One of the biggest reasons we fail at losing weight is that we don’t set ourselves up for success. Actually, in most cases, we insert obstacles in our path . . . without knowing that we’re doing it.
And because these barriers are invisible, we blame ourselves for the failure.
These repeated failures make us wrongly assume that eating healthy and losing weight are next to impossible. They also slowly erode our confidence – making it harder each time to succeed.
Then, in our desperate state, we rely our last resort and least-likely-to-succeed strategy: willpower.
Here are the obstacles we insert: lack of organization, no preparation, and failing to have a reward in place. Fortunately, these obstacles are easy to fix. And put together, they give you a feeling of control that leads to consistency and exponential results.
Feeling in control is critical, because when you’re not in control, you have to rely on willpower to accomplish whatever it is you’re trying to do. And willpower doesn’t work long-term.
Let me use an analogy to illustrate.
Say your goal is to climb Mt. Everest. There are multiple variables that would interfere with you accomplishing that goal, so your first mission is to be as in control as possible of the situation.
You would pack the exact right amount of gear to ensure that you had everything you needed, and your backpack would be carefully packed. You would have a detailed plan of which steps to take next, and you would prepare for each step – nothing would be left to chance. And at the end of each day’s climb, you would have a rest to look forward to after a long day of climbing.
Contrast that success scenario with its opposite: You have a disorganized backpack, with your necessary supplies thrown in with a bunch of crap you don’t need. You have no map and haven’t prepared for unforeseen variables that are sure to derail you. And you attempt to make the climb to the summit in one day – with no breaks in sight and no incremental rewards to celebrate your daily successes.
In this second scenario, all you have is your sheer determination to force your way up the mountain. Determination that would be in very short supply after just one day of climbing, because you would feel completely out of control of the whole situation and at the mercy of outside events – many of which will most definitely not be in your favor.
Doing it this way would be unthinkable and downright crazy, because it’s obvious how you’d be setting yourself up for certain failure.
However, this lack of organization, preparedness, and – most often overlooked – reward for effort are exactly how we set ourselves up for weight-loss failure.
The truly sad part is that we’re oblivious to all of it. That is why we feel like such a failure when we don’t succeed. We think it’s us and our lack of willpower. When actually it’s a simple case of removing the obstacles in our path – obstacles that we insert and that are easily removed.
Here is how to remove the obstacles, feel totally in control, and set yourself up for ultimate success:
Get organized. Behind every move you make is the powerful influence of your environment. How organized are you really? Do you have drawers with utensils and equipment haphazardly thrown in? Do you even have the right equipment at all?
If you’re disorganized, you’re going to feel overwhelmed. And overwhelm is the fastest path to giving up and eating whatever’s in front of you. (Double fail: if you’re disorganized, it’s likely that you have the exact wrong food in front of you.)
Your environment is like an invisible hand that pushes you to do what you do every single day. So if your kitchen is neat, clean, and meticulously organized, you are going to feel highly in control, which will help you feel in control around food and of how you eat. And it’s going to be easy for you to make the right choices.
You can actually set up your kitchen so that it makes decisions for you. I have a free guide that will show you exactly how to set up your kitchen for weight-loss success. Get it here.
Finally, if you’re organized, you can see what’s missing and fill in those gaps. Which leads us to the second step.
Have a plan and get prepped. It’s guaranteed that life is going to get in the way of all your best intentions. It’s not enough to decide that you want to eat healthy. You have to have a plan in place and prepare for the inevitable obstacles that will interfere with that decision.
How often do you decide to “be good” and by noon, your whole day has fallen apart? You’re late getting the kids to school, so you miss your work out, then you’re stressed and grab a few cookies – which means you don’t feel like making the salad you were supposed to eat for lunch. Then it’s the “I’ll start again tomorrow” routine.
You need to be prepped in advance to head all of this off at the pass. Spend an hour each night chopping up the greens and veggies you need for that salad, and have them ready to go in your (super-organized) fridge. Cut up the fruit you plan on eating for your afternoon snack so you’re not tempted to eat chips instead.
If the healthy food you want to eat is right there at your fingertips, ready to go, there will be no margin for error – and therefore no deviations from your intended path.
Reward yourself. This is hardly ever built into a healthy eating plan – mostly because we’re trying so hard “not to.” And it’s easy to do and fun to anticipate!
Ideally, you don’t want to reward yourself with food. But if you think of it more as “allowing” it works. The last thing you want to do is avoid certain foods or make them off limits – that’s the all-or-nothing mentality that’s deadly to making the small, incremental changes that lead to long-term success.
Take three pieces of dark chocolate, wrap them individually in foil, and put one each next to the meals and snacks you’ve got prepped in the fridge. (This also accomplishes the prepping piece of your success plan.) Now you’ve got something to look forward to as a reward for accomplishing your goal of eating healthy.
I like the non-food rewards especially. Head to the mall to buy some new yoga pants. Get a pedicure after your healthy lunch. Go to a café alone for an hour and read a novel. Or even just take a nap.
Life will make you feel overwhelmed and exhausted most days, which means if you don’t have a healthy eating plan in place, willpower is your only option. And life will for sure put obstacles in your path that will throw you completely off course – unless you’re prepped and ready.
Have the success foundation of being organized and prepared laid in advance. And give yourself extra motivation with a reward to celebrate the success you can be sure will be yours.
Fortunately, you don’t have to climb Mt. Everest every day. But making these simple tips a part of your daily routine will make you feel like you’ve reached the summit.