In my work, one of the first things I let my clients know is this: When you start out, dieting/training may be fairly easy because you are highly motivated, and then as you practice certain skills more and more, dieting/training gets easier. But at some point, it will get more difficult. This is normal and inevitable and it happens to everyone.
I let clients know that when this happens, it doesn’t mean that you are doing anything wrong, and if you keep pushing through it will get easier again, 100% of the time. The problem is that most of us don’t know that dieting is supposed to get hard at some point and when this happens you might panic, think that something has gone wrong’ that it will continue to be hard, and it’s just not worth it. And then what happens? You give up. But this giving up is entirely unnecessary because dieting and training will get easier again if you keep doing what you are doing.
What you can do when dieting & training gets hard:
1. Create an Advantages List & Make Sure The List Doesn’t Feel Stale.
During hard times it’s usually more difficult for us to remember just why it’s worth it to put in the necessary time and energy, so it’s important that you frequently remind yourself by reading your Advantages List. It is also important for these lists to resonate with you and to feel fresh and inspiring. If you have been reading the same list over and over again, it may start to feel robotic. To help with this, try strategies like rewording your list, add new items, read just the top three each day, take a few minutes to really visualize some of the items, etc.
2. Think About Past Experiences.
When you are going through a harder time, you often forget how good it feels when you are in control of your eating/training. If you take time to really think about a recent experience when you stayed in control and remembered not only how good it felt, but also simply the fact that you were able to do it in the first place, it can help remind you that dieting/training is not always so difficult and that, most of the time, it feels worth it.
3. Focus On The Basics.
When dieting/training gets rough, it can be helpful for you to take a few steps back and concentrate just on some of the most essential dieting skills, like reading their Advantages List, reading Response Cards, eating everything sitting down, and giving yourself credit. Doing so can help you regain your focus and also feel more confident about what you are doing because you already know you can do these things.
4. Respond To Unhelpful Thinking.
Often when you are going through a hard time, you have lots of unhelpful thoughts like, “This is so hard, I just can’t do it,” and, “It’s not worth it to me to continue trying to lose weight.” If left unanswered, these thoughts can lead you to give up so it’s critical that you take time to identify what unhelpful thoughts you are having, make Response Cards, and practice reading them every day. For example, you can remind yourself that:
- The things on my Advantages List are worth fighting for so just because it’s hard doesn’t mean I should give up. I’ve worked hard and accomplished other things in my life that weren’t immediately easy, and I can do this, too.
- Hard times always pass. This is temporary and as long as I keep doing what I’m doing, it will get easier again. Just keep working!
5. Give Yourself Credit.
Sometimes when dieting/training gets difficult, you forget to give yourself credit for all of the good things you are still doing. This is particularly likely to happen if you are only focusing on how hard or bad things feel. When going through a hard time, it’s critically important for you to give yourself credit because you often begin to lose your confidence and sense of self-efficacy and question whether or not you can really do everything. By recognizing the things that you are still doing, and doing well, you can fight against this and regain (or maintain) a sense of pride and achievement.