Dieting can lead to a vicious yo-yo cycle that can have you swearing to cut out all junk food one day and binging on ice cream the next. Sometimes, it seems the more you try, the harder it is to succeed.
Though it may seem counter-intuitive, sometimes, the best way to get ahead and to finally meet your diet and fitness goals is simply to give in.
When you think about your diet all the time – what you are supposed to eat, what you can’t eat, and what has to happen – you start to put so much pressure on yourself that you may be tempted to eat what you aren’t “supposed to” or to skip going to the gym. The constant thought of your new regime can make you focus too much on temptation, cause you to rebel against it, or just make you feel like you don’t have the mental energy to see it through.
When you stop thinking about all the new “rules” all the time, you feel less pressure and will be more likely to eat in a healthy way. Going to the gym might seem a little more enjoyable. When something seems less like work, it becomes something you are more likely to do.
If someone were to tell you right now that you can never eat a doughnut ever again, what would you do? Chances are you would start to think about donuts – maybe think about them a lot. You will start to think about how delicious they are, how long is has been since you’ve had one, and how impossible a future without those donuts seems. Chances are also good that you would go out and eat a doughnut – or two or three or a dozen.
By not focusing on what you “can’t” have, you are less likely to want to indulge in it. Successful dieters sometimes indulge in treats. If you feel a craving for a do-nut – or any other junk food – or you want to indulge at a party, go ahead and eat the doughnut. Accept that you have permitted yourself an indulgence, and move on. Get back on track later. Don’t beat yourself up for being “bad,” as it will likely lead to more indulgences that will completely derail your diet plan.
Many dieters focus on absolutes. Either food is “good” or it’s “bad.” Either you are sticking to your diet plan or you aren’t. Indulgences are seen as failures. One chocolate bar can indicate the end of the diet, leading the diet to give up completely.
By allowing yourself to let go of these expectations, you leave yourself room to focus on the positive. Instead of talking about what you aren’t doing, you can highlight the ways in which you are succeeding. Maybe you did have a chocolate bar for breakfast, but instead of dwelling on that, you can focus on the delicious salad you had for lunch or the baked chicken and Brussels sprouts you had for dinner. Celebrate your successes and you will feel more encouraged to continue on your healthy journey.
Success doesn’t come quickly, and you can’t change your habits overnight. Putting too much pressure on yourself only sets you up for failure. If you expect to just stop eating all sugar overnight, or only eat whole foods, or never eat saturated fat again, you’ll likely feel frustrated and defeated the first time that you inevitably break one of these rules.
Understanding that healthy dieting and fitness is a process can help you to achieve success. When you eat unhealthy foods or skip a day – or a week – at the gym, you don’t have to feel like a failure. You can recognize that it is part of the process and know that you will keep working through your goals and find more successes in the future.
In many ways, giving in can help you to get ahead with your dieting goals. “Giving in” doesn’t mean giving up – it means to let go of your expectations and all the rules you establish for yourself so that you can focus on establishing new healthy eating patterns in general.
Have you found that giving in has helped you to get ahead and reach your dieting goals? Tell us about it in the comments!
About the Author: Tara Spenser is currently the resident writer for workingcapital.org, where she researches the most affordable small business loan interest rates available. In her spare time, she enjoys blogging, swimming and being a mom.