It’s a slippery slope, that gear up mindset of “I’ll start tomorrow”. Our intentions are good – harnessing our energy to give it all we’ve got and fully commit with a clean slate. However, that mindset gives us permission to go hog wild until tomorrow – indulging to our heart’s content so that we’ve satisfied our urges before deprivation and restriction begin.
If only we understood that the “I’ll start tomorrow” mindset sets up us for failure in more ways than one. I can’t tell you how many times “tomorrow” has come for me and the day starts out fantastic – I workout, eat a healthy, clean breakfast and usually lunch too. And then afternoon comes – I’m a little tired, bored, hungry and craving something sweet. “Ok”, I concede, “one more day of crap. For real, I’ll start tomorrow”. I eat crap for dinner and the next “tomorrow” is weeks away and ends up looking the same as the last.
I lived in that routine for years. Sometimes I’d be “on” for weeks or even months at a time but then one “slip up” would turn into consecutive days or weeks of “I’ll start tomorrow” and having the damndest time regaining my momentum to stay on track.
It’s frustrating. I would work hard and then erase all my progress and often end up doing more damage – not just to my waistline but to my mindset and my metabolism. Not fun.
Fortunately, one day I had a paradigm shift. I was driving home from work desperately wanting ice cream (my weakness). Those “it’s just one day, you can be hardcore tomorrow” thoughts started to creep in and I started to wonder how it would be to look at this “I’ll start tomorrow” thing in the opposite way. What if I committed to eating clean just for today. Tomorrow, if I still wanted the ice cream then I could have it but just for today I am eating clean. Just for today I’m going to get my workout in. Just for today I’m going to say no to food indulgences.
I found that this one-day-at-a-time approach made it really easy to say no to those annoying cravings when it was merely a delay and not indefinite deprivation. So what happened the next day? I would start the day by reading my goals. Reminding myself what I was working towards and what was so important to me. My goals remind me of who I want to be and what I want to stand for. I made a commitment to myself to read them every morning, regardless of what choices I make after that. More often than not, reading my goals each morning would put me in a great head-space and I’d be able to say “Ok Elizabeth. One more day. Just for today, I’m going to eat clean. Just for today I’m going to get my workout in. Let’s deal with tomorrow tomorrow.” As those cravings would sneak up throughout the day I would take a mental note of what I wanted and remind myself that I could have it tomorrow. I can do anything for one day and just for today, I’m on point.
Over time, the momentum started to build. I felt stronger, I felt leaner. I was happier. I was less stressed. I was losing fat! I wanted that feeling to continue and that made it easier to have good, clean days. My cravings for sweets started to decrease and in fact, I started to crave more workouts. I started to crave my brussels sprouts and salmon. No joke! Sure, there are days when I indulge. There are days when I decide I need a mental break and I just want to enjoy some of my favorite treats. But when the next meal rolls around, it’s back to my mantra: “Just for today, I’m eating clean. If I want this tomorrow, we’ll revisit it then. Focus on today, today”.
When you’ve spent years playing the “I’ll start tomorrow” game, it can be tougher than it seems to transition to a “just for today” mindset but here are a few tips based on what worked best for me:
- Start right now. Get rid of that all or nothing thinking. If you think “Oh! This sounds great! I’ll start thinking that way tomorrow”, you’re only perpetuating the cycle. Today. TODAY. Just for today you’re going to make healthy choices.
- Write down your goals. It’s ok to start small here if you aren’t quite sure where to begin. What type of person do you want to be? What do you want your life to look like a year from now? How do you want your kids to see you? Write it out.
- Read your goals every.single.morning. No excuses here. Read them. Keep them front of mind and don’t miss a day of reading them. Revise them as needed. Add to them. Your goals can be fluid, its ok. Who you are and who you want to be will change throughout this process.
- Be honest with yourself. Don’t pretend that spoonful of ice cream you took from your child’s bowl didn’t happen. It happened. It’s ok. But make your next choice a good one.
- Lose the guilt. You are only one choice away from being on the right track. We can’t go backwards, but we are only a second away from a good, healthy choice.
It works. I’ve lost 130 lbs and I’m physically and mentally stronger than ever. I always have room for progress and improvements, but with this simple flip, I am mastering fat loss naturally by focusing on one day at a time. Just for today, I’ve got this.