Though they seem earth-shattering at the moment, small slip-ups in diet or exercise do not indicate a life doomed to mediocrity and failure. Everyone slips up on the quest to overcome old habits and adopt better ones, whether it is eating healthier, working out more, or stopping an addiction. Small relapses are a part of the process by which we become better.
Alan Marlatt, a professor of psychology at the University of Washington, has said that it is normal to make mistakes on the road to learning a new habit or lifestyle. Falling down once from learning to ride your bike did not cause you to give up entirely on cycling, did it?
The biggest indicator of success in changing is how quickly we get up after we fall. Those who do not recover from a lapse are those who have an unhealthy attitude toward failure. For the successful, lapses can even be viewed as motivation to be better next time.
When you have lapsed, act like an investigator rather than a judge by determining why you slipped up. Was it the environment? The timing? The people around me? Is my body trying to tell me it is missing a nutrient?
You alone are responsible for your decisions, but outside factors can help you reject temptation next time. Not only does this analysis remove roadblocks on your way to achieving your goals, but it reveals that lapses are not the result of an innate character flaw on your part.
Once you have identified what triggers your lapse, you are free to determine what strategy to pursue in order to navigate around those situations in the times to come. Avoiding negative stimuli is probably the best bet to prevent future lapses.
If the stimuli cannot be avoided entirely, think of ways to work around it. For instance, maybe you have a craving for French fries on the drive home after work. You can still commute the way you prefer, but you might pack protein bars in your car for when you are hungry. Think about the reason behind wanting French fries. Is your body saying it needs more folate or potassium? Consider taking a vitamin and nutrient system that covers all of your needs, such as Kyani.
Even if we feel our strategy is perfect and capable of weathering any storm of temptation that would cross our way, it is wise to have a plan to bounce back after a relapse. It may seem counterintuitive to expect a relapse in the future, but it is the reality of progress. After all, how can we account for a friend’s passing, a lost job, or any other tragedy in our initial strategy?
Common bounce-back strategies include confiding in and reporting to a friend or someone who is working on a goal themselves.
In order to stay on track for success and achieving your goals, carry a card to remind you of the beach you want to visit during the summer or remind yourself of the high school reunion in the near future you want to be in shape for. Use friends and family as a support group to keep you accountable and help you become the person you want to be. Do not forget to keep in mind those who do not support your goals, and plan how to deal with each person in a positive, constructive way.