How to stop screwing up on your diet (part 3)
By Ari Snaevarsson, Features Editor
Last time I ended on the first two important questions in analyzing what went wrong. If you think you have isolated the specific thought that set things off, and you have identified a trigger food (or determined that is not the problem), there is still another question to bear in mind.
What environment were you in?
Even more superficial than the foods themselves is the environment where this behavior routinely happens. Do you stick to your diet without any hiccups at home and at work yet all hell breaks loose when you go out on the weekends? Are you perfectly fine when in a social setting but revert back to bad behaviors when by yourself?
Clearly, this is not as simple as “well, just stop going out.” You cannot avoid life because of your diet, because at the end of the day, this comes down to personal health and self-betterment, and there is nothing healthy about letting your diet control your life.
What you can do is come up with realistic strategies for when you find yourself in these situations. For example, do not get intoxicated enough that decision making is impaired, or (in the case of a work environment-triggered situation) walk the long way to get to your cubicle to avoid the plate of baked goods. From there, test drive those strategies, take note of what works, and begin making the appropriate changes.
There are, however, going to be some scenarios and environments that make it extremely difficult to employ any sort of measures to keep yourself on track. Most articles on this topic do not care to admit this and would have you believe “sticking to two drinks when you go out” is going to work for every person in every situation. The middle-age dads who paint model ships might find this solution easy enough, while 75% of college students will hold back laughter. In helping others reach their health and fitness goals, I am not interested in fighting uphill battles, and I am not interested in writing off groups who cannot follow your diet guidelines as “lazy” or “not wanting it enough.”
In any case, for those situations, all I can say is this: Either find a way to manage your day early on so that the night’s shenanigans cannot hurt you that badly, or avoid them altogether. If they are truly impeding on your ability to lead a healthy and successful life, you are going to be infinitely better off cutting out the tumor early on.
2. Analyze your diet
After becoming cognizant of the thought patterns at play in that moment, and challenging them, we can start to look for problems in the diet. People oftentimes address this before anything else, but what they fail to realize is that the diet is only a symptom. Yes, there are loads of crappy, unsustainable fad diets out there that make adherence a lot harder than need be. That is an issue and it needs to be dealt with, but only after working on the root cause of the problem.
Chances are, if you are super intrinsically motivated and nothing in Step 1 applies to you (in which case you probably would not be reading this article), you are not going to have much difficulty following even the craziest of diets. Point being, if you cannot stick to your diet, the problem at its core is a psychological one and will continue to be a problem if all you do is change your diet.
That said, I am not discouraging you from optimizing your diet by any means. And as long as everything from Step 1 is being seriously addressed and understood as the underlying concern, you should absolutely start evaluating the quality of your diet.
Next week, we will dive into discussion on how to easily analyze your diet, of course after all prior factors have been considered. Stay tuned!