Time to get back on track! Now that the new year has arrived, everyone is ready to trade in their leftover holiday cookies for carrot sticks. Nothing wrong with that, right?
As it turns out, it actually might be better to keep those cookies around. According to this educational podcast, willpower takes a lot of energy. Think of your willpower as a well of water. Every time you have to resist temptation you must dip your bucket into the well. If you've spent the entire day resisting temptation, you'll be all out of water by the end of the day.
Here is an example of how willpower works:
In the morning, you really want bacon and eggs with a side of buttery toast for breakfast. Instead, you have an apple with peanut butter (delicious and filling, but not really what you desired).
Mid-day, there's a birthday at work. Slices of cake are being passed around, but you resist and turn down your portion. Colleagues admire your strength!
In the afternoon, you and a friend meet for a late lunch. Your friend orders a hamburger and fries, and you have a salad (although you inhale the smell of that juicy burger as much as you possibly can).
By the evening, you're proud of yourself. You've done so well today and had such strong willpower! So you say "yes" to a slice of pizza. Then another. Then a glass of wine, and a few chips (just a small bowl). Then you pour another glass of wine, and have a piece of chocolate. Maybe just one more piece of chocolate. Well now you've gotten this far, maybe finish the whole thing.
Sound familiar? We've all been there!
Research shows that if you use up all your energy trying to be The Super Perfect Health Hero throughout the day, you'll actually be more likely to give in the next time temptation strikes.
The secret to long-term weight management is this:
You aren't perfect, and you don't have to be. Striving for perfection every meal of every day is setting yourself up for failure. Enjoying food is an important part of enjoying life. Managing a healthy weight is less about omitting your favorite foods, and more about creating a balance.
This doesn't mean we go nuts and give in every time were tempted by our favorite comfort foods. The trick is to make a healthy choice most of the time.
Here is the same example above with this new mindset in place:
In the morning, you have an egg with one piece of bacon, and a slice of whole grain toast with avocado. (Here's a few more non-boring super nutritious breakfast ideas.)
Mid-day, you enjoy a slice of that birthday cake, and it is delicious!
In the afternoon, you meet a friend for lunch. Your friend orders a burger with fries, and you decide you want one too. However, you choose a side salad in place of the fries, and ask for extra lettuce instead of a bun.
By the evening, you're proud of yourself! You don't feel that you missed out on any of the foods you love today. You decide on a healthy homemade dinner and a glass of soda water naturally sweetened with True Citrus. And if you decide you want a piece of chocolate, you have one.
This scenario seems much more doable, and really, more enjoyable. It may take some practice at first, but changing your mindset in this positive way will make weight loss and weight management not only more fun, but more sustainable.
[Credit: Rose, Darya. Home Court Habits: The Secret to Effortless Weight Control. Summer Tomato.]