Sticking to it

By Coach Andrew

Okay. You’ve got the information. You know the diet that works. All you need to do now is follow the guidelines and in a few months you’ll be in amazing shape. Easy, right?

Maybe not. Like most people out there (including myself) you’re probably going to find it challenging to stick to the diet plan. After the initial excitement of starting the new regime and your early determination and belief in yourself, you find that after a week or two your willpower starts to wither and temptation seems to be increasing. Familiar story?

In my experience of working with people, as well as reflecting on my own experiences, I’ve realised that trying really really hard is rarely, if ever enough to succeed. We must put more in place. These are my top tips for making the difference:

Peer Support
Although, in my opinion, the nutritional recommendations of most of the diet groups aren’t as effective as the Paleo diet that we teach, they have one great thing about them; they provide a group of people to share the journey with. Having someone, or even better a group of people, to be accountable to and also having them there to encourage you when you’re struggling is hugely valuable. That’s why we encourage you to buddy up with fellow athletes from the box to make commitments to each other to talk regularly. Not only will this be a reminder to you of your own goals, but by being there to encourage someone else, you’re also being useful to another….and there’s magic in that.

Connect on a sub-conscious level
Only deciding consciously to connect to a goal is ignoring a huge part of our brain. To get our sub-conscious involved, one of the tricks is to use our powers of visualization. I have two methods for achieving this:

• Vision board / video – finding pictures that inspire you and putting them on a cork board somewhere prominent in your house (in your bedroom where it is the first thing you will see when you wake up) is a great way for many people to connect more to their goals. Examples of pictures that might work for a diet might be a body that you aspire to create, a picture of your kids playing on the beach (and a reminder that you want the health to be able to run around with them), or an athlete performing something amazing that you would love to do too. You don’t have to keep the visions to the diet either. Add pictures related to work, fitness, spiritual, financial or any other goals. And if you’re more clued up technologically, you could even make yourself a short video, with music and all, to watch on a daily basis.

• Visualization practise – put aside 5 minutes on a daily basis, find somewhere quiet to sit, and use your imagination to take you to the future where you’ve achieved your goal already. Really get into what it might feel like to have lost the pounds or become that person who’s achieved whatever the goals are. What does it feel like physically? What does it feel like emotionally? How grateful/proud/excited does it feel to be that person? I believe in the Law of Attraction, which states that if we focus on positive thoughts, we will create positive results in our lives. Try it for yourself, it’s powerful.

Deal with your emotions
Naughty food is tempting because it tastes good. Tasty food gives us pleasure and makes us feel good temporarily. If we’re feeling a bit down, naughty food can seem like a quick way to lift our mood. Whether this process is happening consciously or unconsciously, if you keep returning to foods you’re trying not to eat, the process is going on. Face it… use food to feel better sometimes….to fix yourself emotionally……and guess what……’re not alone, because so does almost everyone else.
One of the main ways you can increase your chances of breaking any habitual behaviour is to improve your general emotional and psychological state, thus reducing the need to fix yourself. Here’s some things I’ve used both myself, and with my clients, with success:

• Gratitude list – Get up in the morning and write down all the things you’re grateful for in your life. There’s no better way to start the day than to remind yourself what’s good, rather than focusing on the perceived bad stuff (fears, resentments, boredom etc.). Takes 5 minutes and feels awesome.

• Write a diary – Everyone has stuff happen in their day that stresses them out. Whether it’s someone at work winding you up, an incident in the car/at the supermarket, financial fears or troubles in your love life that are bothering you, we all have things to deal with. Rather than just plodding on and trying not to pay too much attention to them, do something about them. Spend 10 minutes at the end of the day reviewing your day in a journal and looking for any of these things. Putting them on paper seems to stop them spinning around your head (sometimes with us not even aware they are taking up so much of our mental space) and enables us to look at them a little more objectively. Is there anything you could do to make any of the things better, rather than trying to ignore them? Could you practise forgiveness for someone you’re angry with? Could you try and make amends for something you feel guilty about? Could you take any action to make a small difference in relieving a fear you have? Plan it for the next day and see how much better you feel.

• Meditation – Learning to clear our minds and just be present has an enormous power too. Whilst it seems to conflict with the idea above of bringing our attention to things bothering us, I think the two are actually compatible and indeed complementary to each other. If you can timetable periods of each into your life, you can dramatically change the way you feel and think. Instructions for meditation can be found online easy enough. Be patient with yourself and don’t expect to be able to sit for ages without your mind wondering at first. It takes lots of practise to free our minds from our habitual thinking patterns, but there’s rewards in the journey far before we’ve achieved the goal.

• Find another technique – There are plenty of other methods that people use to deal with lifes stresses. One I’ve used before is Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), which is system of tapping acupressure points to relieve stuff. You can find that and many other ways if you start looking and paying an interest in changing the way you feel.

No excuses
“I don’t have the time to prepare the food”
“My husband/wife/partner/kids won’t eat this way and it’s too difficult to eat differently”
“My work involves me eating out all the time”
“I don’t want to be the odd one out / awkward one”
Whatever your excuse, there is somebody out there who could be using it as well, but isn’t. There is always a solution to reasons why we can’t do something. The path towards finding the solution often starts with refusing to accept the excuse. When you don’t waste time indulging in excuses it makes the journey so much easier. So just dismiss them immediately.
However, whilst saying this, I also want you to remember to congratulate yourself regularly when you don’t use the excuse. It’s important to not feel like you’re being harsh on yourself. You want to recognise that’s it’s a healthy, loving part of you that’s reminding the tempted part of you that you’re growing in a new, more positive direction, rather than sounding like a mean teacher or parent telling the bad you off for misbehaving.
Or maybe you might laugh gently at the tempted you and lovingly guide yourself back to the right path, like a wise and caring parent or teacher?

I hope that’s been helpful. I would suggest starting by putting a couple of these things in place and then adding to them as you go alone. The more you can do, the more likely you will be able to stick to your new diet and reap the rewards…….a fitter and healthier you.

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