One of the best ways to lose the motivation to follow through on any goal is by getting confused. If you are confused about any part of your plan, that’s where you’ll hit a wall.
Think about it… this is a long-term goal. After you lose all the weight you desire, you have to stick with a similar healthy lifestyle or risk gaining your weight back. That’s where most people fail. They successfully lose 10 or 20 pounds (or more) by jumping, enthusiastically, into an exercise and healthy-eating program. They bust a gut every day while they’re trying to lose weight, but once they reach their target weight, all bets are off. However, in most cases the signs of slumping motivation show up even before your enthusiasm wanes.
Open Refrigerator, Insert Face
Have you ever been right smack in the middle of a diet, only to find your face in the refrigerator foraging for comfort food or sitting in front of the T.V. with a bulk-sized bag of chips in spite of the fact that you KNOW you’re supposed to be on a diet? There are several reasons why you repeatedly find yourself in this predicament and lack of clarity from the start is one of the reasons. But why?
Riddle Me This
QUESTION: If you’re hungry and you haven’t planned for an emergency snack attack, what are you likely to do?
ANSWER: Fall back into your old, familiar eating habits.
QUESTION: If you ran into a friend while out shopping and she invites you to lunch, what are you most likely to order?
ANSWER: Well, that actually depends on how hungry you are and who orders first. But, if you’re hungry, you’ll probably order the same bad foods that you’ve ordered a million times. Why? Because you’re hungry, and it’s familiar and easy. You will, however, increase your chances of eating something healthy if you order first. More about this later in the series.
QUESTION: You’re at work and you’ve eaten all your snacks and lunch at the appropriate times. You’re feeling pretty good about it. But late in the day, about an hour before quitting time, you’re suddenly hit with a major hunger attack. How do you solve this?
ANSWER: Easy, you go to the vending machine, find the “healthy” snack bar, punch F-9 on the key pad and drool while you watch your jumbo, double-chocolate chip cookie drop. Bad dog!
There is a common denominator in all of these scenarios: lack of clarity. You’ve got to plan your plan; you’ve got to know your plan; and you’ve got to execute your plan at each moment when the time is right.
Midnight in the Pantry of Good and Evil
The examples above are obstacles that, often, we never see coming. They hit us, we freak out, then we’re off on an eating binge. But in each case, there is always a moment…you know the moment…when a small war begins in your head or in your heart. A little battle between a devil on one shoulder and an angel on the other. It’s a moment when you sense a pitchfork in the road. A little hunger that you’re not prepared for starts to well up in your tum-tum. And when that happens, the only way that you’ll ever give in and eat unhealthy food is if you CHOOSE to. I’ve been there, and I always know when I’ve crossed that line. And you do too! Yes you do, don’t lie…seriously, don’t lie or make excuses. Be honest and take responsibility. If you do, you’re, again, going to increase your chance of sticking to your diet and keeping the weight off.
As Clear as Zero-Calorie Water
This time, when you’re ready to start a diet and exercise program, you’re going to do something you’ve probably never done before and that’s to create a comprehensive plan. Keep in mind that comprehensive doesn’t mean complicated. Our goal is to plan for those unexpected moments that you’re most likely to encounter. These are the ones that get us all but often seem to go unnoticed. Even if you know what caused you to slip up, you need to plan so it won’t happen again. If you don’t have a comprehensive plan which includes weight maintenance, your chances of keeping off the weight become slim, while your waistline gets thick.
Be clear about what body fat percentage you want to be at. It’s better to watch your body fat percentage as a true indication of how you’re doing. That’s because muscle weighs more than fat. So if you build any muscle while exercising, it may look like you’ve lost no weight or very little when you step on the scale. But if you pay attention to your body fat percentage, you’ll know how you’re doing, regardless of your weight loss according to your scale. It’s also very important to be clear about how you want to feel and what you want your life (post-weight loss) to be like. Having the right vision of how your life will change for the better, not only a vision of a thinner and healthier you, makes a tremendous difference.
Pete and Repeat…
You know what else you need to be clear about? Failure. What is it? How do you deal with it? How can you avoid making the same mistakes again? Failure might appear to you as a slip-up in your diet or exercise routine. If that happens, it not gloom and doom. It’s very important that you have the right frame of mind. So I want you to look at failure, instead, as feedback. Trust me, “failure”, if treated properly, can be your friend. You can turn failure into an advantage every time by making some observations.
EXAMPLE: Pete stood in his dining room with chocolate fondue on his shirt, on his hands, in his hair, and on his face. Suddenly, he snapped out of his chocolate high when he caught a glimpse of himself in the dining room mirror covered in chocolate, clutching his fondue pot with a crazed look on his face. Suddenly, he dropped to his knees and cried out to the Gods of diets… “Why did you invent chocolate? Are you trying to punish me? Every time I start a diet, you tempt me to go off by waving chocolate in front of me. Curse you… [insert echo] curse youuuuuuu!” (to be continued…)
Ahem. Okay, I realize that I’m being a bit dramatic, but who, among you, hasn’t felt this way? Right? Instead of Pete trying to understand the circumstances surrounding his day-3 chocolate binge, what does he do? He repeats the same scenario again and again, every time he starts a diet. But Pete’s story has a happy ending. So let’s go back to the story.
EXAMPLE continued: There, in the middle of Pete’s dining room, he lay there curled up in a ball around his fondue pot, crying oh, so gently and softly. Would his obese suffering ever end? Suddenly, there was a flash of brilliant light and there stood his friendly neighborhood Motivation Man. “Motivation Man, what are you doing here?” Pete cried out. “Well, Pete,” Motivation Man started, “I can see by your chocolaty mess that you need help. And if you don’t change your ways, you’ll be doomed to repeat them. So I’m going to show you how to turn tragedy into triumph.”
I’ll spare you the long version and summarize what Motivation Man said. When you “accidentally” eat something unhealthy or overeat something healthy (yes, it’s possible to even overeat healthy foods), don’t get down on yourself. Chalk it up to a weak moment. Then try to figure out what conditions contributed to you being weak enough to make a poor choice. Consider these:
- Did you wait so long to eat that you were extremely hungry and susceptible to your cravings?
- Did you forget to reinforce the proper mindset by using things such as health-related magazines, paperbacks or audio books throughout the day to keep you focused and strong?
- Did you miss the “opportunity” to give away the chocolate stashed in your cabinets so that it wouldn’t be around to tempt you in the first place?
- Have you kept your mind occupied rather than constantly dwelling on the fact that you’re dieting?
- Was there an outside influence such as driving by a Starbucks, a doughnut shop, or seeing a T.V. commercial that triggered your craving?
- Did you not have an appropriate snack prepared ahead of time and close at hand in case you got a craving?
- Did you not have a healthy sweet treat available as an alternative since you know you get chocolate cravings?
- When you felt the craving coming on, could you have diverted the craving by spending 10 or 15 minutes going for a walk or using the treadmill?
- Could you have told your spouse or a friend that you were feeling weak and needed support?
It’s all about being prepared and having clarity about how you’ll handle the unexpected when (not if) it occurs. There are so many ways to plan ahead and be ready when a craving or a weak moment strikes. This is the mindset that will make the difference.
By now, you’re probably starting to get a better idea of what you can do to go beyond where you’ve stopped before. Now that you understand how important a little clarity is, it’s time to get down to the nuts and bolts. In the next article, we’re going to dive right in. I’ll be delving into the strategies that will allow you to stick with your diet. Now we’re getting into the most important stuff. And keep in mind that this is about more than just losing a few pounds. You’re not just losing weight, you’re completely reinventing yourself!
You’re definitely not going to want to miss this!