This is something I think the majority of us have suffered from in the past - “I’ll just start again tomorrow/ on Monday/ next month…” It’s often linked to dieting and exercise, but in life you can never really start again. We carry our life experiences, thought patterns, stories and beliefs with us, even when we ‘start again’. Sure, we can enter into new chapters of our life, new phases and new seasons, but we’ll never start again. It’s neither a good thing or a bad thing, it just is.
So, how can we shake this start again mentality? I’m not insinuating that this is a quick shake off. It takes a lot of time and patience and can often require guidance and help from a therapist or coach, but this will most definitely get you thinking and the journaling prompts will really help you become aware of the role dieting and exercise plays in your life.
Let’s trace it back. Starting again comes from the belief that we have ‘failed’ at something. We’ve set ourselves a challenge, a set of expectations which we haven’t reached. Often times we haven’t researched and thought extensively on the goals we set, so were they actually achievable to begin with?
Going back a step further, these goals that we have set, are they based on restriction or punishment? How do restriction and punishment make you feel?
How many times have you “fallen off the bandwagon” in the past? Set eating plans are often about the foods you can’t have. They focus on calories, fat, portions and restricting specific ingredients. This restriction plays with our minds, it makes us want something even more when we can’t have it.
What about letting go of the idea of dieting all together? If there’s no bandwagon to begin with, you can’t fall off. This takes time to adjust to, it’s about learning to eat intuitively and mindfully, tapping into our body and listening to what it has to say to us. It’s about shutting out the messages we receive every day from the media regarding dieting. It’s relinquishing control - control the diet industry has on us in order to take back control of how we choose to live our life.
What about exercise? Do you think of it as punishment to ‘burn’ off something you ate yesterday? I bet that makes you feel awful, I know it used to make me feel riddled with guilt until the stairmaster told me I’d worked off enough calories. What if you were to be kind to your body instead? Move in the ways you enjoy? Maybe go for a walk with a cup of tea in a thermos flask? Maybe a dance or two around your living room? What about a gentle at home session of yoga on a blanket with a candle or two after a busy day at work? How would those things make you feel?
In order to delete the start again mentality, we have to completely let go of whatever we think we’re starting again. There is no start again, there is just living - adapting and changing our life to live it intentionally and fully.
Are you educated/qualified/knowledgeable/wise enough to set the original goal that you failed at? That’s totally personal and something your gut instinct will tell you.
Did you fully take into account your current life situation, the time you have to follow through with the goals?
Why did you set the goal? What influenced you?
How have you felt in the past when you have “fallen off the bandwagon”?
What types of movement make you feel all kinds of wonderful?
How does the idea of letting go of dieting and exercise for punishment make you feel?