If You’re Struggling to “Stick to” A Goal This Summer…
I’ve just returned from a 4-day trip to Sedona, AZ, a place that’s been on my travel bucket list for years. I spent the long holiday weekend hiking, reading on the gorgeous back deck of our VRBO, visiting natural wonders, and spending time with family.
I also ate a shit ton of salad.
Let me be clear: I love food. And for as long as I can remember, vacation, to me, has meant partaking in the culinary delights of whatever region I’m visiting. New must-try foods at every corner coupled with the wild abandon of the “What-the-hell-I’m-on-vacation!” mindset I’ve always adopted while away would lead to days on end of eating whatever and whenever I could (“I’ve never had THIS city’s pizza before!”). Sometimes, the food possibilities were what I looked forward to most about my travels!
And I actually fully condone adventurously enjoying our food, while traveling and every day. I think we women give ourselves way too much grief for experiencing this kind of pleasure, and we go into a very unnecessary battle with something that is meant to bring us joy.
The thing is, on this trip, I was smack in the middle of a 10-week program I’m following to get a handle on my migraines and my autoimmune disorder. So this meant following an uber-strict diet (no grains or corn, dairy, sugar, vinegar, legumes, tomatoes, or alcohol) as well as an extensive supplement schedule during a time when we were eating out every single day and everyone around me was having burritos and beer.
And I did it, Babe! I stuck to it!
Anyone who’s known me a while will tell you that I’ve tried these types of programs before, and usually quit around…oh…Day 2 or so. I wrote myself off as someone who just “couldn’t follow a strict diet”, or any diet for that matter. I was too weak, or too rebellious. I would tell myself that I would just have to medicate myself back to health; just let me have my pizza, dammit!
This time was different though. This time, I was approaching the program from the perspective and fierce commitment of my Fabulous Babe Self, the woman I really want to be (to learn about how to access yours, download my free guide, First Steps to Fabulous).
My Fabulous Babe Self does things quite a bit differently, and that’s what’s got me finishing up Week 3 on this program right now (instead of quitting by Day 3). And quite amazingly, I’ve done it pretty much with zero willpower.
I want to be super clear here that I think we women should enjoy whatever food we want whenever we want it. I think that the energy that we put into the struggle to control our bodies is a tremendous disservice to ourselves and the world. I believe we were meant to devote all that energy to our passions, to living fully, to leaving this world better than we found it.
I am following a strict dietary program currently for the unabashed love of myself and my health, to rid myself of daily pain, not to punish myself for not meeting some ideal that isn’t me. That’s the perspective from which I am writing this.
My hope is also that the following can be of some comfort and inspiration to you as well, if you have been kicking yourself for not being able to “stick to” something (whether it be a diet, a workout plan, or any difficult goal). Stop kicking. It’s not you. The way the world teaches us to persevere (willpower and self-criticism) tends to get us the opposite of what we’re going for. So we have to start doing things differently. Our way. Like, yesterday.
Here’s how my Fabulous Babe Self does it, which has helped me successfully follow my dream of having a vibrant, healthy body (even on vacation):
1) She loves herself
I could have put off this 10-week program until after this vacation. And after my next one in two weeks. And maybe after the summer, since corn is in season and all.
At any time, I could have decided that what I wanted in the moment was more important than what I wanted long term. I could have fussed about how unfair it was that I couldn’t just eat what everyone else could eat.
I used to do all of this.
This time, though, I had my Fabulous Babe Self, and she was in full control. She made a clear decision: “Look, this is your health, darling. Right now, we want nothing more than to be healthy, energized, and pain-free, so we can go out and kick major ass in the world.”
Her self-love, her fierce commitment to her own well-being won out over everything else. It allowed me to take a “no excuses” and “whatever it takes” approach to my self-care, and it actually felt GOOD. The feeling of taking care of myself at this high level felt empowering, and it gave me warm fuzzies to express my self-love in this way.
2) She is not afraid to set boundaries and advocate for herself
The number one reason I would stop following a healthy plan in the past was the fear of inconveniencing others and seeming “high-maintenance.” I didn’t want to be demanding of waitstaff or a party pooper to my friends and family.
To that, my Fabulous Babe self says, “OK, let me get this straight. You are willing to sacrifice your health and just continue to tolerate pain that affects you daily, so other people will be a little more comfortable? To avoid being a party pooper?”
She’s right. I had my priorities all wrong, and had taken my people-pleasing to an extreme.
My Fabulous Babe Self, though…she’s a pro at self-advocacy. On this trip to Sedona, she asked waitstaff the questions she needed to about the menu, and she requested the alterations she required, with class and confidence. She politely declined food offered to her that wouldn’t serve her. She packed herself healthy snacks and her own homemade salad dressing for the road. She looked at menus ahead of time and made restaurant suggestions to her loved ones that would work for her.
My Fabulous Babe Self doesn’t have an issue with being “high maintenance.” After all, most of us don’t maintain ourselves nearly highly enough. We all deserve to upgrade how we care for ourselves.
3) She gets her pleasure in other ways
This is huge. This may just be the biggest contributor to my success so far in “sticking to” this program.
I used to work excruciatingly hard. I was tough on myself and my days were made up of very little fun, rest, and enjoyment. For years, my body and soul were starving for pleasure.
So I’d have these hard, minimally fun days every day, and then I had to face the prospect of not being allowed to have pizza at the end of them (my one slice of pleasure in my day), and the thought was simply unbearable. I was ordering delivery by 5:00pm.
My Fabulous Babe Self knows that she requires pleasure in her life, and if she is deprived of it, she will find a way to get it. And, almost 100% of the time, it’s through food. Of course! It’s instant, highly-gratifying pleasure that seems to fill the enjoyment void in a matter of seconds.
But when my days are filled with lots of little moments of pleasure, getting it through food moves way down on the priority list. During my vacation in Arizona, I was spending time hiking, laughing with family, napping and reading, and totally absorbing the beauty of the area. I didn’t need the burritos and beer to feel like I was thoroughly maxing out my vacay.
Similarly, in my daily life at home, I now spend time doing work I love, enjoying breaks, spending time with loved ones, and always having fun plans to look forward to.
And lo and behold, I’m not ordering that pizza.
To your fabulous life,