The target I set myself (having healthy lunch every day this week) isn’t exactly an onerous one. However, just six days in and I’ve managed not to meet it.
Yesterday I was a bit hungover from an excellent Friday night of pints, pints, wine and pints, so I had a Magnum for breakfast (it’s one of your five a day, right?). Then for lunch my fella and I went to the awesome local Persian place for a late (and large) lamb stew lunch, mopped up with copious amounts of flatbread. Then dinner consisted of more beer, and leftover takeaway pizza from the night before. A sum total of zero healthy meals.
So how am I going to deal with this?
Well, my usual tactics for dealing with failure involve wallowing in self-hatred, starving myself as much as possible, then giving in and binging on all the junk food EVER while watching crappy detective series for hours on end. Now, even I can see that this isn’t an amazingly good example of how to react to a setback. So this time, I’m going to do something different.
I’m not going to react to it at all.
That’s it. Nothing. Zilch. Nada. I’m just going to carry on as if it never happened.
That’s right. If I react to every little setback – and casting my mind back to previous attempts to control my behaviour, there will be loads – by beating myself up, I’ll make precisely no progress. If I try to ‘make up’ for not meeting a target by being harder on myself the next day, I’ll get overwhelmed and stop enjoying the process of slow change. So I’ll just mark down in my calendar that I didn’t meet the target and the circumstances surrounding me not meeting it, and then carry on as if nothing happened.
Then if a pattern starts to emerge – maybe everytime I get drunk on a Friday night, or go out with friends on a Saturday, I’ll be unable to meet my target – I can look at how to deal with this. Perhaps I’ll need to make or buy some meals so they’re ready in the fridge to be warmed up in the morning. Maybe I’ll need to ban the corner shop from stocking Magnums (practical!). But for now I’ve missed one healthy meal, there is no pattern, so I’m not going to cry over it or second guess myself.
The nice change here is that, despite doing something that didn’t fit the plan yesterday, I don’t feel awful today because I’m not blaming myself for it. Which means I’ve gone right back into cooking my healthy meal for today without a sniffle. (Today was lamb stew, and it was pretty bloody tasty.)
Not beating yourself up: turns out, it feels pretty good.