And now your peanut butter jar barely lasts a week.
It's a slippery slope.
I have done this soooo many times in the past. I'd be nice and lean and really liking what I saw in the mirror, and my clothes were fitting great and even a bit loose. But then I'd get complacent and start adding in extra snacks after dinner, a few glasses of wine on the weekends, and more starches into my meals.
I'd keep lying to myself that I was still maintaining, that I could still see my abs. As if a caloric surplus would instantly be visible, and if it didn't, that meant I was still "okay" with my eating. Wishful thinking. I probably sound like a complete idiot, right? But we all do this. We justify our food choices and skipping the gym with every rationalization under the sun --- It's the weekend! I've been good all week! It's just this one time! I had a tough workout and need extra carbs!
And then there's the "special occasions." That's one of the biggest temptations, amiright? So much food just sitting out the whole time, calling your name....
But here's the thing --- every other day could be a special occasion. There's National Donut Day and Cookie Day and Pancake Day and whatever day nearly every day of the year. There are a ton of holidays --- New Year's, Valentine's Day, St. Patrick's Day, Easter, Spring Break, Cinco de Mayo, Mother's Day, Memorial Day, Father's Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.
That's a major holiday pretty much every single month throughout the year. And some months have two. And don't forget birthdays, anniversaries, girls weekends away, vacations, festivals, concerts, and on and on. So if we keep giving ourselves a pass on indulging because it's a holiday, then we are in big trouble, results-wise.
Inconsistency is the biggest killer of results.
If we keep using the special occasion rationale, we'll never get anywhere. This is an example of a "loophole," or things that give you an "out" when you're trying to be disciplined while trying to make a change.
And there's all kinds of daily, ordinary loopholes that can derail us and keep us spinning our wheels and frustrated with the process:
I'm tired after a stressful day at work
I'm so busy, I just don't have time
I'm just not motivated today
I've been good all week with my diet and exercise
It's just one glass/slice/serving
I've been working hard, I deserve a treat
(Do any of these sound familiar?)
The thing that we fail to do (and I am certainly guilty of this as well!) is to plan ahead for these things. We just assume that we'll somehow have the willpower and discipline tomorrow or a week from now or a month from now. We think that we'll figure it out in the moment. We're so dedicated to our goals that temptation will have no hold on us! We're sticking with it this time, no matter what! This is the lie we tell ourselves.
But the thing is, we will never be 100% motivated 100% of the time. We're not robots. Life will throw a wrench in our plans over and over. We'll get injured or the kids will get sick or work will get crazy or we'll struggle to fit our workouts in our busy schedules. We know this. But yet we never seem to actually plan for it. We just put it off onto Future Us to deal with.
So let's change that. Let's set ourselves up for success when we will need it most. Let's come up with some reasonable solutions that will require the least amount of willpower and energy to get us through those loopholes so they don't wreck our results:
Think of potential pitfalls that you'll most likely face, or things in the past that have been issues or obstacles.
Come up with at least one tactic (preferably more) for each that you can default to when you're actually in that situation. It's difficult to come up with a solution on the fly when you're in the thick of the situation, let alone execute it. It takes a lot of mental energy that you may not have.
Execute those strategies and stick to the plan.
Here are some examples:
Too tired after stressful day at work to exercise --> Change into your workout clothes and just try 10 minutes and see how you feel. If you're still feeling super fatigued, stop there. But you may be surprised how many times you actually feel energized after 10 minutes and can carry on further. On the flip side, can you do a R & R activity (yoga, hot bath, stretching, etc.) for rejuvenation instead?
Jam-packed schedule --> Schedule workouts ahead of time so that the time is blocked off and the choice already made. Review your schedule and prioritize the most important things that are aligned with your values. See if there's something that can be put off or delegated. Or fit in a quick yet intense 10-20 minute workout like the Fast Fit challenges I post on Instagram (and posted on the website here.) Another option I mentioned in the last post: break up your workout into manageable pieces throughout the day. Keep that momentum going.
Soooooo not motivated --> Remind yourself of your "why" behind your goals. Break out new workout clothes or add new music to your ipod. Tell yourself that you'll only make yourself do 10 minutes. And after those 10 minutes, see how you feel. If you're truly feeling burned out, then a break might a good thing. But if not, add 5 more minutes, and then another if you're still feeling good.
Make your workout fun or a game. Call up a friend to run sprints and race each other for a little friendly competition and social time. Try out a new class at the gym or a DVD at home.
There's no food in the house --> Don't wait until you're in the moment, starving and tired, willpower battery on empty. Have a list of take-out options that are healthy, like Zoe's Kitchen, Chipotle (hold the rice and beans, easy on the guac), a grilled chicken sandwich (minus the bun) at most fast food places, Chinese (hold the rice, add steamed veggies, light sauce on the side, protein that is not fried or breaded), rotisserie chicken and pre-cut veggies at the grocery store, Whole Foods/other grocery store salad bar, grilled protein and steamed veggies from a "sit-down" chain restaurant. There are a plethora of options if you take the time to look.
Another option: keep a few pantry and freezer staples to squeeze out a quick meal (it doesn't have to be gourmet!), like canned tuna, frozen veggies and meats, low-carb tortillas, homemade meals made ahead of time and frozen, hardboiled eggs, bagged lettuce, and canned soup. None of these options have to be perfect. But if the alternative is ordering a pizza and inhaling half of it because you're hangry, then good enough is good enough, right?
It's a special occasion --> Plan ahead of time what holidays and occasions mean the most food-wise to you. Which meals are the most satisfying and feature foods that you only get to have on that day, like Grandma's amazing pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving or your aunt's world-class sweet potato casserole at Christmas? Whatever is going to bring you the most joy to indulge in, that's what you want to go for.
And then pick those times when you don't really feel the need to go overboard to enjoy the day. Again, make the choice ahead of time and then stick with it. At the Independence Day barbecue, do you really need to have a serving of all of the desserts and a burger and chips and dip and potato salad? These are all foods that you can have at any time of the year, right? There will always be chips at the grocery store and burgers anywhere you go, so is there really anything special about them? If you do indulge, how will you feel afterwards? How will it affect your results? Is it worth it?
I'm not saying that you need to map out your entire year, just take a look at the next 3-4 months and be mentally prepared.
Like anything else, this process takes some practice. You may try something out and it fails or backfires. That's okay. It's just feedback. Analyze it. What worked, and what didn't? What can you do differently?
Take the "good enough" approach and do your sincere best. Don't let perfect be the enemy of good, so you don't let loopholes kill your hard-fought results.
What is your most difficult loophole? What tactics are you going to try to overcome it?