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 Last week we talked how excited and motivated we are when we first begin a healthy eating and exercise plan but we often find that excitement fading when life gets too busy and hectic. We learned from Step One – Learn To Get Back On Track Right Away that’s it’s not so much about having enough willpower or motivation it’s more about having a plan for those days when you’ve had a set back.  You can read the whole post here: Healthy Holidays – Your Setback Strategy  

So let’s move on to Step Two: Learn Strategies To Prevent Screw ups. Most screw ups on the road to a healthy lifestyle don’t just happen. Are you surprised?

Usually it begins with a high-risk situation and a series of events or behaviors that could have been stopped, changed or prevented.

Let’s start with a situation. Let’s buy a cake for a dinner party.

Well, that’s probably our first oops. With all the wonderful magazines, online recipes and healthy diet plan cookbooks out there you easily make something that is every bit as delicious as a fat riddled calorie laden cake. But it happens.

We ran out of time and bought a cake. Maybe Aunt Edna demanded a cake.

At the dinner party we allow ourselves a small slice of cake. No big deal. One slice of cake is not going to make or break our healthy habits. My nutritionist/coach taught me that no food is off-limits and it’s ok to have a small portion of a favorite food. Taste and enjoy.

Our guests get ready to leave and out of the goodness of our hearts and because we know what could possibly happen if a cake stayed in our kitchen too long we ask Aunt Edna if she’d like to take it home.  She eyes us suspiciously and states she’s watching her 93-year-old figure. Oy. So we leave the cake on the counter and wonder if Aunt Edna set us up.

Put the cake in the fridge, in the back of the pantry, in the basement or in your husband’s sock drawer. He’ll thank you later.

But we leave it on the counter, in plain view. Aunt Edna didn’t set us up.

We go to sleep and wake up about 3 a.m. to get a drink of water. We could have a drink from the bathroom closest to our bedroom but no, we’re creeping out to the kitchen to see the beautiful cake on the counter. We get a drink of water, turn to leave and suddenly we feel the urge to eat. Surprised?

Notice I didn’t say we felt hungry. The “urge” to eat is much, much different. What’s happening is that damn cake is calling our name, like some crazy mermaid/merman of the Caribbean.

We NEED TO LEAVE the kitchen NOW.

By the way, the “urge” to eat lasts about ten minutes. We could go back to bed and wake up feeling great knowing we resisted temptation. Yippee!

Instead we eat three pieces of cake very, very fast. Now we feel guilty AND we feel like a failure and this isn’t even the end of the story.

We go to the next step and label ourselves. I don’t know how many of my girlfriends have told me they’ve been “bad.” Labels lead to feeling hopeless.

Feeling hopeless leads to losing our motivation and our desire to go after what we want. More setbacks can follow, the weight will pile on or the exercise will fall to the wayside.

Each time you’re in a situation and practice a strategy like placing your trigger foods out of sight, or refusing to label yourself, your ability to use another strategy when you need it increases.  Healthy lifestyles require healthy habits and to build healthy habits we need our strategies.

If you’re pretty far along on your healthy journey, some or most of your trigger foods won’t call to you anymore because they no longer interest you. It’s true, this really does happen. Cravings for me are few and far between.

However, I don’t believe for one moment I have this healthy lifestyle thing down pat. I don’t live in a vacuum and neither do you.

Trigger foods do make it into my house.  If it’s in my house I make the decision to put it out of sight or I throw it away. It’s automatic now. I don’t leave any food on my counter in plain sight unless it’s fruit. I see these strategies as acts of self-care.

As you read the cake story, did you see yourself doing any of these things? Were you able to think of other strategies other than the ones presented here that would work for you?  Next week we’ll learn some strategies on dealing with pesky trigger foods.

To get you primed for a healthy holiday, here are some  links I found for you.

Excellent article from Linda Formicelli on Good Life Zen – The Key To Fitness and Healthy Weightloss  and after you read Linda’s article head over to her wonderful blog, HappyFit Coaching.  I’m a new subscriber 🙂 For great advice on enjoying the party buffet go to Cooking Light and watch their Holiday Buffet Strategies video.  Not the same old, same old “choose a smaller plate” stuff.  Next week, Step 3 Identify Your High Risk Situations 

Have a healthy week!