Did you know that no one ever sticks to their diet 100%? EVER.
Crazy right? Even more crazy is that it’s OK… If you are smart about it.
A core characteristic of being a true Sleekgeek is to have realistic expectations about living a healthy lifestyle.
A bonus characteristic is to have system in place to help mitigate or minimize the damage of any problems along the way (such as not sticking 100% to your diet).
Have a smart system in place
It’s common knowledge that after a certain age most people need to retire and can no longer work. The smart ones have a system in place (retirement plan) to help them deal with that.
Likewise, it’s common knowledge that no one sticks to their diet 100% (even if social media only shows us people’s successes and highlights~). The smart ones have a system in place that helps them deal with that too.
That smart system is the rule that you will have only one bad meal.
It helps you stay on track
Imagine your journey to good health, fitness, vitality, and whatever else is like walking along a path through the forest. If you want to make progress towards your destination, the easiest and usually quickest way to do so is to stick to the path as much as possible.
There might be times where you try take a short cut or get distracted and wander off a bit. That’s ok. As long as you don’t wander off too far and keep bringing yourself back on track.
Of course, the further away from the path you wander, the longer and harder it takes to get back to (or even find) the path again.
It’s OK occasionally have an unplanned or unhealthy cheat meal. You are only taking one or two steps off your path. But don’t let it get out of hand – it’s dangerous out there.
Avoid the snowball effect
If you want to achieve long-term success then you need to grasp the concept of the snowball effect and how to avoid it.
The snowball effect is a process where you start off with a small indiscretion, like eating a burger and chips, which is small and insignificant on its own. One bad meal doesn’t make you unhealthy, just like one good meal doesn’t make you healthy either. It’s the total sum of all your good or bad meals that have the biggest impact.
Add in another cheat on top of that burger and chips, like a milkshake for dessert followed by waffles for breakfast, and suddenly this small indiscretion can very easily get out of hand. It can build upon itself, becoming larger (and more disastrous) – kind of like a snowball rolling down a hill, picking up speed and size as it goes.
One thing leads to another and suddenly you have had an entire weekend of terrible eating, or even worse an entire week following that. You might even get to a point where you feel like there is no point in starting over so you just give up. It happens more often than you might think.
Sticking to your diet isn’t the biggest problem
The biggest problem that most people face with eating healthily isn’t that they can’t stick to their diet and avoid unplanned indulgences. It’s actually that they mess up too frequently and it usually snowballs into something much bigger than it needs to be.
Solution: You are allowed one bad meal. ONE. Then that’s it.
Enjoy it, and then get back on track. Don’t let it blow your whole diet away. Don’t keep restarting all the time. Don’t let 1 cheat meal overflow into the next meal, or even the next day.
If you indulged in Belgian Waffles for breakfast on Sunday, don’t let lunch get out of hand too and then lead to dinner being a disaster. Nip it in the bud. Make your go-to super duper healthy meal for lunch like a tuna and avocado salad with plenty of brightly coloured vegetables.
If your dinner at the restaurant went astray from your planned chicken and spinach dish to a big bowl of pasta followed by cheesecake instead, make sure that breakfast the next day is awesomely healthy. Get up extra early if you need to so that you can prepare the healthiest breakfast you have ever had.
Note: Just because you are allowed one bad meal, does not give you free reign to binge and go crazy. With power and freedom comes responsibility. You should still actively be trying to make better choices and moderate how much you eat/drink, even if you do cheat.
You can’t always control what food is available to eat or what events happen in your life. But you can still retain some control over how much you eat. Be in control, even when things aren’t perfect.
Everyone messes up, and that’s OK
Remember that it’s OK if you mess up. Everyone does from time to time.
However, the amount of long-term change and level of success you experience depends on how you react to that mess up.
Getting depressed and upset about eating a cheat meal often leads to eating more cheat meals. It’s a way of self-medicating. When we are sad, depressed, angry, or frustrated we tend to crave more sugary, fatty, and high-energy foods. It’s an ancient survival mechanism that is out of place in our modern world.
Beating yourself up about it and vowing to never do it again gets you nowhere. Remember, be realistic. Accept that everyone does mess up, you included. But you get to control how bad that mess up is.
Make the most of it
A negative thinker sees a difficulty in every opportunity.
A positive thinker sees an opportunity in every difficulty.
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Be that positive thinker and make the most of your mess up.
- First, I make sure that I really enjoy that cheat. Maybe I’m with a friend that I haven’t seen in a long time and he wanted to grab a beer and burger with me. I’m going to go and enjoy the hell out of that time with him. I’m not going to sit there feeling guilty and depressed about my diet.
- Second, I tell myself: “Great, I’ve got my fix of sweet stuff, now the next few weeks are going to be a breeze.” Of course there is no guarantee that I won’t mess up again in the next few weeks. But my positive, optimistic self-talk makes me more confident going forwards. On the other hand, a negative thinker might start doubting their self control and ability to stick on a diet. Whether you think you can or can’t, you’re right.
- Third, I make the most of all that extra “energy” (calories) the next day in the gym. The more you eat, the stronger you are in the gym. Of course there are diminishing returns, but I’m going to make the most of this extra energy opportunity to have my best workout yet.
Recap / Summary:
- No one is perfect, mess ups do happen.
- Only 1 bad meal.
- Your next meal MUST be healthy.
- Avoid spillovers and the snowball effect.
- Remain in control, even when things aren’t going perfectly.
- Be positive and make the most of it.