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Go easy on yourself!

This week I’ve seen a few clients experiencing the common problem of ‘coming off the rails’ due to one thing or another. Disagreements with people, serious illness in the family, too much work on, or a hectic social life. It seems that perception of behaviour in response to these events is key to the behaviours that follow.
For example, if you had a stressful day and ate or drank far too much as a response to that stress, then you could view that as a lapse in your generally healthy lifestyle and feel a normal sense of guilt for a little while before returning to your better routine, or you may view it as a total disaster and consequently feel so demoralised that you ‘write off’ the next couple of days. So, your perception of how ‘bad’ your behaviour was will influence what happens next.
I think it is wise to expect that you cannot be perfect. There will be times when sticking to your exercise and eating plan is difficult, therefore, allow or expect lapses which you can view as transient, understandable blips, from which you can recover quickly. As Stu was saying in his blog this week, you need flexibility in your plans to allow for changes when life events intervene, (e.g holidays) sometimes for extended periods. Do not be hard on yourself but adjust your expectations and be confident of returning to your plan as soon as you can. Dwelling on minor slips could lead to depressed mood and a further downward spiral of negative actions.
In addition to perceiving a relapse in your ideal ways as a mere lull, having realistic expectations of behaviour means adherence to them is more likely. If your lifestyle aims are set too high then in all probability you may not be able to adhere to them. Over enthusiastic dietary goals leading to ‘derailment’ could be turned into a positive by observing what didn’t work, and hence what alternative ideas might work better from then on.