I’ve been meaning to write this article for some time, and I’ve again been prompted after a couple of awesome chats with clients recently – all based around the struggles they experience when trying to stick to dietary recommendations and training programs to achieve their goals.
Let me start by saying this: Motivation gets you started. Habit keeps you going.
But there’s a whole piece missing between motivation and habit. That’s what this article is all about.
When I meet a client for the first time, I never underestimate what it took for them to meet me. Their motivation is high. The result is a very positive and uplifting meeting when goals are set and timelines created.
It’s when we hit the 3 to 4 week stage – that’s when the wheels can start to fall off and it’s all due to existing habits getting in the way of new habits. Let me give you an example. Generally speaking, most of us experience stress or being time poor. (NOTE : Stress and time poor are the two most common excuses when the wheels come off a program). We start to convince ourselves that we ‘need’ a snack or drink because ‘it was a stressful day’. In reality, we’ve just allowed ourselves to have whatever we want, when we want it. We simply default to old habits when things get tough.
Traveling overseas vs a diet plan – The enormity of change
When I was 25, I traveled overseas on a one way ticket, excited at the prospect of life ahead of me (motivation at an all time high). I headed straight to Edinburgh, Scotland. I was there two weeks and hated it. I knew nobody. The only in-depth conversation I had was with people working in banks, post offices, or bars. I wondered what the hell I had done. I missed my friends, my family. There was so much I didn’t expect or consider, moving so far away from home.
I went through, what a therapist would call ‘stages of grief’. Sadness, regret, anger, depression and guilt but eventually I came out the other end and I was ok. I just had to figure it out. As a result, I grew as a person and learnt some life lessons. I created new habits. I adapted to change.
The one thing I couldn’t physically do was jump on a plane when things were getting tough, then go back when I was all good again. If I did that, I’d constantly give myself an excuse to go home. Never growing. Never learning. Never adapting.
This, sadly is the way we approach diets or dietary recommendations.
We start with high levels of motivation but when things get tough, we resort to current habits. Never growing or learning. But we do become really good at creating excuses. 🙂
The difference when traveling overseas is that you are forced to adapt. Your whole environment is different. You don’t get a choice. You figure it out.
The ENORMITY OF CHANGE
When you make the decision to change your diet or training, your environment (friends, family, job, social engagements) stays the same. In fact the ONLY thing changing is you. This is why it’s so hard to stay on track. You’re not forced to adapt, you’re choosing to adapt. Trying to change the path you’re on when nothing else about you or your environment is changing is a massive challenge!!
Whenever we need to adapt to a new environment, (traveling overseas, moving cities, getting married, changing jobs) I believe there are stages of grief we experience when creating new habits. But we always adapt, and we learn and grow as a result.
It’s the same with diets. Think about it. If you’ve ever tried a strict diet, I guarantee there’s been moments where you’ve felt sad at the point of not being able to eat what you want, leading to a feeling of depression. Maybe even anger. Or even guilty that you’ve made the call to not drink with your mates at the pub. If you take the easy path to have that drink or snack in these moments when it gets tough, then you’re effectively not learning from these feelings, you’re giving into them. No matter how convincing your excuses may sound.
I get how tough it is. (If it was easy, there would be no reason for this article). You need a solid support network and you need a structured program outline. More importantly, you need to ditch the excuses and work on getting through the tough moments. You’ll appreciate the outcome at the other end. 🙂
My golden rule for seeing through tough moments
Treat each moment as if you had no choice. Allow zero negotiations with friends encouraging you for ‘one’ drink, ‘one’ piece of chocolate, ‘one’ small piece of pizza. More importantly, don’t negotiate with yourself. “I’ll just have this treat now and work harder tomorrow”.
Use my ‘traveling overseas’ principle. If you don’t have a choice, you’ll simply adapt and you’ll get through it.
If you’re looking for assistance to help get you on track and keep you there, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
To your continues health and fitness,