One of the hallmarks of any transformation isn’t what you might think. It’s not being totally adherent to your numbers every single day of every single week, it’s not constantly having food prepared in the kitchen and ready to go and it’s not doing a great job of drinking your water and getting your steps in. Sure, people who have gone through a transformation typically do all of those things. But they also do something else. They go off track.
We all go off track and over-indulge at some point or another. It might be due to the fact that we had a stressful day at work that sent us over the edge. Or, if you’re like plenty of Americans, maybe it was thanks to the Fourth of July holiday weekend, a time when most of the United States gathers together around the pool to grill, watch fireworks and eat anything and everything in the name of freedom.
But what do you do when you go off track? Do you wake up guilt-ridden, beating yourself up? Do you stay on the same course, repeating many of the choices that you know don’t serve you? Or do you buckle down and try to white knuckle your way back to feeling successful?
No matter which course of action you take, here are five simple and actionable steps you can follow to start feeling successful again.
Step 1: Don’t dwell on the past, learn from it.
The past is the ultimate teacher in the school of life. It offers us a chance to look back at our choices and our behaviors, decide if those things are in line with who we truly want to be and then adjust our choices. When viewed that way, the last thing you should do is start beating yourself up over what you’ve done in the past. Much easier said than done though, right?
Understand that falling off the proverbial wagon is completely normal. Nobody expects you to be perfect with your food choices all of the time. We’re not robots. We’re real people who have families, friends and temptations. On top of that, food is never really just food. It doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It’s something that we can bond with loved ones over and it can be a tool that allows us to create special memories that we cherish for years to come.
We all go off track at some point or another, and that’s okay. Going off track doesn’t make you a bad person or a failure at dieting. Instead of beating yourself, use going off track as a chance to start reframing the situation as a learning experience. Look back at what went on and why you think you went off track.
- Was it a conscious choice of yours to indulge?
- Did you catch yourself in the middle of your second plate wondering why in the world you were still eating?
- When thinking about your priorities, were the food and drinks more important at the time than staying on track?
- Were there people that might have influenced your behaviors?
The times when we go off track offer a chance for us to objectively evaluate our behaviors. We get to look back at what we did, ask ourselves why we’re not happy with what we did, and start to put a plan in place for the future to prevent us from winding up in that same situation. This is also where a coach can be a major help since we all struggle to get out of our own way. Don’t be afraid to talk to your coach about what went on and where you think you might be able to improve.
Accept it, understand it, and move on from it.
Step 2: Fight the urge to course correct with drastic action.
After you’ve started to learn from the past, the next step is one of the more difficult ones because it involves fighting against some of the innate urges that many of us have. One of the more common reactions to going off plan is the urge to drastically slash your numbers or follow a highly restrictive form of eating like eating nothing but spinach salads with some grilled chicken for every single meal over the next four weeks. I’m not knocking a spinach salad, by the way. I love spinach salads. I just don’t love them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner – for four weeks at a time
At its core, drastically restricting ourselves is a totally understandable reaction for many of us. After a long weekend of overindulging, many of us feel bloated, full and exhausted.
What we want to recognize though is that this course of action is akin to hopping on a see-saw, see-saw that many of us are all too familiar with. It feeds into the cycle of overindulge, restrict and overindulge again. Once we hop on that see-saw where we’re going back and forth, it’s awfully hard to hop off.
Stronger U works because we try to get you off of that see-saw. We want to help you learn how to moderate yourself and feel less stress around food. Part of that comes with understanding that when we’ve had a big weekend of eating and drinking, what’s needed isn’t seriously restricting ourselves. Instead, it’s getting right back to doing what we know works for us — doing things like planning our meals, prepping our food, eating whole and nutrient-dense foods, and hitting our numbers. Those behaviors haven’t ever stopped working, and they’re far less stressful than trying to white knuckle your way through a week of salads so you can stop feeling bloated.
Step 3: Find your support system
Coaches. Friends in the Stronger U Community. Workout partners at the gym. Accountability buddies. All are examples of where you might find a support system when you’re trying to get back in the groove and feel successful again.
Finding a support system is one of those tried and true ways that we can make this journey easier on ourselves. Friends and coaches that understand what it’s like to go off plan and then get back on track can empathize with you and what you’re trying to do. They can be there to help offer support and guidance. They are the people that you can share your struggles with, trade meal ideas with and be helpful reminders that we’re all in this together.
If you want to go far, go together. Lean on your support system. Find help and support within the Stronger U Community and let people lift you up. And while you’re at it, lift them up as well. We’re all doing the best we can with what we’ve got available to us. Transforming our bodies and our eating behaviors can feel hard enough as it is. Don’t make it harder on yourself by trying to go it alone.
Step 4: Get back to planning.
So you’ve accepted that you went off track. You’ve fought off that urge to seriously restrict yourself, and you’ve enlisted the help of your support system. What should your next step be? Simple: get back to planning.
Planning your meals for the day and the week is one of the most basic and often forgotten strategies that we can use to make our eating lives so much easier. No matter if you’re someone who has been around the Stronger U universe for two weeks or you’re now logging on week 200, planning your meals is a strategy that doesn’t stop working.
It works because when we get back to the process of planning, we remove the in-the-moment thinking that comes along with eating. We’re no longer depending on finite resources like willpower to make good decisions. Instead, we planned for the future and developed a course of action that we could follow through on.
Don’t overcomplicate planning if you’re just getting back on track, either. If you’ve spent a week or weekend over-indulging and eating everything in sight, start back by planning simple meals that you can count on. This is where strategies like the 3-3-3 method are incredibly useful. If we simplify our choices we make it easier to stick to those choices.
Wrapping it all up.
Remember, we all go off track at some point or another, whether it’s something that we’ve planned or a weekend that snuck up on us. Going off track and over-indulging is something that we can all relate to! So when you find yourself on the heels of going off plan and trying to fight your way back, don’t beat yourself up for what happened.
Going off track doesn’t make any of us a failure and it doesn’t mean we’re doomed to keep repeating the same mistakes over and over again. Instead, going off plan and finding our way back presents an opportunity to learn. It’s a time for us to look back at our past, evaluate how the ways we’d like to do better in the future, get back to the basics, recommit to our support system, and start moving forward again.