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Most people want to make healthy changes to their diets, yet most dont. Why?
Food is emotional; it makes us feel satisfied. Plus, we have to eat multiple times a day. Thats multiple times per day – regardless of our mood or motivation level – that we are faced with a decision: make a healthier choice or make an excuse, and unfortunately, excuses are easier to make.
Our internal dialogue is constant, and happens unconsciously – almost like an outside voice telling us what or what not to do; and we tend to follow it blindly, without a second thought. But thats your voice, and the ability to recognize and take ownership of that (along with acknowledging the fact you are actively sabotaging yourself) is ultimately the key to success. Conscious or not, you can combat the most common dieting excuses people tell themselves by understanding where they originate from and how to overcome them.
The Excuse: I had a rough day, I deserve it! I worked out, I earned it!
Overcome it: This kind of thinking is a recipe for a lifetime of struggling with an unhealthy relationship with food. Thinking you need to earn your food or use it as a reward, instead of seeing it as simply the fuel to keep your cells alive, creates negative feelings and emotional ties to your intake, making it impossible to get a positive outcome from a negative place. You do not need to earn your food. Food and exercise arent opposites – and food is not a reward or a punishment. Food is simply the fuel you need to do the things you love.
Aside from your mental health, if you use food as a reward for working out or a streak of healthy eating, youre undoing all your hard work. How good you feel should be your reward; or if you really do deserve a reward, treat yourself with something that will further your goals – like a new pair of gym kicks – instead of something that will ultimately set you back.
The Excuse: I have a slow metabolism. Im dieting but its just not working because my body is betraying me. Oh, well, thats just the way it is.
Overcome it: This excuse comes from not fully understanding how your metabolism works. While your baseline metabolism may be fast or slow, you can ultimately control it through diet and exercise. Shrugging your shoulders and using your metabolism as a scapegoat is the easy out and a defeatist attitude. If you truly have a slow metabolism, any extra calories will work against you, so you need to be even more vigilant with your intake. In order to change your metabolism, you need to build more muscle mass to raise the rate at which you burn calories throughout the day. A slow metabolism isnt a life sentence – its more of a reason to stick to your healthy eating and workout goals.
The Excuse: Ill start tomorrow (so Ill eat whatever I want right now to really make it count. Last meal, here I come!)
Overcome it: Stuffing yourself before you start a diet is shooting yourself in the foot before you even get going. Chances are, you see the upcoming start of your diet as a long walk to the electric chair. Making healthy changes shouldnt be torture, but were willing to bet your past experience with dieting is setting you up for the ugh, this is going to suck attitude. Theres that internal dialogue again.
The best thing you can do is to not wait. Start now – and start small. Just make the next right decision. If you gorge yourself, you’ll wake up feeling awful and demotivated. But each good decision you make will build on itself and soon youll have the confidence to know you can do it!