Why can’t you just stick to your diet? Why is it so difficult?
Picture this: You start the newest diet.
So excited to finally become that bikini-ready version of you, you go buy all of the groceries, you make a plan for the week, you even make sure your scale has batteries that are not dead.
You plan to start – tomorrow morning.
The next morning, you start strong. You are motivated. planned, and ready to go. You do this without exception for a whole week. Maybe two. The scale is moving and you feel good about it.
Then something happens. It derails all of your best plans. And, as a weight loss coach and long time family physician, I can almost guarantee you that it is one of the following 3 types of derailments. More on that in a minute.
So, you give yourself a night off, a day off, the weekend off, the rest of the week off, a full week off, until that next holiday is over, until that upcoming vacation is over. Why not wait until the kids are out of school? Oh, might as well wait until they are back in school for the fall now.
Next year will be better – 2020 is a bust, anyway.
And the results of those derailed diet plans…
You end up heavier than you were before you started the diet.
Sound familiar? I’ve been there. So have so many of my weight loss clients.
And the reason for that diet failure is not the diet. The diet didn’t change. Your thoughts about it did. After all, this was a diet you were so excited about. It was a diet that was going to change your life. It was THE diet for success. And the foods did not change a bit. What gives?
What gives is your mind. Our minds are definitely the hardest part to change – not the diet. After all, if we weren’t so emotionally attached to food, any diet would be perfectly fine and easy to implement. Right?
3 Biggest Diet Sabotaging Thoughts
So, let’s take a look at the 3 biggest thought errors I see in my weight loss clients that stop their diet progress:
Why You Really Can’t Stick to Your Diet
Fail #1: I already messed up today, might as well keep going …
The dreaded perfectionist thinking. It’s the exact same reason why you didn’t start the diet until tomorrow or Monday morning to begin with. Because if we aren’t doing it perfectly, we might has well perfectly fail, right? At least something is being done to perfection.
Here’s the problem with perfectionist thinking and weight loss: you have to eat and you are not accustomed to making perfect food choices. There will definitely be times that you simply did not prepare or end up in situations that are not perfect. And we use that as an excuse to go back to what is comfortable.
In the moment, not THAT big of a deal. It’s the next moment that changes everything.
Are you like Hillary?
Let’s look at my weight loss client, Hillary, who has come so far in her weight loss and mind management. Hillary struggled with perfectionist thinking on a weekday-weekend basis.
She would literally eat perfectly during the week and then perfectly fail on the weekends. She would stop eating healthy, stop journaling, stop everything. And the scale would show the difference come Monday morning.
When I asked Hillary why she thought she did this, she replied, “I’m just
lazy.” There was no way I was accepting that. She is not lazy – she lost 16 pounds during her 4 weeks despite COVID and despite her weekend indiscretions. But, it is amazing where our minds go when given the chance for negative thoughts.
The real reason Hillary was “giving up” on the weekends, and the reason so many of us just call it a day after an indiscretion is simply the immense pleasure we assign to eating. On the weekend, Hillary would do all of the things she enjoyed and reward herself for her week. She would watch TV and eat.
I asked Hillary if she regrets her TV watching over the weekend. No. How about your eating? Yes, she regrets that. She feels lazy, like a failure, and frequently apologizes to me.
The Problem with Perfectionist Diet Thinking
Once we have given in a little, our brains light up and say, “More, more, more.” And when we practice perfectionist thinking – meaning we
already failed, today wasn’t perfect anyway – we give ourselves permission to quit for the day.
We give ourselves permission to start again tomorrow when we can be “perfect” again. I challenge my weight loss clients to think of this as their weight loss journey instead. One little set back doesn’t mean that you have to roll all the way back down the hill. Who says you can’t slip up and choose not to make that your story for the day? Only you do.
Drop the perfectionist thoughts and you will end up ahead.
Why You Really Can’t Stick to Your Diet
Fail #2: My husband, my kids, my co-workers were eating it and I wanted to be part of the fun OR I didn’t want to disappoint them…
Oh, my goodness, the number of husband stories I have heard from weight loss clients. I have been there so many times myself. My husband’s favorite inspiring quote is, “You’ve had a hard day. You don’t want to cook. Let’s just grab something.”
And one of my favorite’s is Hillary’s husband. He convinced her that nachos were just corn, oil, and cheese the first weekend she was on plan. She looked at him after she ate a large plate of nachos and said, “You know how I know that isn’t just corn and oil? Because of how I reacted to that.” Great insight – the next week he hid in a bedroom eating cinnamon rolls.
I actually don’t blame husbands, though. Here’s why:
- We have taught them that we enjoy food. They have been through this MANY times for many of us. Yes, they are being stinkers. But, they are simply trying to decrease the inconvenience they have to experience in the meantime and skip to the ultimate fail. Isn’t that what has happened in the past anyway? Why do they need to be inconvenienced?
- If we are waiting for our husband’s to create a perfect environment for weight loss then we are going to be waiting a long time. We have to set standards for ourselves and follow through with those standards – and that will blow your husband’s mind.
Why Do You Need Food to Be Part of the Fun?
It is not your job to please the world with your food consumption. In fact, it is not your job to please the world in general. And becoming the family garbage disposal really helps no one in the end.
Who says you cannot enjoy a little family time while they eat pizza? When you are not so focused on the food you want to eat, you will actually be more present for your family.
Who says you have to eat a treat to make others happy? So many of us struggle with that. There is a simple solution – take it, tell them you will eat it later, and then throw it away. No one will know the difference.
Why You Really Can’t Stick to Your Diet
Fail #3: I can’t stop snacking after the kids go to bed
What a Mom struggle there. This is a BIG one for me, too. My husband puts the baby to bed and frequently falls asleep with her. And that leaves Mom alone in the kitchen wanting to reward herself after a long day.
And that is the exact problem – when you feel that food is the reward for your day. Your reward for a day of just existing that requires food to make you feel better. Ouch. But, isn’t that true for so many of us?
This one is a little more complicated to fix for many of us. There is any easy starting place, though. It needs to start with a review of your day and your relationship with food.
You are exhausted, your day stunk, and you want food to be the answer to your brain saying that things should be better. Consider that for a moment.
Food is the answer for your life? The same food that has caused you to gain weight, feel bad physically, and feel bad about yourself. That’s the answer?
You and I both know that is not the best answer BUT at night, when you are already worn down, you just don’t want to think or feel bad anymore. You aren’t looking for your greater gain – you are looking for a gain in the moment.
There’s 2 Choices to Fix Late Night Snacking:
- Wrap your head around your eating in the moment. You will be much further ahead by taking out a journal and writing the thoughts that go through your head in those moments. What in your brain is turning you to food? It likely is thoughts like, “I deserve this because I made it through the day.” Then ask yourself what about today makes me feel like I deserve food as a reward? Asking nonjudgmental questions and pushing your thoughts will get you much further than the food will. I promise.
- If you are just too tired to think and keep finding yourself in front of the cabinet, simply go to bed. Getting adequate sleep is a rarity for Moms these days. And if your mind is too worn-out to think through your eating, your mind needs rest. Not a food load that will keep you awake hours later and cause weight gain. If you feel guilty because it is too early to go to bed, simply tell yourself that you will get up earlier in the morning. And early morning snacking is typically not a thing. Guess why? Your mind is rested and you are motivated for the day. Not drained.
What about the Diet Itself?
Now, do you wonder how any diet ever worked for you? The diet is the simple part – it’s our relationship with food and our thoughts about it that really make the difference.
Believe me, I spent years as a physician wondering why diets failed for myself and my patients. Now, it is so clear. The willpower will last for awhile and then you need to know how to manage your mind. That’s the true life changer.
If you are interested in more coaching with me, join my Weight Loss for Modern American Moms group by scheduling a consult with me at https://emilyvinzantmd.as.me/schedule.php
For more ways to manage your diet around times of crisis, check out: https://doctormome.com/post/how-to-stop-stress-eating-during-times-of-crisis/