When you decide to become a healthier person, you take on the responsibility to chart and then follow your own course to success. Many of us have been taught that someone else needs to carry us to our goals, and that it is perfectly acceptable to give up whenever it gets tough. This difficult path to success allows you to stay in the passenger seat, so each time you go off course you need to find your way back from the starting line.
Our no fail plan enables you to create your own vision of what you want, see a way that you can get there, and continually course correct so that you are always making progress towards your goals. The holiday season may be the most difficult time to stay on track, and there are usually numerous setbacks before we arrive at our new year’s resolutions. This year let’s chart our course to avoid the holiday storm and sail straight to our finish line! Let’s get started.
1. Is your course even charted?
A simple yet powerful quote by an anonymous author states: “If you’re not sure where you’re going you’ll probably end up somewhere else.” Often we decide on our destination but head out without the proper provisions or mapping the journey. The first step to being successful is knowing what you want AND how you can get there. Decide what your goals are from now until January 1st (or the end of your holidays) and list why they are important to you. Stay specific about health, wellness and your diet. Make sure those reasons come from a place of feeling, not just thinking, and the motivation comes from within you, not from someone else.
When we celebrate our successes we release happy hormones like dopamine which tell our brain the choice we made was a good one. This is particularly effective when we reward ourselves regularly for reaching benchmarks we hit on our way toward our big goal. These rewards should be experiences and gifts we find very pleasant and a bit unpredictable. For example, a spa visit when you tell them what you need and a price range but not the exact details of the services. Or, you give your food specifications to a nice restaurant, but don’t tell the chef exactly what to prepare. The slight element of surprise is a dopamine hack that increases the satisfaction of the prize.
On the way to these benchmarks we also need to honor our small wins. Take a page from a parenting book and make it a habit to focus on the positive and praise yourself for the good choices while ignoring the bad. This trains your brain to chemically reward the positive, so you can naturally shift away from your vices. What are you going to give yourself if you reach your goals? Make a list of the things you want to achieve, create some specifications for measuring success, and decide what you will get if you follow through. Also schedule several daily notifications to shower yourself with compliments and acknowledge your wins.
If you are a WILDFIT Challenge graduate you know a big part of your success plan is solidifying your Seasonal Ratios and Food Categories for each. What Seasons are you visiting between now and the end of the month? Have you given yourself some time for variety and treating yourself well? Is there balance and abundance? If you are visiting Fall, are you clear on your dates? What is the plan for these days? The more specific you can be about what you are eating on these days, the less ability your Food Devil and Sugar Monster will have to take advantage of you.
2. What stands in your way of reaching those goals?
Now that you know what you want and how you are going to get there, we need to plan for obstacles. When it comes to food decisions, what usually blocks us from success is emotional eating, struggling to cope with stress or trying to please others rather than being true to what we want for ourselves.
Visualization is an effective tool to know what to expect and create strategies to win the day. You can imagine yourself in a difficult social situation, in front of an attractive dessert table, feeling the discomfort of being in isolation, or anything you fear will stand in your way. This will gauge your emotional barometer, measuring the pressure you will feel when faced with the real thing. This rehearsal will help you discover when you will falter, feel resistance and understand what your food dialogue will be before that pressure becomes real.
Close your eyes and go through a scenario in which you know you will be tempted to go off course. If you have trouble with visualizing, just recall a similar past experience in as much detail as you can. Imagine yourself, what you are doing and feeling, before, during and after the event. Picture the people and food that will be there. What will the people say? What will the food smell like? How will it make you feel?
Go through it in its entirety, listening for the dialogue around the food and your choices. Can you see what could go wrong? Now repeat the same exercise but imagine that everything is happening exactly the way you want it to. Notice how this outcome makes you feel about yourself and your decisions. Finally reflect on the differences between the two visualizations. What can you do to close the gap between them? This answer will give you instructions to prepare yourself to stick to your plan.
For example, maybe you feel quite prepared to have no dessert at the party and expect that you will simply say ‘no’. However through your visalization you realize that once the pie and cake are on the table and everyone else is eating, you feel pressured and deprived. This causes you to end up having a few bites off of your partner’s plate, then feel shame and embarrassment that you couldn’t keep your conviction. In the second visualization you decline with confidence, but realize you need to have something in front of you that makes you feel abundant and included or you need to avoid it all together. You can then take action in reality and prepare a WILDFIT friendly dessert to share during that weak moment or have prepared a reason to excuse yourself from the table before dessert is even served.
Maybe you are anticipating being far from the family and friends you always spend the holidays with, and visualize yourself eating alone when you would normally be sharing a feast. You feel the loneliness and sadness that will come up, and hear a dialogue about comforting yourself with the traditional foods your mother would be making. Or, you realize that you will seek out heavy, sweet foods that will numb and soothe in the moment but make you feel worse and no less alone. In your optimal visualization you see yourself filling your day with activities that will soothe, distract and nourish you, plus help you feel closer to those you are missing. You can then take action to schedule a walk with a friend, sign up for a masterclass, pick up a new inspiring book to read in bed, and organize a Zoom dinner with your family.
Can you see how this one simple strategy can change everything? Being prepared and celebrating your success are a winning combination to cruise towards your health goals this month. Also remember that it can feel good to share your success with others as a WILDFIT ambassador. They can celebrate with you and become inspired by how you choose to live. Do you have any winning strategies you use to stay on track? Please share them with us in the comments below!