There was a post I saw on Instagram recently that made me laugh, mostly because it was pretty true and rather accurate;
When I fall off of the 'healthy wagon' it goes a little something like this:
- I'll be incredibly dedicated in going to the gym and eating healthily, cutting out snacks, doing meal preps and going to bed at a decent hour.
- Then someone offers me a biscuit or a piece of cake (or a wedge of cheese, I can never say no to cheese!).
- Before I know it all of the planned vegetables, fruit and lean meat I was due to eat has been put on the back burner.
- I say to myself 'well I'm down the rabbit hole now' and proceed to have a day of giving into all the sugary and sweet snacks, chow down on a pizza, and most likely some ice-cream too.
As you can see, there are definitely times when I do exactly as the caption above says.
Ahhh, that poor village.
I'll hedge my bets that this type of habitual cycle is something most of us can slip into quite often if we aren't careful. It's not only related to our eating habits; you can be really focused and on top of all areas of your life until one thing slides it feels like the rest comes crashing down with it, just like a house of cards.
For me, once I have an off day and start cheating with unhealthy snacks, that can end up throwing my routine off until Sunday night (because apparentely you can only start getting yourself back on the straight and narrow on Mondays right?). This will normally happen if I haven't done any meal prep and bulk cooking. If I'm not eating properly I tend not to go to the gym as it feels like pointless exercise. In turn, through not exercising, this makes me feel lethargic and I don't feel energised and focused to stick to other tasks I set myself. I then end up faffing about and staying up late watching random TV shows or films and go to bed really late. The following morning I wake up feeling really tired and end up snacking on unhealthy food throughout the day.....and so the cycle continues.
On those days I frequently find myself saying 'I'll get back on it properly tomorrow and be good'.
- That word 'tomorrow' has started to rear its ugly head again. If you need a reminder of its danger read I’ll Stop Saying I Will Do It Tomorrow, Tomorrow.
- The problem with saying you're only 'on schedule' when you're 'being good' is that it's a detrimental phrase. It gives no leeway for if you allow yourself to have that one biscuit, as you've deemed that as not 'being good'....but isn't 'being bad' either. The language of 'good' and 'bad' is incredibly polarising. It leaves no room for balance and moderation of actions. These words will be the most likely culprit for actions resembling that of a pendulum swing. For example, you deny yourself chocolate for two weeks, and then you inadvertently take up the offer of eating a small piece of chocolate at work and then proceed to binge on an entire family bar when you get home that evening.
In the short tem, a strict 'can & can't have' diet plan of foods can help kick start some weight loss to then motivate you to keep going. Yet in the long-term this is an incredibly hard way to maintain a healthy lifestyle and eating pattern. Subsequently, it makes 'eating a village' much more likely to occur on a regular basis.
Yet how can the example of not eating properly then go on to affect everything else you could be doing that day, week, or even months? Before you know it half the year could have passed and you're looking back and wondering why you haven't been to the gym since March, why you haven't read that book that's been sat on your bedside table for the last two months, and why you haven't done research for that course you said you wanted to start doing in September. The list can keep going on.
One way to start unpicking this tangled web of 'things you should be doing but aren't' is to work backwards from your main frustration(s):
Perhaps below might be similar to the string of questions and answers you give yourself:
- I haven't applied for that course I really want to go on - why?
- I'm not getting my research and reading done in the evening that I want to - why?
- Because I'm watching TV for two-three hours every evening at the moment - why?
- Because I'm shattered after a long day at work and with the children, and don't want to do anything in late evenings except lie on the sofa - why?
- Because I haven't been going to sleep at a reasonable time - why?
- Because I've been waking up late, and so going to bed later - why?
- Because my body feels its lacking in energy to get me up in the morning - why?
- Because I'm not exercising at any point throughout the week - why?
- Because I'm not eating properly so see exercise as a bit of a waste of time.
If you work up from number 9 (which is just an example and your end answer will most likely will be different to this one) and start dealing with the root issues at the lower half of the list first you'll be much more likely to then start actioning the top half.
I applied this thought process to myself and discovered the baseline structure I need for the likelihood of having a good week being increased is:
- Prepping my meals and bulk cooking in advance.
- Going to bed early.
If these two things are done consistently, everything else seems to stay on track with much more ease. I have more sleep and energy to get up in the early morning and work, which I have recently discovered is when I'm most productive. Preparing my meals means I'm less likely to want to snack, and this motivates me to want to go to the gym (whilst still allowing myself to have chocolate if I want - although within moderation).
Why Am I Sharing This With You?
If any of the above resonates with you, ask yourself the following questions:
- What does your house of cards look like?
- What is on the top, middle, and bottom layers?
- What normally makes your entire house fall down?
- What effects does this have on the rest of your life?
- What words do you find yourself frequently saying to yourself? Is there a better way to reframe them?
- What do you want to change in creating a stronger house?
- What are the first couple of steps you can take to work towards achieving this?
- How are you going to hold yourself accountable for doing them?
If you want to continue reading about the topic of habits, my blog post Why Your New Year’s Resolutions Don’t Last goes into more detail around how they're formed, and a few handy tips of ways to create new ones.
*If you would like information on the Business & Personal Coaching services that I offer and pricings, please do go to my Coaching Services page or email me via my Contact page.