I have a problem. I tend to swing to extremes on the weight loss front, from eating pizza, pasta and ice cream for a week straight, to declaring I’m going to go paleo for life and run a half marathon in six months.
It’s silly and, worse, it sets me up for failure.
Last night, for example, I went to dinner with friends and used it as an excuse to go hog wild. Jon and I split chips and queso, I had a burger and fries, AND I had a strawberry margarita. It was all really fun for 20 minutes. But then it turned to shame (not to mention physical discomfort) for hours–not worth it.
So what did I do? My first inclination was to make a sweeping declaration that I was going to go on a carbless diet for the rest of my life. Ridiculous. The second I said that, I found myself wanting French toast for breakfast.
So instead, I decided to take it one day at a time. TODAY, I am following the Fittest Loser eating program. It is clean eating, with two whole-grain starches allowed before 3 p.m. and no starches afterward. It’s a really healthy, whole foods-focused program, and when I followed it, I was in the best shape of my life.
But if I declare that I’m going to follow that plan for life, I’m going to go grab the ice cream in the freezer and rebel. When I take it one day at a time, I can tell myself that I just need to do it for 24 hours. The idea is that I’ll do the same thing tomorrow and it WILL become a long-term goal. And when I DO make the choice to have a slice of pizza, it will affect only that one day, and I won’t be devastated because a giant lifelong goal was just derailed.
If I decided to run a half marathon today, I’d get outside and fail within 15 minutes. But if I decide that I’m going to run a mile today, and I do that each day for a long period, one day I WILL run that half marathon.
Like The Tortoise and the Hare reminds us, slow and steady often wins the race.