No assumptions here… no really!
But just in case you’re feeling a little shaky about your progress on getting your 2011 diet – or other 2011 resolutions – in gear, here is a little pep talk along with a few suggestions.
I always know when a client who is attempting to make lifestyle changes, including diet and exercise, has, in their words, "forgotten," "cheated," or otherwise had a relapse. They look ashamed, angry at themselves, and/or apologetic. Feel familiar?
Start with giving up the tendency to think of yourself as the bad guy. I encourage clients to do is not to sit and blame themselves. You’re human and behavior change isn’t easy, and beating up on yourself just leads to more self-defeating behavior. So ease up on the self put-downs.
Instead, consider your relapse not as a defeat but as an opportunity. While everyone has the goal of staying on course and not relapsing, a relapse can also be a wake-up call. Instead of being a time for scolding,, a relapse is a time to ask important questions about how you have been approaching your diet, or other behavior change, and taking a hard look at your strategy. In other words, get back up on the horse.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself:
Are your goals realistic or are you setting yourself up for failure by demanding too much and too soon of yourself? It might be helpful to break your goals down into smaller steps, starting with what you most need to change about your diet, and move forward from there. As they say, Rome wasn’t built in a day.
Is this a diet that best suits your eating preferences and lifestyle? This might be a time to talk with your healthcare team about putting together a diet that will be a better fit. The same goes for exercise and other behavior changes.
Do you have a strong enough support system to help you stay compliant? Is this the time to take a step back and make sure that you have enrolled your family and friends to be members of your support team? (Realistically, this might also be the time to have a talk with family members who don’t understand why, or how, to be supportive of your dietary needs.)
Have you encountered a new trigger to overeating that you hadn't planned for? People, places, things in your day to day routine may be presenting you with temptations to indulge and break the good eating habits you are trying to establish. The same principal applies to triggers that might lead to procrastinationor avoidance of getting enough exercise.
Are you experiencing some emotions that are uncomfortable or unfamiliar and are interfering with your ability to maintain your eating goals? Emotions like anger, sadness, frustration, even simple boredom, can trigger the desire to escape into a candy bar or a plate of macaroni and cheese (or spend a few hours in front of the TV). This might be a time to find new ways to cope with emotions.
Make sense? What I am saying here is that a relapse is an opportunity to take a step back and look closely at your diet strategy, and to make any necessary adjustments or tweaks to get it back on track.
As human beings, we are always a work in progress. Our strategies for self improvement need to be designed to work with us along the journey, and not against us.
Nobody is so evolved that they can't benefit from a tweak here, a tune-up there!
So, don't add to the bumps and bruises by beating up on yourself. See what you can learn from your relapse, dust yourself off, and hop back up on the horse.
Keep telling yourself: I can do this! You know you can!
Any experiences to share! It would be great to hear from you!
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