13 ways in which I’ll fail my first of 10 challenges.

Failure is always an option. You’d better be prepared.

Two weeks ago I wrote a post about 10 challenges that I plan to chain until I reach 40, about 800 days from now.

I refocused my first challenge already in the second day from “low-carb” to “eat for the right reason and cut the fast-carbs”. And that’s because what I really want is to stop eating for the wrong reasons (whether it’s feeling overwhelmed by work, not liking to throw food away, reflex, etc) and to stop eating foods that trigger sugar spikes.

Today I’m sharing the most important thing that I did in the first two weeks out of the 80 days that I have for this challenge: I’ve prepared for failure. This is indeed not the first time that I set to change my habits, so I know really all the ways that I can fail. I also know that it’s usually two weeks into the process that I do fail. So I put together a list of 13 difficult scenarios and for some of them I practiced a way to deal with them.

1. Having a problem I don’t know how to solve

This happens especially if I’m at work and I have to solve something that I’m not very sure how to solve. In those moments I very often spring of my chair and go snack on something.

Alternative: just stop, and tell yourself that it’s normal to have problems at work, you’ll always have them and it’s not a good enough reason to snack.

2. Seeing someone else eat (i.e. my kid)

I sometimes snack just because my little one is hungry and I have to give her something to eat.

Alternative: use the “urge surfing” strategy. Feel and accept your desire to eat and believe that it will go away. Actually taking a piece of whatever that is to hold and play with (without eating it) might help with “riding this wave”.

3. Not wanting to throw food away

I have much respect for all the energy that was put into bringing food all the way to my fridge, or that that my husband put into cooking something, and I have a bad conscious to throw food away.

Alternative: imagine that your body eating something that it doesn’t need is really also a garbage bin. Do you really want it to be that? What does a tomato really care about what garbage bin it falls into? What’s really important is the peace of food is useful or not. Being eaten by a human doesn’t directly imply that it was useful.

4. Making a cake for someone else

While I’m not so tempted by food that someone else made I have a harder time to not eat something that I made myself.

Alternative: make less cakes, and if you do make them and if you’re tempted use the “surf the urge” technique (see #2 above).

5. Having guests

When we have people over I often feel that I can “make an exception” because this “is special”.

Alternative: prepare yourself for the temptation the day before and remind yourself how important it is to not fall off the wagon even when friends are over. Remind yourself that what you really enjoy is their company and not the food that you eat. Prepare something very yummy that is “slow-carb”.

6. Being invited for dinner

If we’re invited somewhere and there’ll only be pizza there I feel weird to “make a scene” and require something special.

Alternative: Bring something for the apero (nuts, small tomatoes) or even a salad. If possible share your diet with the people that invited you. Remember how important this is.

7. Seeing food

I’m not so often tempted by food just because I see it but it does happen. For example, if I come back home and there are some things I didn’t expect on the table I might eat it.

Alternative: Put it away. Or take some in your pocket (i.e. I noticed that if I keep chocolate on my desk with the intention to never eat it’s so easy to not eat — if I’d do that with the intention to eat it later I wouldn’t be able to do it)

8. Reflex, automatism

I recently caught myself opening the fridge, taking a salami out and cutting a slice. Why? I have no clue. I was not hungry, not stressed, not anything.

Alternative: Practice some mindfulness to be conscious that you didn’t want X but it was mysteriously triggered.

9. Wanting to eat more than usual during the meal

If I do manage to control all this snacking I sometimes tend to eat way to much at meal time.

Alternative: When you think start doubting whether you should eat more prepare some tea.

10. Being mad at someone

If someone hurt me I feel entitled to have some chocolate to “make it better”.

Alternative: Tell yourself: This is just you being hurt and if you eat that you’ll only hurt you more.

11. Being mad at myself

If I’m mad at myself I want to hurt myself and to break my rules.

Alternative: Practice self-kindness so that you are not mad at yourself. Especially if you’re mad because you failed on your diet.

12. Forgetting how important this is

I’m always super motivated to take on healthy habits when I see the damage that my bad habits have on my body, especially if, as a diabetic, I don’t manage my sugar levels. However, as soon as those numbers are on track I tend to give less importance to my eating habits.

Alternative: Repeat to yourself “Don’t forget how important this is”.

13. Failing because I’ve failed

The final one is the most dangerous one. I might fail once. But this shouldn’t be a reason to fail again. If I eat 20g of chocolate, is this an excuse to eat 20g more?

Alternative: Practice self-kindness, practice some controlled failures. Repeat to yourself that “failure is an option” and failing one time doesn’t have to destroy all your dreams.

About the importance of preparing for failure and about “riding the wave of desire” I heard in a talk of Kelly McGonigal about Willpower Instinct.

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