There is one thing to know about situations that will challenge your attempts to be at a healthy weight – they WILL happen. So, let go of the idea that all will be smooth sailing. Celebrations, friends encouraging you to “Eat”, or eating when stressed are all situations to watch. Here are a few ideas to help you get through your challenging situations.
Know what you want.
Mindset is everything with any behavior change. Know your pros and cons. Why do you want to stay on your healthy eating/weight management plan though temptations and stressors are challenging you? Research from Yale University found that focusing on your short or long term goals activates the rational part of the brain. The rational brain can inhibit the reward center, that not-so-rational part of our brain that is longing for a double hot fudge sundae with extra whipped cream. (You are thinking about ice cream now, aren’t you?)
Know what you DON’T want.
Knowing your “cons” is equally important. If you are telling yourself “I want to lose weight“, but you are also telling yourself, “I don’t want to give up my favorite foods” then your brain doesn’t know which to believe. You are being double-minded. The brain will believe what you tell it, so make sure that you are thinking supportive thoughts.
You can also turn the CONS into PROS. For example, “I can still eat some favorite foods, I just prefer to eat mostly healthy foods“, or “I may find I don’t like the taste of some of those foods as I bring in healthier foods“. Here’s another example, “I have a special event/holiday/vacation coming up so there is no use in trying to lose weight“. How would it feel if you replaced that statement with, “I can plan for the holiday/event/vacation by eating less the day before or after, or by exercising more”?
Plan. Plan. Plan
Speaking of planning, we already know that challenging situations will come up, so what is your plan for handling those challenging times?
You’ve heard the adage, “Don’t go to the grocery store hungry”. Well, that goes for the party, the movie, the restaurant, the out of town trip, or the (put your own challenging situation here). Plan to have a healthy snack before heading to any tempting situation.
Other people can help or hinder. Plan on finding a support person you can go to when you are feeling tempted. We all like to help one another, so let someone be your success tool. Practice how you will ask others for support. If another person is limiting your progress, you may need to practice how to say “no” to that person. Know what you want for yourself and ask others to respect that.
Decide ahead of time how you will manage your environment (not your environment managing YOU).
- Remove comfort foods from your pantry and write a reminder note to exercise instead of eating when stressed.
- Bring a healthy dish that you like to celebrations.
- Try a bit of that food so you don’t hurt a friend’s feelings, but fill your plate with healthier options.
If you handled a difficult situation better than the last time, give yourself credit for making forward progress. Each situation is an opportunity to learn something new.
There aren’t you glad for challenging situations now? What has been your best success so far?