Drawing a line connecting my clients where those who have succeeded and those who are trying to succeed are more aligned, there is one area that many tend to overlook.
Those who have mastered the art of forgiving their dietary detours succeed time and time again.
But you won’t hear much about it because it’s easier to sell things like green tea extracts, ketones, cleanses and thermogenics (fat burners.)
Imagine for a moment walking up to the counter of your favorite supplement store asking “Do you have that new forgiveness supplement? I heard it’s amazing!”
Let’s face it: forgiveness is a little too “woo” for some people to handle.
So, we’ll look at it through a slightly different lens.
If you have been struggling to lose weight, one thing you may be intimately aware of is that if you eat something you “shouldn’t”, it can be followed by a degree of guilt and shame that then leads to more patterns of eating what you “shouldn’t.” I focus on the world “shouldn’t” for a reason.
When we place the word should or should not in the framework of the diet, it reflects a belief in good or bad. In other words, I should eat broccoli because it’s good for me. I shouldn’t eat doughnuts because they are bad.
This is where the problems come into play. Nothing evil happens to you when you eat a doughnut. There is no maliciousness or devious behavior at play. In the same respect, the diet angels don’t come down from the heavens and throw confetti on you when you eat your broccoli.
You are always one bite away from a more productive decision. People can succeed on their diets with doughnuts. Not all people, mind you, but it can and is done successfully (hint: calories.)
The “trick”, if you will is being able to look at your food choices on a spectrum of getting you closer to or further from your goals.
The fact of the matter is that your lifestyle and the events of any given day or week of your life don’t give a damn about your goals. It is simply “life.” Once we remove our emotions and our expectations from the conversation, we can focus on our choices and say “I have the tools to achieve this.”
Here are four tools to get you started.
Step One) Focus on the meals that you know you can control. That can include meal prep once or twice a week or establishing something of a consistent routine with your eating behaviors. Variety can be the death knell to many trying to lose weight. As a result, too many available options can be paralyzing and take your eye off the prize.
Step Two) Realize that the stars will not perfectly align for your diet. You will have many opportunities to let life get in the way of your goals. THIS IS NORMAL. You are not broken or a failure because life became stressful or chaotic.
Step Three) The moment that your diet does not go EXACTLY the way you want, take a moment, breathe, and tell yourself specifically that it is OKAY. Be forgiving of whatever choice you made that was not in line with what you wanted to do. Your very next bite (or lack thereof) can change your trajectory. If you truly cannot control yourself at that particular meal, this is also okay (and very likely also normal.) Your next meal will be the opportunity to get back on track.
Step Four) Repeat the process. The only way to make a pattern stick is to continue repeating it. Hoping for more willpower won’t work. Dreaming of having more motivation than yesterday won’t work either. This is one of the most unglamorous and least sexy aspects of succeeding at your goals. You will establish more consistency with:
1) Calorie controlled/planned meals
2) Removing the expectations of perfection
3) Forgiveness in the moment
4) Repeating the process
Realize this dilemma affects men and women in equal measures. Both are fully capable of letting one counter-productive meal choice turn into an all-out binge. I can assure you that even my clients who have seen successful weight loss still reach moments where they forget to utilize this process. Sometimes it takes a realignment of values to remind them that this is a lifelong process if you not only want the weight to come off but stay off as well.
And I should also mention, that unlike all of those aforementioned supplements you might be tempted to buy and try, forgiveness is 100% FREE.