As we talked about in Forget Dieting. Try Living. Diets typically fail because they are too restrictive, we get frustrated with the restrictive nature or our inability to adhere to these restrictions. When these frustrations reach a boiling point we “crash”. You get fed up and say “Screw this [insert chosen diet name here] SH*T. I’m ordering Pizza!” The following morning you wake up thinking, “Why did I do that? I ruined my diet. I suck.” And then you make pancakes and bacon and eat way too much of it to feel better. This continues the downward spiral of consistently being inconsistent…
In the lifestyle approach, it is better to maintain adherence that is less strict, then falter on consistency and create a downward spiral. As we are able to maintain this adherence we continually challenge ourselves. Make more changes, testing our abilities, seeing what we can accomplish. Having realistic goals and making changes that we can attain consistently will give us strength and encouragement to keep moving forward with our healthy lifestyle.
Building this lifestyle takes time. Starting something new is always challenging. The more we can see successes in what we are doing the more we are encouraged to push forward. As any infant will tell you; when first starting out, walking is hard. It takes a year or more to build fine motor skills, balance, strength. It takes practice sitting up, crawling, standing. And only after all those can you start to walk. Sure you fall down, we all fail. But the key is to not let that slip define the rest of what you have done. To take that slip and say, “I ate Pizza. I ate mindfully, I didn’t overeat. My meals are planned for tomorrow, I’m ready to keep working toward my goals.” That is consistency. It’s not perfect, but it is consistent.
First: I eat as clean as possible, strict and rigorous without any slips for 2 weeks. It gets to be too much, I falter, I eat like crap for 2 weeks. I then refocus and go back to eating as clean as possible. I keep repeating this cycle.
Second: I make a plan to eat healthy every meal. As I go through the weeks my goal is to adhere to my plan at least 75% of the time. With this flexibility I’m able to stay positive even through my occasional off plan meals. I get more confident with this 75% number and set new goals to try and reach 80% adherence.
Which scenario will I see the most results long term? The first scenario is textbook yoyo dieting. Studies have shown yoyo dieting causes health problems and often results in worse body composition and heath then when the dieter started. The second scenario allows for the occasional “pizza” moment without the feeling of guilt. It stays positive and doesn’t force unrealistic expectations. It allows your nutritious lifestyle to grow and develop as you learn to become more adherent and better at maintaining your healthy eating. The second scenario emphasizes consistency over the long term.
Consistency is THE magic pill that turns goals into reality. It is how you can achieve the desired changes to your health and body. It is how you maintain those changes after you reach your them. We have our individual goals. Whether it is trying to reach 75% adherence to our nutrition plan like the example above. Or trying eating a serving of vegetables with every meal. The consistency I’m talking about is our ability to make these goals repeatable, no matter what they are. And as we become comfortable building on these goals. Challenging ourselves within our abilities, so that we can grow. So that we can succeed. Challenging ourselves to push our ability but not break our resolve. Our resolve is what will allow us to succeed over time.
If we mess up, thats alright. Don’t stop. Show resolve.