Here come the doughnuts! There goes my diet plan!
How many times have you begun a nutrition plan or diet only to have someone bring doughnuts to your office or home?
You have the best intentions and you're certain your willpower will hold out this time. After all your beach trip is only a few, short weeks away, and you want to look good in your swimsuit!
Usually this is where the bargaining begins. You have a debate with yourself. You reason that you've been so good on your diet so you choose to indulge a little. Everyone else is, why should you be the only one left out? So you take a delicious doughnut, or two, and decide that tomorrow is a new day and you'll eat perfectly tomorrow.
Does this situation sound familiar? Maybe it's not doughnuts for you but chips and salsa, or ice cream? Whatever "it" is doesn't really matter. What does matter how you feel afterward -- as a wimp with no willpower.
I'm going to share with you a secret: willpower has nothing to do with it.
In my days of constantly chasing weight loss and experimenting with different diets this scenario was common place for me. I see the scenario daily on social media. It's usually portrayed with clever memes or a gif but, nevertheless, the guilt-trip is the same - success comes from willpower, and if you only had more of it you'd be successful.
Why does this cycle happen and how can it be stopped?
Willpower is highly overrated. It's a word we frequently use and see yet, if asked, I'm guessing most of us would have trouble defining it. It almost feels like a mystical factor that needs to be harnessed in order to have power over food.
I'll say it again. A lack of willpower is not most people's problem.
Take the focus off of willpower and instead put it on decisions, habits and discipline.
Dieting doesn't work in the long run and I'm not a fan.
Everyone is choosing a "Word for the Year" -- everyone except me.
So much can change in your life in one month, one week or even one day, much more over the course of one whole year.
Some words I've seen chosen are: joy, trust, slow, rest, yes, brave, etc. You get the idea. The trend is to choose a word that represents the type of year you want, and then make decisions based off the word.
One major change in your life will sabotage everything, if it all rests on one word.
I plan my year for vacations, school schedules and big projects for my business, but for all the other things? Monthly. My approach is more realistic, and healthier. Therefore, instead of adding stress when life goes crazy, I am able to adjust. Flexibility facilitates your wellness journey.
So often we view the month of January as setting the tone for the year. If we are successful with our health in January then we can assume we'll be successful for the rest of the year. I'm sorry but this is faulty thinking. First of all what if January is an incredibly challenging month for you financially, emotionally, or physically? What if you feel "unsuccessful" this month? Does that mean the rest of your year is shot? I sure hope not!
On the flip side of this, what if January is a highly successful month for you? You hit your fitness and nutrition goals you're on your way to your summer body and then reality hits and you find yourself back where you started. Does this mean you need to wait until next year to start over? Of course not! It would be silly to even think that. This is exactly why I enjoy the new year but I don't place too much pressure on myself to make the month of January "perfect."
A key element that is overlooked when it comes to New Year's goals is how to implement new habits to accomplish those goals. Goals are set with good intentions but, without a clear plan, it is likely you will fall short. This can leave you feeling like you failed. The remedy is to develop some new habits.
The greatest success I've seen with creating new habits is planning out and implementing one or two at a time. Focus on those few items and really perform them well for six weeks, at least. Then it will become an organic part of your day. After that, add another new, healthy habit.
For example, let's say this year you want to implement a new exercise routine, cut out all processed foods, get 8 hours of sleep each night and implement a quiet time into your day for reflection. Wow I'm tired just writing all that! That's A LOT of pressure, and too much to handle all at any once.
The key is to choose one or two of these new habits, decide how you're going to implement it and then get to a point where it's second nature. Let's say you choose to focus on getting adequate sleep each night, but you're also eager to start working out. Determine what time you need to go to bed by to get the sleep you need. Then decide what you'll do to ensure that your head hits the pillow at the time and do those things.
To begin your new exercise routine start slowly. Plan to commit to 20 minutes a day to start. Work your way up from there. If you currently don't exercise at all, but set a goal to workout for one hour, 6 days a week, you'll probably revert back to your old ways. It's just too much pressure on the body. Will this take longer than implementing all the goals at once? No it will not, because it will work.
Whatever you do to inspire yourself for the new year I encourage you to remember this, one critical truth:
Taking care of your body is lifelong commitment.
Don't rely on a quick fix, trendy diet or fad exercise program as your be all to end all. These things are never a miracle cure.
I encourage you to view good health as a way of life. Adopt that way now and stick with it forever.