1/ We are all only human
Accept that eating healthy is a lifestyle change, not a diet. We all slip up from time to time. One of my clients has tried every diet going, and I was thrilled when she announced the other day that she finally realised eating healthy can be enjoyable – and that it isn't a form of punishment.
Dr Steve Peters' book The Chimp Paradox argues that the mind is made up of three separate ‘brains’: Human, Chimp and Computer. You are the Human, your Chimp is an emotional thinking machine, and your Computer is a storage area and automatic functioning machine. Learning to understand your Chimp, and its emotionally driven and often impulsive eating habits is key. Peters says, “One of the secrets of success and happiness is to learn to live with your Chimp and not get bitten or attacked by it”.
Planning for perfection sets you up for a fail. No-one can (or should) be 100% perfect, 100% of the time. So you’ve had a setback from your healthy eating plan. We all make mistakes - accept it and move on. Life is too short to dwell on what can’t be changed. Live in the now. Make your next decision the right one.
2/ Patience! Invest in the long-term
You may be impatient, with an unrealistic goal and unrealistic expectations. A successful weight-loss plan means losing weight at a healthy rate. Forget fad diets and what celebrities manage with their private chefs. Ironically, this kind of dieting actually leads to more dieting, as yo yo diets and a fluctuating weight play havoc with your metabolism and make you more prone to putting on weight.
And who wants to survive on shakes or juices, anyway? If you have become overweight because you enjoy eating, then eating should be a pleasure. Now is the time to embrace new nutritious foods and how good they make you feel.
3/ Change those habits - decide to open your gate of change
You can keep on making excuses about your bad eating, or you can look at how to change your lifestyle to suit your new healthy eating plan. It will only last if your motivation is intrinsic (deeply held from within) rather than extrinsic (like pressure from family or friends)
Stephen Covey's bestselling book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People explains “No one can persuade another to change. Each of us guards a gate of change that can only be opened from the inside. We cannot open the gate of another, either by argument or by emotional appeal. Decide to open your gate of change!”
4/ Find your support system
So you’ve tried going it alone and it hasn’t worked. Don’t be afraid to ask for emotional support when the going gets tough, whether that’s a professional such as a nutritional behavioural therapist or a friend.
Find a training partner for the gym, too. Exercise is always more fun when you have someone to talk to and share achievements with. And it might just bring out that competitive spirit.
It’s worth bearing in mind that we are all different, and what works for someone else may not work for you. Don’t give up!
5/ Reward yourself with something other than food
Food can be an immediate reward and is so easily accessible these days.
Since childhood, most of us are led to overeat and consume too much sugar. “Finish your dinner and you can have pudding” – sound familiar?
Break that habit! Set yourself mini-goals and plan a (non-food) treat each time you achieve it. Maybe a fresh manicure, a new magazine or tickets to a gig?
Give yourself some “me” time – perhaps book out a whole Saturday to do whatever YOU want and don’t feel guilty about it!
Originally featured in Women's Health by Sarah Anderson (nee Wilson)