When it comes to creating peace with food, I spend a lot of time helping women break a cycle of 1) working to make changes, 2) “blowing it,” and 3) starting over (only to repeat the cycle again and again). You’ve probably been on that hamster wheel and you might have discovered that you can end up heavier and more discouraged than before you started trying to make things better.
I’m such an advocate of ending the “starting over” cycle that I recently released a free training on how to do just that.
So I see the irony in writing to you about how to start over on Monday.
But here’s the thing.
I just started a new, crisp, clean blank book. I love that feeling. Even though I no longer have school-age children, I love the “fresh start” feeling of Fall and the back to school return to routine.
I’m a sucker for creating a plan, and I do love the feeling of a fresh new week.
And I just created a program that capitalizes on that momentum of “starting over on Monday.”
Am I a hypocrite? I try not to be.
The truth is, there is a way to start over (and over, and over) that is really just a hope-sucking vicious cycle that can even make things worse; and there’s a way of starting over (or, as I prefer to say, restarting), that can actually help you build momentum and motivation and get better, longer term results.
The Right Way to Start Over on Monday
The right way to start over is not taking a look at the wall you’ve been repeatedly running up against, taking a deep breath, and charging at it once again. But sadly, that’s what a lot of smart women do when they want to stop overeating or lose weight.
Key modifications can make all the difference. When you’re ready to start over:
1. Take a deep breath
Pause. Breathe. Get yourself into a place where you are ready to create action intentionally instead of by reacting in panic or despair, or frustration. Reacting tends to happen with little thought. Reactions tend to be made up of old, familiar behaviors, and old (often not helpful) ways of talking to yourself or thinking things through.
It’s easy to fall into reaction mode if you’re stressed, tired, busy, or overwhelmed. Take a breath. Decide that you are going to take charge of how you move forward and “start over” this time.
Stopping, breathing, and creating a sense of purposefulness sounds like a no-brainer. But it’s probably the most common step that smart women skip when they want to change their eating. This step is so important, that in The Emotional Eating Toolbox Program, our first month’s training is all about putting this foundation in place. We don’t dive into strategies for comfort eating or stress eating until we’ve done this. We start where you want to end up – with a program called How to Make This Plan, Your Last Plan. Starting over the right way is important. Don’t skip this step!
2. Take a look at what’s been stopping you
Have you been hitting a wall? Before you do anything, take the time to get familiar with your obstacle. Running out of steam? Ask yourself why. Flaking out instead of staying accountable? Ask yourself what you need to keep your butt in gear.
Starting over is an exercise in frustration when you’re doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting to generate different results.
Starting over becomes a powerful step forward when you leverage what you’ve learned in the past to take a better path this time.
Create a process for examining what’s working and what isn’t. Check in and evaluate every week.
3. Break things down
As impatient as you may feel, lasting results come from an approach that you can maintain and stick with and contrary to common perception, we accomplish more when we focus on one thing at a time. Don’t be afraid to take small steps or to target one overeating or emotional eating challenge at a time. In The Emotional Eating Toolbox Program we break down one topic (like how to use self-care instead of emotional eating, or how to lose habits of overeating at the end of the day) each month instead of trying to tackle everything at once.
When you give yourself permission to keep your actions do-able and focused, you may be surprised to find that the impact is actually broader than you expect.
4. Brace your do-able steps with the tools you need and accountability and support
When you start over the right way, you start by considering what’s tripped you up in the past, and you do your best to address these concerns proactively.
Given what you already know, what tools or skills do you want to strengthen as you start over this time? How would you rate your ability to stay accountable to your commitments? Do you need help with this?
Always take the time to evaluate your support system when you’re starting over. Taking the time to consider ways to expand your support and make sure that you are taking advantage of the support you have always pays off. In the Emotional Eating Toolbox Program, we support each other in a private, members-only group. Members share their goals, their do-able steps, ask for feedback or help when they face a challenge or hurdle, and share their wins and their epiphanies. Change is so much easier when you don’t feel alone or as if you need to reinvent all the wheels, all the time.
5. Create a plan to learn from missteps and falling off track so you can keep moving forward
There’s a hidden benefit in starting over. It’s one we’re leveraging in The Emotional Eating Toolbox Program. The benefit happens when you use “starting over” as a way to reset mentally and to refresh or adjust your new behaviors and habits after you’ve evaluated your progress and missteps so far.
In The Emotional Eating Toolbox Program, we accomplish this through a one-week on, three weeks off training cycle. That means we spend one week each month absorbing new training and putting new habits in place (each month the training is on a new topic, relevant to creating lasting peace with food). After that week of training, we spend three weeks, using these new habits and approaches in real life. That three-week period teaches us what habits are working well, which ones need more reinforcement (or support or accountability), and which approaches just aren’t doing it for us.
After three weeks, we “start over” (on a Monday of course!) by learning from how we’re doing and layering on another do-able set of actions and strategies with a brand new 7-day training program.
Give yourself permission to fail and to find out what doesn’t work for you. Use this information (it’s gold) to get clearer and clearer on the approaches and actions that fit you the best.
When you allow yourself to learn and grow from your mistakes or “screw-ups” by getting curious about what doesn’t work, and what does, you’ll see much better results.