Have you started 1,200 diets in your lifetime – most of them on a Monday?
Why did you quit? What went wrong?
Your motivation is never higher than when you start, but what happens when it wears off? Bingo. You fall back into old habits.
You need to come to grips with the mindset failures holding you back. Here are a few of the worst, and what you can do to manage them so your diet sticks this time.
Mind Trap 1: “I’ll start Monday.”
“I might as well eat this entire red velvet cake, because my diet starts on Monday and I’ll be good then.”
Sound about right?
You think there’s time to start later, but poor food choices today are setting you back further.
Try to recognize when you are rationalizing an unhealthy decision, and remind yourself why you want to change in the first place.
Your reason for wanting to change will hopefully overrule the short term satisfaction of that cake. *However, you can have your cake and get lean, too (see #2)
Mind Trap 2: “It’s all or nothing”
Adopting a healthy lifestyle doesn’t have to be all or nothing. You may think of your success or failure in black-and-white terms–but that’s not how it works.
You don’t have to be ALL IN or ALL OUT. A “fun” meal or piece or two of red velvet cake can fit into a healthy lifestyle.
The problem with most people who start and fail is they see momentary lapses in judgment as major setbacks, when really they are minor speed bumps.
To steal a phrase from The Alchemist: “One dies of thirst just when the palm trees have appeared on the horizon.”
There are plateaus along the way – but in the past you’ve seen them as dead ends when they’re in fact just detours.
You need an intelligent game plan in order to reverse this trend of starting and stopping, while allowing yourself the odd indulgence.
Focus on “Approach Goals” that develop small, achievable habits. Such as “Eat protein with dinner” or “eat three different types of vegetables today.”
Avoid “Avoidance Goals” such as “Never eat ice cream” or “no eating after 6 p.m.” as you’re likely to feel restricted.
Mind Trap 3: “I’m too busy”
Over my many years of coaching, there’s little relationship between a person’s “busyness” and their transformation success.
It’s about managing priorities, not time.
You will have to make time for exercise and preparing quality foods – no doubt about it. The 15 minute miracle fix is largely a marketing ploy.
But it doesn’t have to dominate your life. There are strategies I’ve written about in the past to minimize food prep time and make the most of your time in the gym. Keep it simple.
Mind Tap 4: “Today is a special day.”
When you want to make an excuse to overindulge, it’s amazing how easy it is to justify it.
“It’s my cat’s fourth birthday, might as well chow down these cookies in her honour”
“My car has gone 4 months without an oil change, let’s celebrate with a Big Mac, OK, baby? (yes, you talk to your car… weirdo)
So what gets in the way of your best laid plans when you start changing habits?
Your vulnerability to instant gratification.
When a tempting object is staring at you, like that donut in the office lunchroom, the reward system in your brain kicks in.
It’s a challenge for us all.
But it’s not about restricting yourself. Set some groundrules instead.
Maybe work is the place you cheat on your diet the most. Prepare a lunch and avoid the area most commonly used as the “dumping ground” for sweats and left over treats.
Or, if weekends do you in, plan ahead for that party. If you know there will be temptations, eat something healthy prior so you aren’t starving, and set some boundaries.
That could mean vowing to stop after two beers, or telling yourself one serving of dessert is the limit. Share with your spouse so he/she keeps you accountable.
Mind Trap 5: “I don’t have the genetics to look like that”
Yes, there are genetic advantages and disadvantages among us.
But you can become the best possible version of yourself – IF you believe it’s possible.
You have a vision of your ideal physique. Maybe it’s more about how you’d feel living in that body than the vanity of it, but it’s there all the same.
Nothing wrong with desiring something better and healthier. We all have desires.
But desire isn’t enough to achieve success.
You need to pair desire with an expectation that you’ll succeed. Visualize where you want to go and then put in the work to get there.
Let’s say you start a diet with the intention of losing 20 lbs and taking back control of your life. You want to lose 20 pounds, but your mind isn’t matched up with your actions, because you believe you’ll fail like you have in past attempts.
Instead, this time, firmly believe you’ll succeed. Then start living today as though you are the person you want to be. You’ll make the right decisions to move you closer to that ideal because you have your own standards to uphold.
Before you start that diet, sit down and visualize the end result. What does it look like? How do you feel at the end? How do you feel about yourself when you’ve lost the weight? The more detailed the questions you ask yourself, the better.
Then write down a list of goals for yourself. Is it to look a certain way? Feel a certain way? Is it a certain scale weight? (I don’t love that one because the scale is deceptive). Something magical happens when you write down your desire and refer back to it daily.
But you can’t just dream your way to a new physique. The last step is execution. You need to put in the work necessary to get there.
Your .02 cents
So, what’s the biggest challenge standing in the way of you losing that spare tire, beer gut or muffin top?
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