As we begin a new year many people make resolutions to change or improve their lives. While I teach that you don't have to wait for a new year, a new week or even a new day to start to make changes, it is the new year, so there is no time like to present to get after it.
New year resolutions are often about the new actions we will take or the bad habits we will give up, but perhaps the most important factor we can work on is our mindset. Sometimes it's our own thoughts that hold us back from achieving our goals. We just have to learn to get out of our own way.
Even with best intentions, we sometimes let our thoughts dictate our behavior and some thoughts can sabotage our fat loss efforts. Do you fall into any of these mind traps? I know I have.
FIVE THOUGHT PATTERNS THAT SABOTAGE YOUR FAT LOSS EFFORTS
All or nothing thinking is when you are either on your diet or off. There is no middle ground. You either only eat skinless grilled chicken breast and kale or you only eat cheeseburgers, double fries and dessert. It's like that old poem.
People who subscribe to all or nothing thinking tend to have drastic weight fluctuations. They can only stay "on the wagon" for so long until that wagon crashes and burns. A better strategy is to make food choices on a continuum. This means that most of the time you give your best effort to eat healthful foods, but when faced with a food option that is less-than-healthy, you simply consider, "How can I make this choice a little bit better?" Maybe you eat your burger without the bun, maybe you replace those fries with a small salad or offer to share with a friend. When we stop striving for nutritional perfection and just be mindful of our choices and attempt to make them just a little bit better, everything changes. You can enjoy the foods you love in moderation, without guilt or shame. Healthy eating isn't about perfection but rather about making the best choice of what's reasonable in the moment.
Bargaining is when you tell yourself if you eat this salad for lunch on Tuesday you can eat anything you want on Saturday. Bargaining can hurt more than it helps. To deprive yourself only to overindulge later defeats the purpose. You are the boss of you. You don't have to negotiate with yourself for anything. You make the choices and live with the consequences. You don't need to give yourself permission to eat something less-than-healthy by paying for it later with a protein smoothie.
We eat according to our priorities. Maybe most of the time it is our priority to eat healthfully, but there are times it is our priority to celebrate with loved ones over food and drinks...and that's OK. Bonding with people is a huge part of healthy lifestyle. You don't have to bargain with yourself for cheesecake. If you want it, eat it slowly, savor it and enjoy it and then move on to your next healthy meal.
START OVER MONDAY
When you tell yourself you will start over on Monday, or the first of the month, or the new year, you sabotage the time leading up to your fresh start. Why not just start now, or at your next meal? There is no pause button on a healthy lifestyle. A healthy lifestyle is how you live every single day. You don't have to be perfect, you just have to be mindful of your choices. When you tell yourself you can start over at some future date, you sabotage the days you are in. It doesn't mean you can't enjoy an indulgence. You never have to start over if you are always mindful of your choices, both good and bad.
Exercise is not a punishment for food. You don't have to pay penance for your pizza with burpees. Food is not a reward for exercise. You can reward yourself in other ways, how about a massage or new workout gear? Let's shift our mindset to exercising because it makes us feel great and eating foods that make us feel great, rather than a punishment/reward cycle. If we view exercise as punishment it makes it harder to stick to it over the long term. If unhealthy food is our only reward for hard work, we may sabotage our results.
As humans, we tend to look for the easy way out, the hack, the one neat trick that will solve all our problems, but healthy living isn't in a pill, shake or cleanse. When we shift our focus to supplements and fitness hacks, we get further away from actually achieving our goals. Precision Nutrition calls it "Mowing the lawn while your house is on fire." It's a great metaphor because yeah, maybe the grass needs to be cut, but if your house is on fire, you have more pressing concerns. Before you spend any time, energy or money on supplements or quick fixes, make sure your house isn't burning down. Are you covering the basics? Do you eat whole foods from nature most of the time? Do you move your body in a way you enjoy on a daily basis? Are you getting 7-8 hours of sleep each night? Are you managing stress? Most supplements and hacks only give you an edge when you're already doing everything else right, otherwise they're generally a waste of time. Focus on the basics. Get really good at healthy habits.
I've done all of these and like most people, I am work in progress too. Having a healthy mindset is the first step in a healthy lifestyle. Once your mind is right, everything else falls into place.
Do you like the way I think? Need help with your nutrition? I still have an opening in my nutrition habits coaching. Try the first month at 75% off. Kick off 2018 with healthy habits coaching, the sane and sustainable way to lasting weight loss.
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