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Why Blowing Your Diet Is the Best Thing For Your Diet

If you're like most of my clients, when you first start a new exercise and nutrition program, you feel excited, motivated, and driven.

In the first few weeks, you're 100% compliant with the program and as a result of the work you're putting in, you start changing. The number on the scale goes down and your clothes fit better. You become brave enough to start trying on the clothes you've stored in the back of the closet. Roasted brussel sprouts start sounding better than chips and salsa when you go out. Waking up earlier to exercise is more motivating than sleeping in. You celebrate your body in the mirror instead of criticizing it. You move closer toward your health goals and it's positively impacting every other area of your life. Somehow, you can now tolerate your job, be more productive at work, and you're less annoyed that your partner left his dirty socks on the floor.

And then one day, after weeks of being on track, that voice in your head blindsights you and says, “You’ve been doing so well, just one cookie won’t hurt” or “Have an extra drink, you’re celebrating!” Now having an extra cookie or a drink on a rare occasion will not derail your progress, however, if the one turns into a binging spree, you have a problem.

One day of binge eating or drinking will counter the work you put in all week (or maybe even all month). If you step on the scale after binging, you’ll see that the number probably jumped up a few pounds. Some of that will be water weight and 1-2 of those pounds may be fat gain. The water weight will fall right off in a couple of days once you resume your healthy behaviors again, but the fat? That, you’ll have to work to get off again.

And what about the way you feel after binging? You might wake up feeling groggy, bloated, anxious, depressed, and disappointed in yourself. You might tell yourself that none of the food or alcohol was worth it and you can’t believe that after weeks of progress, you fell back into your old unhealthy habits. One afternoon of binging countered days or weeks of hard work.

Stay with these feelings. You get five minutes to hate yourself and then you have to move on. While you may have lost temporary momentum, the best thing you can do is to take responsibility for what happened and figure out why it happened. Was there a stress trigger? Was it peer pressure? Did you just want to relax with food or alcohol because you haven't figured out an alternative coping mechanism? In the moment, the reasoning for eating or drinking probably made sense. But now looking back, you’re probably wondering who hijacked your brain.

After several weeks of feeling amazing, you now remember what it feels like to abuse your body again. The contrast in feeling sluggish and disappointed in yourself versus energized and proud of yourself should be enough to kickstart your plan again. Would you rather wake up each day feeling energized and motivated, or sluggish, depressed and stuck? You already know what it feels like to be self-conscious and lacking confidence, so why not try staying with the plan? If you treated your body well and felt motivated and energized each morning, where could you be six months from now?

Jump right back on the horse, and get back into action. Drink water, move your body, and journal your thoughts. The quicker you get back on track, the quicker you’ll start feeling better. This is your opportunity to learn from your derailment. Lean in and review what happened. Was this binge avoidable? The answer is yes. All binges are avoidable. All binges can be redirected into more productive action, like sitting with your feelings and allowing them to coexist (less fun than eating pizza and drinking beer, but better in the long term). If you want to up level your life, learn from the behaviors that aren’t serving you.


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