You dial in your diet and start a new workout program, and you're feeling good. You're motivated to make a change in your physique and really make it stick this time. You faithfully hit the gym several days a week, and shovel in veggies and protein like it's your job. Your clothes are steadily feeling looser and the scale is going down. Life is good.
It starts with a special dessert at your favorite restaurant (it's a special occasion!). Then work gets a little crazy so you skip a workout, vowing to make it up over the weekend. But this one skipped workout turns into 3 skipped workouts. Then you don't feel like cooking, so you order pizza (but just a few slices! just this one time!). Theeennn you decide that you've been doing sooooo good with the healthy eating and workouts that you deserve a little treat (aka frozen yogurt with ALL the toppings).
And then you start noticing that those once loose clothes are feeling a little snug, and the scale is no longer going in the right direction. Whaaaa?!?!?
I don't know about you, but this scenario is all too familiar. Although this may seem like a personal failing or damning evidence of your character, it's simply an example of a subconscious phenomenon known as moral licensing, and more specifically, using progress as an excuse to take it easy and indulge in goal-sabotaging behavior.
We all do it. And it's all so common when it comes to fat loss and fitness. Making progress feels good. It makes us feel like good people. Like, look how awesome I am for sacrificing all my favorite foods and working so hard! ha.
And successfully utilizing our self-control temporarily satisfies the part of us that wants nothing more than to pursue our goal. Paradoxically, this lowers our drive to keep going. So everything we've been resisting this whole time gets more and more tempting. It's only natural that giving in would feel like an okay thing to do. And we convince ourselves that we deserve it for all of our hard work.
So how do we stop letting our progress make us complacent and sabotage future progress?
Well, instead of focusing on the progress we've made during these times of temptation, we need to make a little mindset shift and ask ourselves:
"How committed do I feel to my goal?"
When we see our progress as evidence that we're committed to our goal, rather than a reason to stop, we put ourselves back into a more rational and determined frame of mind. We need to remind ourselves of our "why," of all the reasons we have for doing what we're doing. And remind ourselves that this is something we actually want to do and keep doing.
It's simple, but it's definitely not easy. But I know you can do it.