to slip up on your eating plan, and see if there’s a pattern. And if there is one, come up with a strategy that helps you work around that problem.
- Maybe you eat on Friday nights because you’re lonely or it’s become a form of entertainment for you. Entertain yourself with something else!
- Donuts at the office on Tuesdays? Bring something else, something healthier and lower calorie, to eat instead. And avoid being them around them, if at all possible.
- Weekends – always an issue. Have a plan in mind.
- Eating out. I don’t know about you, but there’s something about eating out that makes it feel like an “occasion.” But if you do it a lot, it actually is just another meal. Think about what you’re going to eat and how you’re going to ask for it to be prepared before you get to the restaurant.
It’s not so much about willpower as it is about identifying the problems, and then solving them.
Now, off to enjoy my eggs. 🙂