The Road to Hell is Paved with Good Intentions: a.k.a. Starting Your Diet
YAY! You read my story, saw my pictures, realized how fat and wrong you’ve been, and now you’re ready to start your diet. And you’ll definitely stick with it this time, and you’ll definitely get the body you’ve always wanted. And rainbows and sunshine will literally shoot out of your ass and solve all the world’s problems. Get freaking real!
Why do we fail at diets? Because they are hard? Um no. They are not hard; they are, at times, moderately uncomfortable and inconvenient, but not hard. Whenever I told people I was going paleo, they all would say the same thing, “Ooh 30 days without cheese?? OMG, that’s so hard. I could never do that.” Really? You think that’s hard? Time to gain some perspective.
One can Google “How to be successful at a diet,” and I’m sure one of the rules is “set small achievable goals.” Um, I’m sorry but doing a diet and sticking to it is a seriously small and achievable goal to begin with. Once again, a little perspective. Kicking heroin is hard. Beating cancer? That’s hard. Running a marathon with no legs? Hard. Not eating bread? Not hard. Not at all. Perspective.
Your whole day is a series of tiny seemingly insignificant choices. You wake up. Do you wake up an hour early to work out or do you sleep in? Choice. Do you fix a healthy, delicious, all-natural breakfast or rush out the door, grab a bagel or something even worse, like a doughnut? Choice. You decide what you will and will not do. No one else decides for you. NO ONE puts a gun to your head and says, “EAT THE DOUGHNUT.” So when people talk about slipping up on a diet I always say, “Slip? Did you slip and fall and your mouth landed on those french fries?” No. You made a choice. You decided in that moment that your goal was not worth your impulse. And then you beat yourself up over it. But not enough to not do it again. Why do we do this?
I think it has something to do with neurological pathways or something. We are creatures of habit and conditioning. Our bodies only do what we tell them to. We are born machines made to work a certain way, and somewhere along the way, we mess it up. Now it needs to be corrected, and you need to relearn how you operate. You didn’t slip up. You chose to give up.
So how do you make this time successful? I don’t know honestly. I don’t know you or what your weaknesses are, but I’ll tell you what I did to be successful, and hopefully it will help you.
Preparation: Go to the grocery store and buy all of your food for seven days. On Sunday cook everything and put it in to-go containers. Not having something to eat should not be an excuse. I’ve gone as far as leaving my debit card at home so that I’m not even tempted to get anything else. Prepare and you will stand a greater chance of not making the wrong decision. Also? Bag of nuts or fruit. Always have a snack. Once I got caught without a snack and it was not good. Almost cheated. Called my friend and she talked me down. Which brings me to my next point. Accountability.
Tell everyone you know or see or talk to, you are about to change your diet. EVERYONE. Or in my case start a blog. It is amazing how much we will fight for a promise we made to others as opposed to one we made to ourselves. We can give up in the privacy of our own lives, but knowing you let everyone down who was counting on you? For some reason it raises the stakes.
One moment at a time. If you think, “Ok, I have to go 30 days full out” you will probably fail. Who can even say what is going to happen in 30 days? No one. One meal at a time. Start with breakfast and go from there. Just take every moment to make the right choice. Moment to moment. Ya know, just like life.
Congratulate yourself. When you get through a whole day without cheating, give yourself a giant pat on the back. People use food as rewards most of the time so now you need to reset your brain and just take pleasure in the simple fact that you did something right and the reward is that you’re healthier, skinnier and generally better for it. The decision itself is the reward and you definitely need to give yourself a little credit. Celebrate small victories by reflecting on what you did. Tell people how you resisted temptation. Over time you will start to retrain your brain to feel good about good choices. Duh.
Support system. I live by myself. I make my food for myself, and I answer to no one but myself. I realize that is not always the case and it’s the biggest problem people run into. I’m going paleo or clean, but my husband/wife/bf/gf/kids are not. Am I supposed to make separate meals? Um, yeah you are. You are doing this for them, remember? Quality of life? Preventing cancer and chronic illness? You think your significant other won’t appreciate you being a happier person? They will, and when they see the change they will follow suit. Oh and as far as the kids go? Lay down the law. You’re the parent and they shouldn’t be eating that crap anyways.
Look, I’m not by any means an expert, and I haven’t done studies on this crap. I have read A LOT of literature, and I have tried and failed a lot. Let me repeat that. I failed A LOT. But I made the choice to do so. I decided and I paid for it. All my tiny insignificant decisions added up to me being fat and hating myself. Just like all my tiny insignificant decisions added up to me getting my life back and becoming happier and better. I still fail folks. I still mess up. It’s a process and you have to know you are not perfect but you are not a total failure either. So get it together, get a plan, execute. If you find yourself in an ice cream or french fry situation or both simultaneously? I’ll talk you down.
Again, love your honesty. And yes, Parents should lay down the law. My kids are now getting used to hearing “No, I won’t buy that. It has too much sugar.” Gotta start somewhere.
What a great article! Paleo is becoming more “palatable” the more I read your articles and learn from your methods. I agree with Kira, your honesty is refreshing!