Most people don’t like admitting mistakes. I won’t pretend that sharing mine makes me happy. It is embarrassing to confess d’oh moments to others and makes me feel vulnerable. We like to show our best sides, our most capable sides, to the world. Not our warts and pimples. We do everything we can to mask those bad boys from the world. Or our social media feeds. But when it comes to making mistakes around food, I’m an expert, and want to share a few of my learnings.
My weight has fluctuated since high school. I’ve never really been “thin” or what I felt was my ideal weight or jean size. There have been times I’ve been quite heavy and other times where I was close to my weight goal. Like many chronic dieters, I’ve lost plenty of weight to only regain it back. Sometimes slowly, but eventually those extra pounds always found their way back to my belly, thighs and hips. Frankly, I wish they would have gotten lost. Now that I am owning up to past mistakes and making changes, I am convinced this time they will finally lose my address forever.
4 Common Diet Mistakes to Avoid
I doubt any of these will surprise you. What I do hope is that you’ll be honest with yourself and assess whether you’re making the same mistakes too. And most importantly — not give an excuse as to why your situation is different, as I did repeatedly. To instead, accept and figure out what you need to do going forward. Otherwise, the dream of getting healthy will just remain a dream.
You Don’t Know What a Healthy Diet Looks Like
This can be a tough one because lots of people have varying opinions on what constitutes a healthy diet. Many people, myself included, will latch onto some popular diet, without doing the research first. This leads to:
- It actually being more of a fad, then a sustainable healthy diet. It could even be dangerous, long-term. Be wary of those fad diets that celebrities shill. Never forget that in most instances they are getting paid to promote it and may not even truly follow that diet.
- It’s not a good fit for you. If you won’t follow their guidelines, because it restricts food groups you love — such as dairy, beans, grains and so on — and have no problems digesting, then it’s probably not the right one for you. This does not mean the diet is unhealthy but the degree of difficulty may make it impossible for you to succeed.
I’ve followed fad diets that ultimately didn’t work and may have done more harm than good. Some diets are so restrictive that it was a struggle for me to follow them, which lead to me cheating. Believing I failed (when I had not), I gave-up and went back to eating whatever I wanted.
To Do: Even more than choosing a lifestyle diet to follow, I would first recommend that you educate yourself on what a real portion size looks like. It is probably much smaller than you currently consume. Just simply getting your body adjusted to eating right-size portions will make a huge difference.
You Didn’t Follow A Meal Plan
Everyone always talks about how great meal plans are. Me, I never had much use for one. Oh, that’s right — because I ate every meal out. No wonder I have thunder thighs. 🙂 Even though I finally started making meals for myself, I was still a bit slow to jump on the meal plan bandwagon. It seemed fussy. Plus, I wasn’t always sure what I wanted to eat or make when dinner was only a couple hours away, much less a week or more in advance. Still, smart people that I respected were adamant that it would make a difference, so I tried it and it didn’t work for me.
Of course, it didn’t work for me because I put minimal effort into making it work. But once I actually gave it a fair shot, it did make a huge difference. I saved money because meals were planned around what was on sale. It lessened my cravings for restaurant food, even though I still enjoy dining out, but now it’s a treat, not the norm. It got me back in the kitchen and helped me launch Eat Laugh Purr.
Bonus Benefit: Meal planning also really gives you a bird’s eye view of what you eat every day, which can be eye-opening. I didn’t pay attention initially because I was more focused on following my meal plan, but I am paying attention now. My diet is excessively carb-heavy, which is something I plan to fix. I also need to eat more veggies, fruit and milk (or calcium).
You Over-Shared Your Intentions or Kept Them Too Secret
I don’t necessarily suggest you tell the world because the world can be very judgmental. Obviously I told the world my intentions, so now you think I’m being hypocritical. Let me clarify: if you plan to broadly share your intention to get healthy, then you must also be mentally prepared to deal with any judgment you receive without running to the cookie jar. The sad reality is that there are people in your life, for whatever reason, who will respond unfavorably to your commitment to get healthy. Whether deliberately or unconsciously done, they won’t support you but instead sabotage your efforts.
The flip side is if you tell no one, then you lack a support system, which you also need. My advice to carefully select a small group of people to tell. Ideally, people who have gotten healthy themselves. They will know both the bitter taste of defeat and sweet taste of success.
Food for Thought: If you are hesitant to tell anyone your plans, I have a question for you: Are you afraid they won’t support you or are you afraid to be held accountable? There were times when I told no one my plans because then I could fail privately or give-up without people knowing. In other words, I likely always intended to quit.
You Think Every Mistake Equals Failure
I wish getting healthy was as easy as just wanting it. Or we could will it to happen. Sadly, it doesn’t work that way. We have to commit, replace bad habits with good ones and do the work ourselves. This also means that mistakes and setbacks will happen. We might skip a day of exercise, inhale a quarterback-sized portion of spaghetti and meatballs or stop following our meal plan. Every time I made a mistake in the past, it became an excuse to quit. Proof that I failed and might as well give-up because this was obviously not the year I was going to get healthy.
And with a mindset like that — where it was seeking an excuse to quit — it should surprise no one that I didn’t succeed. If I was lucky, I maintained my weight. Sometimes, I wasn’t lucky. We have to find that balance where we don’t let our mistakes or setbacks derail our efforts while also not shifting blame to others or trying to justify our behavior. We must own our actions. This is a very tricky balance. You owe it to yourself to figure it out, because even though you may make the occasional mistake in your journey to get healthy, it is worth the effort. Don’t let a mistake, no matter how big or small, stop you.
What mistakes are you guilty of when it comes to getting healthy? How did you overcome them?