On the Path to Diet Success: Planning to Fail
Every day I plan to fail at my diet. Crazy, right? It sounds contrary to anything you'd want for your own weight-loss goals, but hear me out first.
MyFitnessPal gives me a daily calorie goal. I follow it pretty closely, planning my meals and snacks to stick right around that goal. And most days, I'm pretty good. It's true, I have a habit of over compensating if I go on a particularly long or hard walk/jog around my neighborhood, but for the most part, I do okay.
Until the days when I don't. Some days—and I expect I'm not alone—I just can't stick to the plan, no matter how hard I try. It's a scoop of ice cream, a handful of Tootsie Rolls, and a brownie kind of day. We won't go into emotional eating and triggers in this post. Do I have those issues? Yes, I think anyone who has struggled with her weight for her entire life does. Part of learning to cope with those "issues" is setting myself up to succeed when those moments of, let's call them "weakness," happen.
I've found three things help me when I find that I'm going to fail:
1) Plan to fail. I keep pre-portioned baggies of chocolate chips, single wrapped squares of chocolate or peanut butter-chocolate cups, and other treats that can help me stop without effort. Sometimes, I realize after my second peanut butter cup that I just need a little moment of zen. The peanut butter cup provides that for me, and I can easily stop because I have them pre-portioned for me. Compared to a never-ending bag of peanut M&Ms, that's how I can succeed when I "fail."
2) Don't set yourself up for failure. Sounds contradictory, right? Well, this may not work for everyone, and I don't advocate depriving yourself. Part of my entire weight-loss philosophy has been to live and let live. In other words, I eat wedding cake at weddings. I eat more if it's really delicious. I drink a glass of red wine with my dinner, and I have a scoop of ice cream if the girls are grabbing some before a movie. If I deprive myself of things, I can't stick to my ultimate goal, which is to find a healthy approach to eating that is structured but not confining. When I give in for a treat, after I've deprived myself for a really long time, I usually fall really, really far off the bandwagon. Balance is better.
3) Keep calm and carry on. It's one day. Failing isn't the end of your diet. It isn't the end of your goals and dreams. It isn't the end of the world. It's one day. And if you find yourself sitting in front of your couch eating your third scoop of Biscotti butter (guilty!), nothing is ruined. Nothing is over. You start again tomorrow, and you do the best you can. Every time you "mess up," you get a fresh start.