There is much speculation about why the fail rate for New Year’s resolutions is so high, but regardless, most resolutions that are made are doomed to fail. Unfortunately, for those who’s resolution is to lose weight, the result of failure is denying yourself some of the life-improving (and likely life-extending) benefits associated with achieving and maintaining a healthy weight.
Often, when people slip on a diet, or “fall off the wagon”, it becomes a slippery slope towards resuming old habits. We have all been there: two days into a new diet, there’s a work party, a social gathering or a family get-together. Sweet treats abound, or you have a few glasses of wine, and that pizza is just too tough to resist.
For many, one slip-up leads to a feeling of failure, which leads many to ultimately abandon their goal, altogether. This diet-disaster-domino-effect has likely ruined more diets––and New Year’s resolutions––than anyone would care to admit. It is very easy for one mistake to reframe our entire attitude towards our diet and sense of self worth. Do not let that happen this year. There is a line in Christopher Nolan’s Batman movies when Bruce Wayne’s dad asks the young Bruce, “Why do we fall down?” Bruce’s dad’s answer to his own question was, “So we can learn to pick ourselves back up.”
1. If You Fail, Pick Up Where You Left Off.
Everyone makes mistakes. Failure, mistakes, stumbling blocks, they are all part of life, and our diet is no different. No one eats a perfectly 100% of the time, despite what the social media accounts of celebrities and fitness gurus would have you believe. If you make a mistake, do not let it derail your entire health goal. Start right back with your next meal.
2. Forgive Yourself.
Many people simply beat themselves up too much over simple mistakes. Let it go. Forgive yourself and move on. No one is perfect. Get over it and keep going.
3. Work towards 80/20.
Changing your diet often requires a period of intense restriction; this is good for a number of reasons. It retrains you to become more conscious about what you are eating. It will accelerate the initial results you experience. It will allow your tastes to change in a positive way. We know that we need to forgive ourselves and pick up right where we left off. Intense restriction however, is not necessarily a long term solution. With that in mind, after a period of intense restriction (for example, 4-6 weeks on Kaufmann 1 of the Kaufmann Diet) many people aim for the 80/20 rule, where 80% of the time your diet is very strict, and 20% of the time, it is slightly more lax.
Ultimately, developing good habits is about finding what works for you. But it is important to remember that restriction is not necessarily the long-term goal, or should not be. Developing good habits should be your ultimate goal.
4. Keep Your Eyes On the Prize.
Remember that you can do this. You can. Anyone can. You are in control of your own weight, and largely your own health. You have the opportunity to make smart, educated decisions about what you eat and the lifestyle you live. And, remember that the benefits of making positive, healthy lifestyle changes far outweigh the temporary sating of cravings.