January is the month when many of us choose to “start our plan.” We will “eat perfectly” and “work out every day.”
While I love the enthusiasm, I want you to proceed with caution. When we use an all-or-nothing approach to diet and lifestyle, changes generally fail.
In my vast experience helping patients change dietary habits, I have found that black and white thinking is the number one thing that leads to failure.
Here is a common scenario: Jane wants to lower her risk of kidney stones by losing weight. I explain each element of the kidney stone diet and create some goals for Jane to work on. We set an appointment to meet again for two weeks out.
During this time, Jane is doing fabulous. She monitors her sodium and added sugar, eats less meat protein (she was eating way too much due to her Paleo diet), limits her high oxalate foods, and gets in her calcium requirement. She calls me at the end of week two after losing 4 pounds and feels motivated and outstanding! She tells me that she’s “got this.”
She says she will go it alone, and that she will remain committed to her long-term goals.
Flash forward two months. I see Jane on my upcoming schedule and look forward to hearing about her continued success. When we speak, she is deflated and depressed. She tells me how she got derailed.
“I was doing so well. I lost another 6 pounds so my husband and I went out to eat. I felt so great about my progress that I ordered whatever I wanted, including apps and dessert. When I got home, I was so disappointed with myself and my failure that I continued to eat. What is the point now? I screwed up my diet. I can never stick to any diet.”
This example is what I hear every single day from my patients. I am here to tell you that you needn’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. Anyone who has worked with me in the Kidney Stone Prevention Course will tell you that I am always screaming the words “Eating a healthy diet doesn’t mean we can’t have treats!” Enjoy yourself. Don’t beat yourself up and quit. Just get right back to your healthy lifestyle with YOUR NEXT FOOD CHOICE.
We must break the defeating cycle of:
I broke my diet.
I am broken.
To feel better, I eat unhealthy comforting food.
I am broken.
To feel better (and so the cycle goes).
You CAN break this cycle. A healthy lifestyle makes you happy AND healthy. Sometimes a cupcake will be part of your diet. It’s ok. Just get right back in the saddle. That’s how we do it! We are not on or off a diet. We are always practicing, and practicing means we have our favorite snacks sometimes. It’s the only way we can stay compliant for the long haul.
Congratulations on committing to changing your eating habits and workout routine. Ensure it is not too rigid—plan for celebrations and fun things to eat. That is very much a part of this lifestyle.