Lasting success in any undertaking is about becoming a master at getting back on track, not about getting down to your college weight or how many cookies you ate last night or how many minutes you spent on the Stair Master. Learning how to deal with the bad days will, over time, be the determining factor in how many good days you have.
I call it the bounce back theory. If you don't expect perfection from yourself and don't allow the first few bad days (or the first few holiday parties) to derail you totally, then eventually the good days will start to prevail.
It sounds basic, but the inference is very meaningful. The most successful people at my gym aren't perfect. They often come dragging in, exuding the "Idontwannabehere" essence. But bloated and bleary-eyed, they proceed in spite of the puff. They show up. They get right back on track.
What keeps them at their goal weight is not dependent on whether they ran a triathlon this week or were bedridden with a cold. It's not that they ate 700 calories or 7,000 calories. It's that they did what they needed to do to get back on track.
So how do you stay on track or get back on track?
1. Accountability and honesty with yourself. Or ask a loved one to help you be accountable if it's too hard on your own.
2. Give yourself credit when you do stay on track. Pat yourself on the back. Start every sentence with "Today while I was at the gym..."
3. Avoid self-loathing when you get off track. You haven't blown it. Just get back on track. No trash talking about yourself. 'Nough said. Now move on.
4. No excuses. Just because you want to eat doesn't mean you should. And just because you don't feel like exercising doesn't mean you should skip it. Just go put your shoes on and grab your keys. Go.
5. Be realistic. Tell yourself that you'll have good days and bad days and that's okay.
6. Put dieting first. I hate to bear bad news but the reality is that if you have fitness goals, you've got to plan your life around exercise and dieting activities, not vice verse. You deserve to put yourself and your goals first.
7. Recognize that while "all" may be preferable, "a little" is better than "none" when it comes to health and fitness goals.
8. Know your triggers for unwanted behavior and plan accordingly. Sit far away from the peanuts. Wait 20 minutes before getting seconds. Don't bring the Kris Kringle Fudge in the house. Have water between glasses of wine. Ask your friends/partner to gently remind you of your goals. Or if you require tough love, agree upon a hand signal that signifies "WTF! Remember you said you wouldn't eat that!"
9. Give yourself full credit every time you get back on track. Say to yourself, "that wasn't so bad."
And then, in the morning, get back on track.