How to prevent your diet (or exercise routine) from derailing

Life gets in the way. Doesn’t it? How often do you plan to do something, but then, something else comes up? And then that thing that you wanted to do gets put on the back burner?


I always kind-of laugh to myself when I make a big ‘life decision’ because it always seems like the universe conspires against me to make it not happen. What typically happens is that I’ll decide to make a change, and then 3 or 4 other events happen at the same time that make my situation that much more stressful.


The best example of this I can give is when I moved from Chicago to Austin to live with my husband, Gary.


Granted, moving across the country is already a HUGE, stressful event. But the reason I was moving was to be with my husband because we were in a long distance relationship, and decided that if we were going to try to make it work, we might want to think about living in the same city.


Okay. Great!


But I didn’t stop there. We decided to move in together.


And buy a house.


Yes, I did this with a man whom I’d been dating (long distance, mind you) for 5 months! <- I think I was crazy! And to anyone thinking about doing this: Don’t.Do.It!


We took a gamble, and it paid off.


But there were certainly things – very stressful things – that were working against us:

  1. My Mom passed away from Breast Cancer
  2. My family was NOT happy that I was moving in the midst of her illness
  3. I was laid off
  4. I couldn’t sell my condo


I did get another job very soon, and did sell my condo pretty soon afterwards, but all of this happened in the span of 3 months or so.


And I remember thinking, should I postpone the move?


I don’t know if I should have or not. But I do remember thinking to myself that there is never going to be a good time.


If you look for reasons to not do something, there will always be a reason not to do it. Something will always get in the way.


And this is also true with starting a new eating plan, or recommitting yourself to your exercise routine.


There’s always going to be something that is going to eff with you.


There’s never going to be a perfect time.


So, what do you do?

  1. Plan. PLAN PLAN PLAN! Yep – if you know anything about me, you know that I love a plan. And the plan can change, but if you have a plan, and then a contingency plan, and a contingency plan for the contingency plan (wait. What?) you can navigate those sticky situations that are going to get in your way.
  2. Acknowledge to yourself that there will be bumps in the road. And, as best you can, list out all of those things that you think can get in your way. Seriously. Get out a piece of paper, and list out all the things that can eff with your plan. Do it. Do it now.
  3. Be flexible. I think that when folks hear that I plan everything, it’s easy to jump to the conclusion that I’m rigid & militant about the plan. But the truth is, I need to be pretty flexible in my planning. If it’s raining, I’ll go to the gym to walk instead of walking outside. If someone is using the equipment that I need to use for my workout, I’ll do a different exercise. Planning is great, but it can’t stop there.
  4. Get creative. So, this goes along with the flexible step. So, you just started a new diet and you have an unexpected out-of-town trip. You can get creative with eating at restaurants. If your diet requires that all you eat is chicken & vegetables, order that at the restaurant. Your only choice is McDonald’s? Order a chicken sandwich, and a salad. Don’t eat the bun.
  5. Be tenacious. I attribute much of my success to being tenacious, or focused. If you let one obstacle or barrier block your success, then quite frankly, it wasn’t something that you wanted anyway. By having stick-to-it-ness, if you screw up one meal, you have another in a few hours where you can redeem yourself. Just get back on that damn horse.


What really makes the biggest difference in creating change in your life is resilience. Because change is never easy, and there’s never going to be a good time to make the change.


We’re most vulnerable to getting off track when we start a new habit or behavior. Resilience is the antidote. And sometimes it feels like the universe is testing us. Just when we feel like we’ve ‘got it handled’, the universe throws a bunch of crap at us just to see if we really do have it handled.


We pass the test if we are able to muddle through the struggle, and emerge sticking with our new behavior.


By having a plan, acknowledging that it’s not all going to be smooth sailing, being flexible, creative, and tenacious, you can weather the proverbial storm that the universe sends out to test us.

Saturday Night Live's Roseanne Rosanadanna
Saturday Night Live’s Roseanne Rosanadanna


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