An awful lot of our diet failures have nothing to do with emotional eating or food addictions. They have to do with laziness and carelessness–a lack of planning. The good news: Virtually every diet challenge can be overcome with good planning. These rules from Thinspired: How I Lost 90 Pounds—My Plan for Lasting Weight Loss and Self-Acceptance will help you get it together.
1. Suck It Up
I’ll start with the tough love. The first rule of planning is to suck it up. Planning is a chore, plain and simple. Carrying out those plans is an even bigger chore. It’s a full‐time job. If it were easy, everyone would do it. Don’t forget, laziness is probably what got you to this point; not cooking, eating out all of the time, never grocery shopping, skipping the gym. If you do more of the same, you’ll get more of the same. Planning involves thinking through virtually every aspect of your life, including whom you are friends with. If you have friends who belittle your lifestyle changes (“Would it kill you to have one piece of bread? I mean, come on”), then they have to go. Planning affects everything. Accept that you’re essentially taking on a new job.
Notice that I used the word “chore” above. That’s essentially what planning involves; a new set of chores. Who wants more chores?! No one. But if you want that tiny waist, you have to work for it, in more ways than in the gym. What if you don’t like cooking? Too bad. Suck it up. You have to eat. You know what I don’t like? Brushing my teeth. Seriously. I hate brushing my teeth. It’s so boring; it just goes on and on. And then, as soon as morning comes, I have to brush them all over again! Despite all of that, you know what I’d hate even more? Being toothless. So I do what I have to do, even though I don’t like it. Our lives are full of obligations that we don’t love but we do anyway. That’s why they’re called “obligations” and not “fun stuff.”
2. No excuses
Let’s just stick with the tough love part for a moment. Yes, I know your life is busy. Yes, I know you’re juggling many responsibilities and maybe even kids too. Yes, I know you barely make it through each day and don’t see how you can possibly cram anything else into it. None of that matters. If you look for excuses, you will find them. As soon as you decide that you don’t get an out, never, no matter what, you’ll notice that you’re resourceful in ways you never imagined. It has to get done. The work required to support your lifestyle is not optional.
Believe me, I get it. I don’t have a limitless budget, a chef, a trainer, and endless free time. I’m a working mom who juggles a million things day-to‐day, probably like many of you who are reading this. But most of your excuses are just that, excuses, not legitimate reasons to skip out on your plans.
There will be times where things fall apart. That’s life. But they should be very few and very far between. As part of my job as a reporter, I’ve witnessed communities going through real obstacles, most often in the wake of a disaster. I’ve seen families go weeks without power or running water. I’ve witnessed others forced to sleep in tents or their cars. Sometimes their entire livelihood is on the line, as was the case with so many of the Louisiana fishermen I spent time with during the BP oil spill in 2010. Those are real challenges. But please don’t tell me you had a bad meeting with your boss and that’s why you stopped at the drive‐thru instead of cooking yourself a healthy dinner.
3. Know Thyself
The last rule of planning is to know thyself. It is really important to be honest about who you are, what you like and don’t like, what your biggest strengths and weaknesses are, and what you are and aren’t likely to do. Remember, the goal for all of this is success, and the best path towards success is to work with your nature, not against it.
If you really, truly despise cooking, how can you ease the pain? Can you devote a few hours on Sunday to preparing food for the entire week? Would buying a crockpot help?
Are you really going to workout late at night after work? Really? Be honest with yourself. If work wipes you out and you’re tired every night, that is not the time for a workout. On the other hand, if you’re a night owl and look forward to a good stress reliever after a long day, then that might work for you.
Will you really wake up 20 minutes early to pack your gym bag and food for the day? Or will you hit snooze twice, eat up all of your extra time, and head out the door empty handed? If you naturally wake up early and bum around reading the paper and sipping your morning tea, then great, do your packing in the morning. But if you’re the type that’s always running late and dashes out the door like your hair is on fire (like me), then don’t kid yourself. Pack your bag at night so you can grab it and go.
Don’t be afraid to tweak your strategy as you go. You may learn things about yourself that you didn’t know, and will need to adjust accordingly. If you’re consistently having a problem, just stop and think about it. If you always miss your planned morning workout, then maybe mornings aren’t the best time for you (more on that in a minute). Maybe you can go at lunch instead. Or maybe you’re not getting enough sleep and the problem would be easily solved if you went to bed an hour earlier. Just because something doesn’t work right away doesn’t mean you can’t find the right solution eventually.