You know how when you buy a new car you suddenly start seeing a million of them everywhere? The opposite phenomenon happens when you decide to make changes with your nutrition and lifestyle.
Suddenly your social calendar is overflowing, you have business lunches, or you need to travel. Anything to take you off of your game. Now you're faced with constant temptation and forced to think about which choice to make over and over.
This happens to my clients all. the. time.
So how do you handle the change in your schedule, the disruptions to your normal routine, the decision fatigue, and the all to common lack of support? Read on my friend, I've got tips galore.
It's no surprise that people often don't choose to make changes to their diet and lifestyle around the holidays. We all know that those times are typically crazy busy, stressful, and full of temptation.
I urge clients to start making new habits before the holiday season for this very reason. If you already have a solid routine you'll be able to stay the course that much easier.
I also want you to remember it is just a season. It will end and life will normalize. While health goals are important and I don't advise throwing them all out the window during the holiday season, it is good to know that you can give yourself a little grace and feel confident that you aren't going to lose all of your progress.
Out of Left Field
If you intentionally chose a date that will set you up for success, but get an unexpected curve ball thrown at you, it can be really hard to navigate.
In some cases you may be able to prepare ahead of time. This is the best case scenario. Some of my best tips are:
don't attend a business lunch or social event on an empty stomach (always have healthy snacks in your office and/or purse)
pack healthy snacks for the trip
get a hotel with a refrigerator or kitchenette
find a grocery store when you arrive at your destination to get additional snacks or foods to keep in your room
scope out the hotel gym when you arrive
download an app that has body weight exercises you can do in your hotel room
look at restaurant menus ahead of time and know what you'll order before arriving
pack a sleep mask, essential oils, or sound machine to ensure you get plenty of sleep
have a go-to de-stresser like deep breathing for when you enter a high stress period
These tips cover a lot of the reasons why my clients say they get off track. We start talking about the "what-ifs" right away because its good to have some techniques in your back pocket so you aren't thrown completely off track.
However, there will be times you can't plan ahead. If this happens...don't panic. Instead, follow these steps.
make the best choice you can
don't live in regret if it wasn't the perfect choice
get back to your new "normal" at the next opportunity (i.e. the next meal, the next day, when you get home)
Don't fall down the rabbit hole of "Well I already blew it, I might as well wait until Monday". The quicker you get back to your new routine the better.
Lack of Support
Another issue I hear from clients is that they have a lack of support. Friends and loved ones try to pressure them into making choices that don't align with their new diet or lifestyle.
When I first began to change my diet I too was all alone. It sucked.
Every where I turned people were minimizing my need to avoid certain foods or trying to convince me to eat said food because "it was THE best", "it's just one time", or "you've been eating it your whole life, it won't kill you". As if it wasn't hard enough to give up a food I'd enjoyed my whole life.
It's funny how when you're eating poorly, no one blinks an eye, but the moment you start making healthier choices people suddenly have a lot to say.
Now that I'm on the other side, I can see what was happening so much more clearly. The truth is, it's not about you.
What actually happens is that people feel you're judging their choices. Even if 5 of 6 people are eating this food and you are literally the only one not eating it...they feel judged.
Now maybe all five of these people aren't pressuring you. That's because this seems to only be an issue for those that feel they may need to make changes in their life. My advice? Avoid spending time with these people, especially when it involves food.
If that's not possible, maybe it's a spouse or co-worker, you need to practice your response and say it with conviction every time. Typically, if you're consistent, they will eventually stop. When you give in to their peer pressure on occasion, that encourages them to keep up the behavior.
You could say something like this.
"No thanks, you go ahead and enjoy. I'm feeling really good since changing my diet. I know it's not for everyone, but it's definitely for me."
Now, honestly you could just stop at the first sentence. You shouldn't feel like you need to defend your choices. The point is to come up with something to say and to say it with conviction, not with a question mark at the end. It should feel genuine and true to you. Practice it and say it with conviction.
Surrounded by Temptation
This is another popular issue that comes up, especially when there is a lack of support at home. In this scenario, they may not be pressuring you to eat the way they want to eat, but they sure aren't going to make your new diet and lifestyle easy by also forgoing their favorite foods or joining you for a walk.
If you're still buying foods for your spouse or kids that doesn't align with your new diet, then you need to find a cabinet for these foods. Take them out of the pantry and give them their own home. Dedicate a specific shelf or drawer in the refrigerator.
Yes, you'll know they're there. You will still likely see them being consumed, but it helps you understand that these foods aren't for you.
Of course, there will still be office potlucks, candy bowls galore, even birthday parties. Always having healthy snacks in your office and planning ahead for lunch will make it easier in the beginning. The most important piece here is to know why you are avoiding certain foods. You need to remind yourself, with conviction, as often as you need to. Once you start feeling great, you will need less reminders and the temptation will wane.
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What If You Want Others In Your Life to Eat Healthier Too
If other people in your life could benefit from making changes, don't ask them to eat healthier or join you for exercise. Say what??? I know, it seems counter intuitive.
Here's the thing, you had a catalyst, a why, a moment of clarity. This person probably hasn't.
When you begin to feel better it's hard not to talk about constantly or tell people how they too could benefit. Instead, just do you. Of course, tell people if they ask, but try not to share it unsolicited.
The people in your life will take notice. We already know they might start by giving you a ton of reasons why you shouldn't be making these changes. Then, after you consistently shut them down, they'll ignore you. Or...you think they're ignoring you, but when they can finally see the changes that you've been feeling they will take notice in a new way.
Now when I say "see" this doesn't necessarily mean weight loss. There are many other benefits to changing diet and lifestyle. They may take notice of your energy, mood, memory, skin, or the fact that you're taking less medication.
You do you. Set the example and they will likely become interested. They will start asking questions. They will start making changes. They will start following your lead. If you push, they will run the other way.
Find Your People
Just like when you buy a new car, when you make changes to your diet and lifestyle, and you talk about it, you will find others that are doing something similar. Sure, it would be easier if your family and friends were that support, but that doesn't always happen.
When I started running I didn't know anyone who ran. Then by just casually mentioning running in the break room I found out there were several people I knew that also ran. I picked their brain, got lots of great tips and even found an awesome running buddy. They already knew how great it was and were ready and willing to chat about it as often as me.
The same thing happens with food. When I gave up gluten, I found others that had done the same. I also found people that gave up dairy and faced similar struggles. These may or may not be people you see every day, but with technology it's easy to stay in touch.
You might find a mom at school that you only see at school functions, but now you know you'll have support at school functions.
You can also find groups on social media. You can get support, share your story, and talk until the cows come home.
These are your people. They will not be rolling their eyes and trying to poke holes. They will be supportive and encouraging. The moral of the story is, even if those close to you aren't your biggest supporters, you can find support.
Don't give up. If you find that you're still struggling to stay on track then consider hiring a coach for accountability, support, and guidance. There are many types of health coaches and personal trainers that can help you reach your goals. Find one that resonates with you or that specializes in your area of need.
You can do this.
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