Last week I held a free tele-seminar and had the opportunity to answer some great questions about coping with overwhelming feelings, how to get motivated to exercise, and tips for dealing with stress and economic worries. We also talked about some of the mindsets that people mistake as “helpful,” but can quickly sabotage attempts to take control of emotional eating, weight loss, or adopt other healthy lifestyle changes.
Here is my short list of mindsets and mistakes you’ll want to avoid to prevent sabotaging your plan for change:
1. Perfectionism. I’ve covered this one before, but it bears repeating. Perfectionism — the belief you have to get it perfect in order to be successful — will sabotage a plan for lifestyle change (and may trigger emotional eating) faster than any other mindset. It’s not possible to be perfect and the pressure a perfectionist puts on herself is entirely unrealistic and unhelpful.
2. Go big or go home: Taking steps that are too big, trying to do too much too fast is a quick and easy way to overwhelm yourself. Even if you can take big steps in the short run, drastic change is a jolt to the system and can be very difficult to maintain for the long haul. It’s generally better to take small consistent steps you can gradually integrate into your existing life and way of doing things.
3. Choosing the plan you “should”: Taking on a plan that doesn’t honor who you are, what you’re good at and what you do and don’t enjoy? Think carefully about a plan that will work for you before you try to make yourself work a plan that might not be workable. The more any new plan of action meshes with who you are and what you enjoy, the more likely you will be to remember the new behaviors, to be consistent with them, and to gradually develop changes that will last.
4. I just need to eat healthy food: Choosing a diet or program that tells you WHAT to eat, but doesn’t help you figure out how NOT to overeat? Success requires the necessary tools — all the necessary tools. You can’t build a house with a screwdriver but no hammer.