It was a Sunday, and I had just completed my most recent weights/HIIT home workout program, where I was working out 5 times a week, 25 minutes a day. I finished the last workout and gave myself an imaginary pat on the back. The 10 weeks had been hard work. There were times when I couldn't keep up with the trainer on the screen. But I modified when I found it hard and stuck to the plan as best I could.
My nutrition was good but not 'perfect'. For example, I could have eaten cleaner and leaner for sure. I'm not one of these that can live off chicken and rice for 10 weeks (well, to be honest flirt between pescatarianism, vegetarianism and veganism, so chicken is out of the picture for me either way!) and I did drink alcohol on the weekends. And for me, 'good' is okay. I wanted to have the freedom to eat balanced, and what I mean balanced is, if I want to have the cake, then I'll have the cake, okay?! I'm a big believer in being a mindful eater and what I mean by that is eating as well as I can 80% of the time, and the rest of it.. Well, let's say, if I want cake, or a G&T then I'll have it.
There is a temptation that as soon as we have completed something and we are out of 'training', be it completing a "30 Day Challenge", a "7 Day Detox" or indeed a home workout program that we pat ourselves on the back and go and treat ourselves to a slap up 3-course meal… with wine… and maybe some cake the next day… and well, heck, it's now Thursday and might as well wait until Monday to start something new or get back to the gym! Maybe our 80% healthy lifestyle does a 180 and becomes 20%... Or maybe we go back to our old habits. I think of this process as a kind of self-sabotage. I guess it comes from the whole effort and 'reward' mentality; "I just completed XYZ so now I deserve to kick back for a while and reward myself with a cheat day/weekend/week…". And it becomes very easy to unpick all of the hard sweat and effort that has gone into all the weeks that have passed.
According to Psychology Today - "Behaviour is said to be self-sabotaging when it creates problems and interferes with long-standing goals. Some of the most common self-sabotaging behaviours include procrastination and comfort eating. These acts may seem helpful in the moment, but they ultimately undermine us, especially when we engage in them repeatedly.
It's easily done as we can often fall under the spell of the "7, 14 or 30 Day Plan" - it sounds so enticing! We all want that quick-fix. The thing that's going to deliver the best results in the quickest time. We've all done it. I'VE DONE IT! And sure, you can get some results pretty quick with some of these things. Even if you follow a home workout program and eat well, you will get results in a short period of time if you stick to it. But what about after the 7, 14 or 30 days have finished?
I'm also very familiar with the 'eating the kids leftovers' sabotage… if you inhale the chicken nuggets whilst clearing the table, and walking around, then technically they don't count, right?
I'm guessing what I'm driving at is, what is the REAL reason you want to be healthier? If it's a quick fix for an event or a holiday, are you saying you are happy to be unhealthy and undo your results once you've hit you goal or the event has come and gone. Because that is not an act of self-love, it's an act of self-sabotage and a cycle of yo-yo dieting. Your body won't be thankful for the back and forth.
Understanding your motivations for why you want to be healthier are the key to successfully making the moves needed to become healthier, and to KEEP making them once the novelty or program has finished. By motivations, I mean, WHY is it important for you to be healthier/lose weight/eat better? What will happen for you if you do this? Equally important, what will happen if you don't do anything and you continue as you are? How will you feel about yourself if you make the changes? What will be the impact on your perception of yourself and what you are capable of?
I think it's also really important at this stage to be really upfront and acknowledge what you are going to struggle with when making changes to your lifestyle. What will the barriers be? Will it be a busy work schedule or family life that makes it difficult to find time to work out? Will it be that you go out every week with the girls on a drinking session? Will it be family members who may not be supportive and embrace the changes that you want to make? Or is it that the weekends become 2 days of total indulgence and you have to 'restart' every Monday? By addressing these challenges up front, and thinking ahead of time how you can navigate them (because they WILL happen) you are setting yourself up for success.
What if you could be healthier, move more and eat better and that it was so manageable that it was easy to incorporate that into your everyday life, so it became part of who you are? So that you were never on a "program" for a certain number of weeks, but you were in a constant, evolving state of self-love, honour and respect for your body. So that it wouldn't just be about how you looked in 30 days time, but how you FEEL in 30 years time… now that is where the real magic happens.