Here’s the truth: we all have slip ups. There are financial gurus who make money mistakes, pastors who have serious doubts about their faith, and health coaches who eat crap. Most of us walk around feeling like failures because we remind ourselves of every little slip up we make, but rarely take credit for the things we do well. Does one mistake undo your credibility? Does one wrong move as a parent or in your career mean you’re a big fake? I hope not! No one can live up to that standard.
Ready for some real talk? I don’t eat as many veggies as I should every day. Some days I overindulge – even in healthy foods – just because they taste so good. I love food and don’t always make the best choice. I really, really, really love wine. And chocolate.
So, if you focus on all my shortcomings, you may be wondering why anyone would hire me as their health coach, right? But here’s what I do well: I move on from mistakes and make a better choice the next time. I used to dwell on the slip ups and use that as an excuse to throw myself into the downward spiral of finishing off the whole bag or ordering dessert because I’d “already messed up today anyway…might as well go with it.” But at some point I learned that one bad snack or meal does not have to mean one bad day. One bad day doesn’t have to mean one bad month. And 2 bad months doesn’t mean you have to wait until next January to start over yet again.
This is true for many areas in life, but my focus is health and wellness, so I’ll focus on what this means for our relationship with food. Every time you eat something that doesn’t make you feel your best or support your goals, put it in the past! Then make a conscious effort to start over again at your next meal. YOU get to decide when your clean slate happens. One bad meal won’t ruin your progress any more than one salad will make you thin or healthy. We are all living the sum of our choices up to this point. So all you have to do is make a decision to make better choices going forward. Want to look and feel better this time next year? If you eat 3 times a day, you have over 1,000 chances to make better choices, so don’t get down on yourself for one “bad” choice. Make a commitment to make as many good choices as it takes, to grant yourself a do-over at the next meal, and pat yourself on the back when you honor your body and your goals with the right foods.
So how do you do this? Here are a few tips.
- Address your negative self talk. If you call yourself names every time you slip up, you are only setting yourself up for another failure – and soon! Talk to yourself the way you would expect a friend or loved one to treat you. You are deserving of love and it must start with you!
- Distract yourself. It’s pretty hard to quit eating from the bag of Doritos if you sit there with the open bag in your lap! Get up, put it away (or trash it!), and go do something else. Turn on a favorite song and dance around, go for a walk, paint your nails, pet your dog….it doesn’t matter what you choose, just do something different!
- Write it down. Whether you use a journal, a calendar, or your iPhone, find a place to write about the feeling you have before and after your slip ups. If you always eat a bag Oreos after a visit with a certain family member, maybe the real issue is that relationship. If it’s a consistent time of month that sends you looking for the Ben and Jerry’s, being aware that time is approaching will give you the opportunity to stock up on a healthy alternative. Knowing how you’re feeling and why is a big step in managing these emotions in a healthier way.
- List all the things your good at. It doesn’t have to be a long list, and it doesn’t have to include rocket science or curing cancer. If you’re really good at cleaning the floors or styling your hair, add it to the list. Focusing on your strengths will boost your feelings of confidence.
This is by no means a comprehensive list, but these are the keys that have helped me dig myself out of the cupcake pity party in the past. I hope they help you! And if you have other tips you’d like to share, I’d love to hear what has worked for you!