Changing your lifestyle isn't easy, even when it’s intentional and you have a specific goal in mind. And while there are a zillion guides and how-to’s out there to walk you through the finer points—including this one!—sometimes you need to make like Missy and flip it (and reverse it). In an effort to help you recognize what not to do, here are four surefire ways to screw up your health and wellness goals.
Diving Into a Fad
Fads are temporary moments of insanity, and fad diets are even worse. Don’t buy into false promises of “quick” weight loss, because let me tell you, changing your weight is not all that easy. It requires commitment to a real change, and diving head first into whatever the latest celebrity tells you is not how to do it. Forget the tummy wraps, the cayenne pepper water, the cabbage soup diet, and all the other nonsense. Take some time to really consider your goals and work backwards to make a plan of action.
Even if you know you’re not going to follow strict rules and restrictions, you’re going to need something to keep your goals measurable. Otherwise, you have no way of knowing if you’re even doing anything worthwhile. The wing-it philosophy, where you tell yourself you’re just going to “eat healthy” and “really commit to exercise” with zero structure or timelines or planning, is the best way to find yourself back at square one before you know it.
Playing the Hunger Games
Surprise—people tend to feel hungrier around certain times of the year. There’s the obvious—the holiday season, with its bounty of cookies and treats—but it’s also common to feel hungrier when temperatures plummet. Cold weather can create a drop in body temperature, which stimulates appetite. Unfortunately, the knee-jerk reaction to feeling like you’ve over-indulged is too often starvation and calorie restriction, which is hard on your body and your willpower. And completely ineffective, by the way.
Eating for Family and Friends
Eating is an extremely social thing. In the summer, we plan cookouts and barbecues with food as the star. In the fall, it’s cozy dinners with friends. Winter is basically leapfrogging from one giant dinner to the next, with alcohol-laced parties and cookie decorating get-togethers mixed in for variety.
I’m a sucker for all of this myself. If my whole family is stoked for dinner and I’m not hungry, guess what? I’m eating dinner. If my friends are all going out for brunch but I’m still full from a post-workout snack, guess what? I’m going to that brunch and eating with them. Here’s the thing—if you’re not hungry, you shouldn’t eat! There’s nothing wrong with ordering a small broth-y soup or simple salad. But the best approach is a little forethought here. If you know your family discussed dinner, don’t eat a late lunch. If you know you don’t have a big appetite in the morning, suggest a late lunch instead of brunch.
You can save yourself a lot of time and grief with a little introspection. It was Socrates who said, “know thyself,” and yes, that was entirely related to philosophy and not health and fitness, but it still applies! What do you want? What are you hoping to achieve? What’s hard for you, and what’s really doable? Figuring out the sticky bits of this whole healthy-lifestyle thing, whether it’s committing to your fitness plan or getting through that mid-afternoon slump or late-night craving without caving into a pint of ice cream or an entire bag of kettle chips, gives you space to come up with solutions. Maybe a personal trainer or a reliable fitness buddy is all you need for a little fitness accountability. Maybe stocking the freezer with some Bumpin Blends smoothie cubes is the best way to satisfy that sweet tooth (and, you know, get a huge boost of fiber and vitamins and minerals at the same time).
The point is, there are always ways to reach those goals. You just have to know what you really want first so you can figure out how to make it happen.