Monday, October 10, 2011

Getting Your Clean Eating Groove Back

It happens to everyone. You are on track, minding your own Clean Eating business. You have the best of intentions. You have a goal. You have a reason to improve your eating habits.

Or at least, you had a goal. You had a reason. Past tense.

Suddenly, you are staring at the empty bowl of ice cream wondering why you ate it. Why couldn't you stop yourself? Where did your path go?

First of all, don't beat yourself up. Falling of the Clean Eating wagon - even running behind it for a bit - is par for the course. It happens to the strongest willed. It happens to those who are deeply committed to eating healthier to change their life.

It happened to me.

The past month or two has been difficult for me, particularly at night. I've found myself eating inappropriate foods. Snacking out of boredom. Lowered daily water intake. Higher sodium intake. Not journaling my food intake as I've been doing for well over a year. *sigh*

The scale told the tale.  I gained weight. Not a lot in the whole scheme of things - but for someone so previously committed to Clean Eating...seeing the scale go up and up was disheartening. And every day, I was trying to publish a bright and thoughtful post about Clean Eating. Why did this happen? I'm not sure. Stress. perhaps? Missing pizza and chocolate a bit too much? A little melancholy over days long past where I ate carelessly. I ate what I wanted, when I wanted - consequences be damned.

I have a clear and strong goal in my mind. It is a personal goal and I think of it as a measure of my growth as a human. I was there, and now I am here.

My son got a less than glowing interim report concerning his math scores. I talked to him about his goals - and how to reach them. What did he need to do reach his goals? More importantly, what was he willing to change in order to reach his goals? I felt like an ass. Talking the talk but certainly not walking the walk.

In the past week, I've been strictly on path, as I was at the beginning. Writing everything down. Drinking water until I think I'm about to float away. Low sodium, high fiber and nutritious. Eating heavily in the mornings and afternoons, sparse at nights. Feeding my machine in an appropriate manner.

The scale has reflected my renewed effort, and I am feeling like I'm back in control.

1. Focus on why you started Clean Eating in the first place. What is your personal goal? Why are you committed to eating healthy? What is it that started you on this path in the first place? Did you feel like crap from eating poorly? Did you realize you couldn't keep up with your children? Your spouse? Your job?

2. Cast your mind back to the things that allowed you solidly to get on your Clean Eating path. For me, it was journaling my food intake and seeing my mistakes. It was identifying "danger zones" that tempt me to eat inappropriately ( being by myself at night - I'm a bit of a night owl compared to my husband, and being out and about doing errands on weekends by myself .)

3. Do what you need to do to remind yourself of your renewed effort. I've got a few sticky notes in key places. One of them is just a few inches from where I type this. It hangs from my computer monitor and it says "You aren't hungry. You are bored, tired, or thirsty." One is on the mirror in my bathroom, and it says    " You look great. Keep up the good work."

4. Reward yourself for good behavior. We are humans, and we ultimately respond to reward and punishment. Obviously, rewards are preferable. In the past week, I've indulged myself a bit. I've done some personal things just for myself, and have rewarded myself with other things, because of my new focus on Clean Eating. As I say to my son: "Good behavior, good rewards. Bad behavior? No rewards."

You CAN do it. You just need to remember why you want to walk down this path, and that worthy endeavors are rarely the easiest choice.