First off, keep in mind that slips, those times when you “rebel” against healthy new habits, are a normal part of lifestyle change. More than 99% of people who are shedding pounds and becoming more physically active have slips. When we start anything new, from learning to ski to ordering healthfully in restaurants, we’re going to stumble.
Slips don’t necessarily hurt your progress. Even the biggest Oreo cookie binge is not the end of the world. What really hurts your progress is how you react to slips. Are you wallowing in Oreos – day after day? Or are you back on your feet again, dusting off the cookie crumbs, and heading in a healthy direction?
Here are 5 tips for what to do after a cookie binge:
1. Answer negative thoughts with positive ones.
Negative thoughts like “How could I do this to myself?” can be your own worst enemy. They fuel guilt, anger, and discouragement, undermining your ability to handle the slip or cookie binge effectively. Wipe them out with positive thoughts, such as: “I am not a failure. I messed up for 10 minutes. I can – and will – get back on my feet again.”
2. Next, ask yourself: What happened?
Use the General Patton problem-solving approach: “HOW DID THE OREOS GET HERE?” People tend to slip for different reasons. Which of the following might be the Achilles heel behind your cookie binge?
Social occasions – holidays, birthdays, vacations.
You’re happy, you’re feeling good, and your family mantra at celebrations has always been, “Oh, to heck with the diet. Have some fun.”
You’re home alone, fiddling around online or watching T.V. On the screen flashes a big juicy cheeseburger, and you find yourself wandering into the kitchen, snooping around for a little snack.
You’re home with family, and someone starts ranting – and frankly, you’ve heard it all too many times before. You want out. So you stomp out of the house for a spin through McDonald’s.
You’re behind on a project at work, and everyone’s on top of you to get it done. A co-worker passes by with a box of candy. Three chocolates are in your mouth before you know it.
If you can identify your weak moments, you can plan a strategy for handling the situation better the next time. Can you avoid it? Example: Don’t keep Oreos in the pantry. Stock your kitchen with healthy snacks like popcorn and fresh fruit instead. Or can you manage it in a better way? For instance, at the next holiday party, position yourself far, far away from the buffet table.
3. Regain control as soon as you can.
Don’t wait till the following day. Start now. Make your very next meal a healthy one.
4. Talk to someone supportive.
A good friend. A close family member. A coach. Remember: “Talk it through. Don’t eat it through.”
Know who your coaches are, and use them. A golfer whose stroke periodically slips returns immediately to the pro – his coach. At the Pritikin Longevity Center, you have particularly outstanding coaches – physicians, dietitians, exercise trainers, and behavioral-change experts. Many Pritikin Alumni know how to use them. As soon as they detect a breakdown, they’re back at Pritikin, deepening their understanding and motivation for healthy living.
5. Finally, focus on all the positive changes you have made.
The person who “blew it” today is the same person who has been successful many previous days and weeks. A cookie binge does not reveal the “real you.” The “real you” is involved in a lifelong commitment to eating well and exercising daily. Pat yourself on the back for your efforts, keep calm, and carry on. You’ll be so glad you did.
“Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fall.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson