I state this every weekday around 6pm right before indulging in that deep-fried fast food meal while out with friends. Weekends are a write-off from the start. I diet to keep up with the healthy lifestyle trend and began my attempt to tone approximately five years ago. Since then I have lost a whopping five pounds and two percent body fat. Yes that was sarcasm.
We all take comfort in knowing we are not alone in our defeated diet habits. That is until you log onto Facebook and stumble upon that one girl from high-school who used to be a bit on the pudgy side, but is now completely fat-free in her ultra skinny jeans. How did she do it? Talk to her and she’ll give you the same story: eat healthy and exercise!
So what is the difference between your old high school buddy and us? The answer lies in their commitment, dedication and their mastery over procrastination.
Procrastination is likely at the root of our unhealthy food binge relapses, but before we get to that, it is important to first set appropriate diet goals.
Be smart about it
Dieting and staying fit is a goal. The key to forming healthy lifestyle goals is to follow the principles of “SMART”:
1. Specific: “lose ten pounds by August” is a well-defined goal
2. Measurable: in our case, measuring weight, body fat percentage, and inches are ideal
3. Achievable: consider whether this goal is something you really want to do and not something you feel you “should do” (pressure from your parents to lose weight in order to be “marry-able”). You are more likely to be motivated towards a goal that is internally rewarding.
4. Realistic: unrealistic goals can be discouraging. I suggest NOT using your old Barbie Doll as your target figure – science does not support this body type.
5. Time-based: set start dates and evaluation “end” dates (e.g. vacation/birthday), frequently measure your progress to enhance motivation and commitment.
Now that you have your goals in order, what’s still holding you back? Procrastination is a major challenge to our healthy eating goals. Attack your procrastination by targeting your excuses: assess all procrastinating thoughts relating to your diet.
For me, some common excuses include “I have too much work to do” and “there’s nothing healthy in my fridge.” Sound familiar right? Now come up with solutions for each excuse. Some tips may include scheduling a grocery run in your weekly agenda.
Behavioural patterns and triggers
Recognize your unhealthy behavioural patterns and manage your triggers. In my case, evening/weekend binges and eating out with friends at fast food restaurants. Scheduling and planning my meals would be useful: opting for a healthy meal before heading out when I know everything but the menu itself will be deep-fried. Plan! Write down your specific schedule and plans and post them in your room along with a reminder of your personal reasons for dieting.
Don’t forget to incorporate exercise into your schedule as dieting alone is not enough for optimal results.
Overcome your procrastination for healthy dieting by setting appropriate goals, assessing your destructive thoughts and behaviours, and forming solutions and plans to target them.
So the next time you go in for a bite of that Big Mac and you hear that voice in your head say you’ll start again tomorrow: be smart and put down that Big Mac and order the whole wheat sub from across the street.
– Julia Arasaratnam (tweet her @JArasaratnam)