At this time of year, SO many people want to get back on the wagon but can’t get started.
Does this scenario sound familiar to you?
No so long ago you felt motivated and determined to change your lifestyle and start living healthy!
You started the year with hope enthusiasm and you were feeling proud about your slimmer appearance and feeling so much better about yourself.
You ate healthily, exercised regularly and avoided temptation.
You were confident that this time you were going to do it: you were going to reach your goals once and for all!
Then life got busy, the stress built up at work, and somehow it all didn’t seem so important.
It’s like ‘the novelty wore off’ and you reverted back to your old habits of using food to fill your empty spaces and lost all control.
Now it’s time to get back on the wagon!
How Are You Feeling?
You may feel disappointed and cranky with yourself.
You probably want to get back on the wagon but it can feel frightening.
You may even feel stuck before you get started and you may not know exactly where to start.
How do you Get Back On The Wagon?
Compassion is the starting point to help you get back on the wagon.
That means you need to acknowledge and accept where you are – show yourself compassion, the same type of compassion that you would show a friend and what you would say to them.
Dr. Christopher Germer, the author of “The mindful path to self-compassion” suggests responding compassionately to our own imperfections, without judgment or self-blame—these are essential steps on the path to healing.
Where to from here?
When you fall off the wagon on your healthy journey, you have two choices:
- To walk backwards, which will take you even further away from your goals.
- To accept your situation as normal and forgivable and start taking small steps towards the future you desire. This will help you regain your momentum for healthy living.
Start slowly and try to avoid setting crazy restrictive plans or making too many food rules for yourself.
Here are some steps to get started.
Focus on Progress not Perfection!
In the past, I would always punish myself and set off on a restrictive path, like just drinking smoothies all day long or only eating once a day.
This deprivation never lasted and is definitely not sustainable long term!
Identify your focus and set GOALS
Pick one area for change and start there.
- What is the simplest smallest change you can START with that will have the most impact?
Then, set specific, SMART Goals.
SMART stands for Specific – Measurable – Action-Oriented – Realistic – Time-Based,
Here are some examples of specific healthy eating goals that are SMART:
- I will eat a piece of fruit for my afternoon snack on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday next week instead of a cookie or potato chips.
- I will take a healthy lunch to work on Tuesday and Thursday next week instead of grabbing fast food.
Take Steps Toward Your Goal
Once you have picked your area for change and have your goal in mind, think of how you can reach your goal.
Use simple, do-able ideas as the steps to your goal.
Here are examples of first steps to reach a goal:
- I’ll keep a record of what, when, and how much I eat every day next week.
- Tomorrow I’ll look at some websites for ideas about simple, healthy lunches I can make.
- I will go grocery shopping after dinner tomorrow night so that I am not tempted to buy junk food
Develop an action plan for healthy eating
What is an action plan to get back on the wagon?
An action plan is something that will help you take steps toward reaching your goal of, say, healthier eating.
The purpose of an action plan is to:
- clarify the resources you will require to reach your goal; and
- create a timeline for completing specific tasks.
5 Steps to develop an action plan for change
1. Identify the area for change
- Be clear about what it is.
For example, “eating less junk food” is a bit vague.
Eating take out dinner less than twice per week is much more specific and easier to actually identify and measure.
Think about what ‘get back on the wagon’ actually means for YOU.
2. List everything you need to do to achieve your goal
- What will you need to do daily/weekly?
- How much are you I going to do and how often will you do it?
- When are you going to do it?
3. Schedule in time in your daily planner to action your goal
- Use your daily to-do list or diary to schedule the specific action – even if it’s identifying the nights you will eat junk food!
4. Identify obstacles
- Identify things and situations that trip you up – what might hold up your “get back on the wagon” campaign?
- Brainstorm solutions to the above (think of previous success)
- Tweak your plan if necessary
5. Assess your progress on a regular basis
- What worked?
- What didn’t work?
- What can you do differently?
6. Plan for the next day/week
- Be sure you have everything ready that you need for the day ahead.
- Think about what you need to set out, take with you, or alarms you need to set.
7. Recognise and celebrate your success daily
- List 3 things that went well each day.
- This satisfies your rewards centres in a healthy way and helps you to build confidence.
And now, set up YOUR action steps to take.
Start by cleaning up your diet
For most people, the desire to get back on the wagon involves a healthier diet.
You will feel the effects immediately, your energy and mood will lift and you will feel calmer and more focused.
- Start by thinking about what you eat now and what changes you want to make. (think clean eating, out to junk)
- Then think about what eating changes will help you make healthier food choices.
- You don’t have to change your whole diet all at once.
- Tune in to your hunger signals
- Try and focus on eating to fuel your body rather then feeding your emotions.
Practice Mindful Eating Each Day
Emotional eating is often a result of not being conscious of what or why you’re eating.
- Happens when you have finished your meal and you continue picking when you are no longer hungry
- Eating whatever is in front to you just because it’s there, not because you’re hungry
Practise mindful eating:
- Practise being mindful of what and when you are eating.
- Start out slowly and avoid self-judgement as you practise this new habit
Get organised and be prepared
Part of healthy eating is making sure your environment is set up to support you. This means a bit of meal planning and preparation so you always have healthy food on hand.
Being organised and prepared puts you in control and allows you to be deliberate with your healthy food choices.
Here are a few questions to help you plan in advance so you can be organised in future
- When is your best planning day?
- When is your best shopping day?
- When is your best food prep day/s?
Consistency is KING!
Practice being consistent-doing things consistently will help you develop your habit and carry it on. It will become second nature after a while.
I hope this post has inspired you to get back on track and has inspired you to be a bit more kind to yourself if you happen to “fall off the wagon”.
Now over to you:
Are you feeling stuck and needing support to help you get back on track?
One of the most common questions I get asked is, “How do you get back on track when you feel stuck?”
If you want to know more about HOW planning can help you feel like you are winning, contact me for a chat a 15-minute discussion.
Its free. And it will change your life.
Emotional Eating Coach
I help you put down your fork and pick up your life.
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