“Chews” to Succeed!

If there is one insidious behavior I see over and over again in nutrition counseling, it is self-sabotage. It is exemplified by tendrils of doubt, guilt and fear, which serve only to uproot the healthiest behaviors of even my most organized and knowledgeable of clients.

Although it is a re-occurring topic on our nutrition podcast, TV spots, and every day with my clients, with the holiday season approaching, I knew had to write about it. I cannot repeat it enough. A necessary reminder to create awareness in each and every person who creates opportunities to fail over and over again.

Only you can stop the tide of choosing to fail.

Awareness of self-sabotage isn’t easy. Yet, it’s the most important step to success in any lifestyle change you are seeking.

Do you want to increase your exercise and stick with it? Eat more vegetables and fruit and less processed foods? Lose 35 pounds and keep it off? It matters not. The only saboteur of long-term change is YOU. You are the only element in your way.

Your own negative thoughts are senseless, illogical messages you formulate in your mind. They are of your own creation. When you accept outlandish and untrue suppositions as “truth”, those false “truths” become your reality. The result: you fail to make meaningful, life-long changes.

Often, it is the combination of two negative emotions: impatience and self-flagellation.

Impatience. Wanting to have a new relationship with food, exercise and your body without having to “put the time in.” Without having to work at it for more than a few days before the pounds are melting off. Ok, do I exaggerate? Fine, you want to see striking results in two weeks! Yes? If it takes longer, it is not “working fast enough.” There is your out, and it is your time to give-up. Really?

Self-flagellation. Usually referred to as “beating yourself up.” It leads to guilt and shame, therefore, it is nothing but a dead end. It leads you right back to your old behaviors simply because you had a “cheat” you didn’t plan, ate too much junk food or consumed a portion that was too large. So what!? Get over it, and choose to plan your next meal of clean, healthy whole food. You know what to do. Put away the whip, release the guilt. It serves you not. Get over yourself.

How badly to you want it? Bad enough to “do something you’ve never done before” and continue to do it 85% of the time? Long enough that the behavior is causing you to lose weight slowly over time so the weight loss and inch loss stays off?

If you find yourself using as an excuse over and over: “I went on vacation and blew it,” or “I ate ‘bad’ all weekend,” somehow your mind becomes convinced that “it’s over.” It’s all or nothing thinking, as if you are eight-years-old. Your mind feeds you that insidious message, “you might as well give-up, don’t even try anymore.”

This is particularly significant with Halloween, Thanksgiving and the rest of the winter holiday season around the corner. It’s like I and every other nutritionist out there is having a recurring nightmare: we know what’s going to happen, we can see it clearly, but are helpless to stop it. That is, unless we can help people understand the thoughts they have that set it all in motion.

If you end up eating Halloween Candy all weekend, or your one “cheat meal” on Thanksgiving turns into an indulgent four-day food bender, that does not give you an “out” to not keep a food log on the Monday “morning after” and start your week with a breakfast of eggs and oatmeal. Nor does it give you a pass not to pack your lunch or stop by the grocery store to purchase your healthy food for the week on Sunday. That evil little voice whispers to you, “After all, you weren’t perfect on your plan (eating, exercise, whatever) so give it up!” That thinking is clearly ridiculous, outrageous and makes no sense when applied to anything else in life. I’ll prove it to you.

Example: if your child is flunking a class halfway through the semester, do you tell him, “Don’t even try to do any homework from this point on. After all, you had a bad several months, so I won’t hold you responsible for anything from here going forward.” Of course you would not say this; the scenario is beyond ridiculous. However, that is exactly what you do when you give up after eating poorly or missing workouts for a few days, weeks or even several months.

Anything in life that is has worth requires hard work and day-to-day diligence. Earning a degree, improving a relationship with a spouse or family member, obtaining a new job or raise. It’s something you expect to constantly work at. You don’t say, “Gee, my brother (boss, spouse, girlfriend, parent, friend) and I had an argument again. I guess I’ll just never speak to him again.” It is the same mental process to change how we eat and experience exercise. However, such nonsensical thinking seems to be accepted, status quo. We allow both ourselves and one another to simply “get away with it.”

Get out of your own way. How?

Replace the guilt and shame by focusing on the meals and snack you do eat as planned, the workouts you did complete, the restaurant meal you did order under 650 calories, the vegetables and fruits you did purchase and ate.

Focusing on what you do want allows you to create more of those behaviors that make you a long-term success.

Now, go grocery shopping and plan your workouts for the week… all throughout the holiday season.

About Romy Nelson
Owner and operator of Essential Fitness, Inc., Romy is a nutritionist, media consultant and author. Her main goal is to teach individuals how to make long-term lifestyle changes, and break free from unhealthy eating patterns and the cycle of yo-yo dieting

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