The further I go in my own personal fitness journey and the more I see others struggle and succeed and work to help my own clients, I can clearly see the most common reasons we fall short in our body changing goals have nothing to do with the food. Our relationship with food is an expression of how we deal with the rest of our lives. I believe that this is why when people “get it” and become successful at changing their lifestyle and changing their bodies and the rest of their lives seem to magically improve as well. Today I want to talk about some common challenges I have seen and encountered myself and how I have seen that the underlying issue isn’t really the food at all.
1. Eating to please others.
This one takes many forms. You are at someone’s house and they have cooked for you. Your family is pressuring you to eat what everyone else is eating. Your friends say you are no fun anymore because you don’t go out with them as much and when you do you don’t eat and drink to excess like they do. In each of these situations you first have to realize that the other person’s uncomfortableness with your choices is not your fault, nor is it a reflection on who you are as a person. It usually stems from not understanding, which can often be easily remedied by explaining to them why you are trying to change your lifestyle and asking for their support. Unfortunately, sometimes this behaviour is an expression of how this person is not content with their own life or body and sees your attempt at bettering yourself as a judgement on them or makes them feel bad about themselves for not also trying to change. This has to be dealt with carefully. Start by explaining that you still want to have a relationship and you still care for them, but there are certain things you need to do for yourself and you need their support. Be kind but firm. Hopefully they will eventually come around and either respect your choices or maybe even join you! If this is not the case you may have to limit your time with this person in order for you to accomplish your goals. If you identify with this challenge, look at the way you have dealt with confrontations in the past. Do you stand up for your own opinion? Or do you keep quiet even if you disagree? Would you rather bottle up your feelings and keep the peace than ask for something you really want? When is the last time you did something just for you? It’s not selfish to take care of yourself and those who truly love you will understand that. In order for you to be successful with a lifestyle change you will eventually have to stand your ground with your choices and that will mean putting up with some resistance. Prepare yourself for this and start small, perhaps with something not related to your lifestyle change, like choosing which movie to see or what to make for dinner. This isn’t about “getting your way” but rather about expressing what you want and sticking to it. It takes practice, but you will get better and the better you get the more confident you will become.
2. Getting off track on weekends or when traveling.
I hear this all the time. People are so good during the week when they have a set routine and pack their food for work. Then the weekend hits and they are running around and out all day or they go on vacation and the diet goes out the window. Because of this they don’t reach their goals and yet never learn from their mistakes and prepare themselves in advance to be successful through these challenging times. Ask any professional sports star or musician what they spend the majority of their practice time on and I guarantee the answer will be – their weaknesses. They aren’t going to waste hours practicing what they are already proficient at! Rather, they identify where they need to improve and then come up with a game plan to do so. This is exactly what we need to do with our lifestyle change. But we don’t. And I’m going to go right out and say that this challenge is not about the food, it’s purely about being lazy. If you don’t put in the effort ahead of time then don’t expect to be successful the next time you are out all day and don’t bring food and thus find yourself starving and grabbing something cheap and fast and unhealthy because you don’t see any other choice. If this is you on a regular basis you will never reach your goals. I have to be blunt with this one. If you do not reflect on where you repeatedly fail in your efforts to change your habits and come up with a plan to change that and then execute that plan, you will never succeed. This means you will have to plan in advance and take food with you when you are out for the day. When you are on vacation plan to cook some of your own meals and don’t use being on vacation as an excuse to eat junk all the time. Your body doesn’t know if you are on vacation or not and it will turn that garbage food into fat just as if it was a regular weekday. Changing this habit will take work and it won’t always be easy or convenient but I can promise you that those who have been successful in changing their bodies are the ones who are willing to put in this work and stick to their goals no matter what situation they find themselves in.
3. Letting anything and everything get you off track.
How many times do you start a sentence with the words “I was going to but…”? Does it seem like no matter what you do, something always comes up to throw you off track? Maybe you get sick, or your kids get sick, or it’s really busy at work and you get a last-minute project dropped on you, or you got sick of eating the same thing everyday. To me this is just life, it’s not some rare occurrence, but rather pretty much the typical day-to-day of every single person I know. Life is busy and erratic and often anything but routine. Instead of looking for the reasons why you can’t stick to your goals you need to find ways to make it work within your actual lifestyle, not the fictional calm life you think you will have whenever the current obstacle are gone. Look at the way your daily life has been for the last couple of weeks and use that information to plan your next week. Somewhere out there someone busier than you is making it work. Start looking for opportunities to make better choices that will lead you to your ultimate goals. When you lose the excuses you will find your motivation.
This article was researched and written by Follow @DaraCoxPT
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