Dieting Dilemma No 1: When Life Gets in the Way
That pesky thing called life has a way of fouling up our the best laid plans. First you decide you’re going to start keeping your car cleaner, thinking, “I’ll wash it every Saturday morning.” Great, you have a plan. Saturday comes along and someone calls inviting you to go golfing. “I was going to wash the car, but I can do it when I get back,” and off you go. Maybe you do wash the car later that day, maybe you tell yourself, “I’ll wash it next Saturday. It wasn’t that dirty anyway.”
Next week Saturday comes along and someone invited you camping so you’re in the woods thinking, “Oh, well, I can’t wash the car from here, can I?”
Another Saturday rolls around and you’ve forgotten all about your car washing plan, so even though you’re not doing anything else you’re thinking, “I don’t really FEEL like washing the car right now. I’ll do it later,” and so it goes.
“Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.” — John Lennon
It happens to all of us. You join the gym and immediately get the flu. Sign up for a adult education class and you’re car breaks down on the first night. When you need to water the grass there’s no rain in sight, but wash the car and what always happens? These examples aren’t meant to give you a pessimistic outlook but instead to point out why persistence in the face of obstacles is what separates the haves from the have nots.
It’s not what happens but what you DO with what happens that matters
The best approach is one-day-at-a-time, or even lesser intervals depending on what you are attempting to do. If you’re trying to quit smoking, you might want to take things half-an-hour at a time. With food or eating it can be one meal at a time, one hunger pang or craving at a time, or whatever interval works for you.
Choose your Time Interval then Make it Happen
If you say you’ll never do something again (smoke, overeat, over drink) it never lasts (you must build in the possibility of occasional lapse), but if you wake up in the morning and decide for that day, and only that day, that you will follow through with your plan, for just that one day, then it does happen.
There’s a real rush of accomplishment when you wake up and realize that yesterday you did follow-through; you accomplished what you set out to do. And that’s when it’s easier to decide your intention for that day (or that hour) once again. Each accomplishment builds onto the next, and it gets easier and easier. Learning to follow-through takes practice.
Let Successes Build, Lapses Pass
It takes practice to get proficient no matter what you are learning, so plan to persist. Small lapses aren’t failures, they are only lapses, and you then decided for the next time period. You will find that you are following through more often than not as time goes by. Doing this allows you to pre-plan when you know you’ll not stick to your eating plan, thereby making it okay on occasion to over indulge. Holidays, special occasions. People who maintain a healthy body weight do this all the time without thinking about it. When you give yourself permission to indulge, it’s amazing how much less you’ll feel like overdoing it.
What About Those Obstacles and Unexpected Events?
What about when you decide and something comes up unexpectedly? For instance, you decided you’re going to work out on Monday, Wednesday and Friday after work at 6:00 PM. This works great on Monday and Wednesday but Friday someone asks you to join them after work for drinks or dinner. Maybe that cute co-worker you’ve had your eye on.
What do you do? Do you say, “No, thanks, I have to work out,” and risk never getting to know that person, or “No, I already have plans,” and sound like a jerk, or “Maybe some other time,” and you know there’ll never be another time, or “Yes, that sounds great,” and then you berate yourself for being a whimp and not following through with your workout plan? Either way you’re not going to feel good about your decision and you’re setting yourself up to fail.
Set Things Up So You’ll Succeed – No Matter What
Instead, set things up so you will succeed, no matter what. Before you decide what you want to do, think it through completely. This is part of the “Creating a Compelling Outcome” process (included in the Ending Emotional Eating Workshop). When you decide what you’d like to do you must also consider everything else that will be affected and whether your plan is workable in the real world. Maybe Friday night workouts are going to be interrupted often. Better then to choose a different day or time.
If you thought about it before-hand you may have realized that things would often come up Friday evenings, so you decided to work out on Monday and Wednesday evenings and Saturday mornings, or some other schedule. Thinking about what might interfere is why many people do their exercise in the early morning hours. Working out in the morning virtually ensures nothing else will interfere. No one invites you out for 6:00 AM except maybe your running partner!
If you want to get up early, think it through. Are you a night person? Early morning hours probably won’t work for you, but some other time will. Do you have a spouse who’d complain loudly? Consider them as well, but don’t let everyone else’s preferences keep you from doing what’s best for you. Consider others and any objections they may have, and then decide in advance how to counter those objections. It’s basically a way to look at your plans from all the angles, figure out the danger zones, decide in advance on strategies to keep you on track, and then get started.
Secondly, realize that once in awhile you won’t be able to keep to your plan. That’s okay. Holidays interfere with gym hours. I’ve been annoyed when the gym was closed on Christmas Day! Sometimes despite your best efforts, things come up. That’s okay too. You must be somewhat flexible, but at the same time persist to make sure you have scheduled a plan that can work the majority of the time.
Use This Process on Any Change You’d Like to Make
If you’re making changes in your eating habits, do the same thing. I’ve done this successfully with many eating habits such as my old “Once a week cheese burgers and fries habit” which is now down to seldom or a couple of times a year. I did this by taking my four times a month cheese burgers and fries habit and cutting it back first to three times a month, then twice a month. Finally it was easy enough to just drop it. The habit was broken once I broke the regular cycle.
Remember too, you’re not setting up a perfectionist situation, but a plan you can live with and work with. Choose one small thing to change, one habit, one event. Achieving small wins daily builds to enormous successes, and life goes on. Enjoy every moment of it.
Then, when those special situations arise, you’ll know what to do, because you’ve already planned ahead, and even if you abandon your plan, for a vacation perhaps, you just get right back on track when you return feeling refreshed and excited to get started again. Relaxing like this on a vacation many find they eat a lot, play a lot and any weight they gain is lost within days of their return.
By Kathryn Martyn, Master NLP Practitioner, EFT counselor, author of Changing Beliefs, Your First Step to Permanent Weight Loss, and owner of OneMoreBite-Weightloss.com
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