“Breakdowns can create breakthroughs. Things fall apart so things can fall together.” ~Unknown
Everytime I read about a success story in health and nutrition, it always seems like the person claims instant victory. One day they woke up, signed up for a program and it's been nothing but sweet success. One day they were overweight and the next week they were on a cover of a magazine. I think the idea that you will make it to your goal in a linear fashion creates a lot of unnecessary angst and frustration. Everytime I sign up a client it seems that the next day they are attending a party with lavish petit-fours made by elves, irresistible chocolate macaroons and gallons of their favorite hazelnut gelato fresh in from Italy. Or, a giant snow storm comes their way knocking out power leaving them with only a 2 pound bag of M &M's and 7 Hershey Bars since someone wiped out all the healthy bread and milk. Or worse, they heard that didn't have to change their diet, break a sweat but thanks to a magical fruit on the tiny island, they can now melt fat. Thanks Dr. Oz.
Your body is more complex than that. Also in behavioral change, you have to pass through a couple of stages before something becomes a habit. There are several distinct phases for how that happens and it's something I teach my clients. So, in my book, set-backs are normal and to be expected. The key is how you look at the setback. If you are going to engage in a bunch of damaging self-talk about how stupid you were, your setback grows exponentially as you beat yourself down. As a friend and client said "If one of your tires was slashed, would you go slash the other three?" The reality is that was yesterday and there isn't a whole lot you can do about it. It does help to think about what happened. Did you get caught in a meeting without eating which launched giant sugar crash? Did you turn to food when you really needed to talk to a friend or take a break from a project? What really happened is more important than what you didn't do right.
What's most helpful is to listen to your body. If after a planned or unplanned setback, you know that eating certain foods didn't really serve you, then you have made progress. I have a couple of tactics for getting back my own body back on track. FYI they don't include ice chips and sweet and low. (I had a friend who would eat tubs of fat free cool whip to satisfy her sweet cravings... Trust me, I have seen it all.) First, you need to get super hydrated. A lot of cravings and imbalances come from not enough water. Don't skip meals in an attempt to make up for yesterdays sins. My best recovery plan starts with a big green juice with cucumber, celery, flat parsley, half an apple and some ginger. My body wants the nutrients, enzymes and minerals. Get good, clean protein, some produce and some fat at every meal. Move. Even 20 minutes is better than nothing. Stuck inside? There are about a million total body workouts that require no equipment. I can come up with a great work out with a jump rope, a weighted ball and a 15lb dumbbell. Do something to actively de-stress: meditate, do some deep breathing, dry-brush your body, journal. Set your intentions for TODAY without nursing any regrets over yesterday. Reframe your setback into a learning experience. I promise the next time, if you retain even one of the tools I just mentioned you will come through the next set-back (and there will be one) a little stronger and a little more resilient.
Mary is a health coach with a specialization in auto-immune issues, thyroid/hormonal balance, long term weight loss.