When we started this challenge we wanted to make a positive lifestyle change, and incorporate some of the lessons we learned into long-term habits. We feel good when we eat sugar-free and we want to continue being a better, healthier version of ourselves for LIFE.
But being completely sugar-free may not necessarily be the most sustainable option, one that you can be successful with for the rest of your life.
In order to be successful in making a positive lifestyle change, we need to have realistic goals and expectations for ourselves. You may need to work out some guidelines. Is eating cake at a friend’s birthday party acceptable? Is having a healthy homemade treat once per day acceptable? Figure out what you feel comfortable with to avoid setting yourself up for failure.
“Big things often have small beginnings” Lorna Jane Clarkson.
Look back to the start of our Move Over Sugar challenge a few short weeks ago. How far have you come since then?
How many of your short-term and long-term goals have you reached? How many habits have you changed? To prevent falling off the bandwagon, and becoming discouraged, it is important not to forget or disregard the little things. When you think about all the little things that you have improved upon, you are less likely to get discouraged about reaching your ultimate goals.
Re-evaluate your goals
Now may be a great time to take a look at your goals to see if you still believe that they are reasonable for your individual wants and desires. Are your goals still relevant to you, are you still inspired to reach them, are they still attainable? If you have one larger, long-term goal, it may be better to break it down into smaller goals so that you are continuously making small achievements. Can you add new goals to your list? These are all changes you can make to ensure that you are still on the right track to getting to where you want.
“A goal properly set is halfway reached” Abraham Lincoln.
Going sugar-free should be a lifestyle change. Splurging occasionally is not going to have much of an impact on health in the long term if you already have a great diet, which is why the 80/20 rule is a great guideline to live by. Be good 80% of the time with your diet, and the other 20% leaves room for those times when you go to parties, when you don’t have your lunch prepared or when you just feel like some homemade chocolate shortbread.
Hold yourself accountable
Create a means to hold yourself accountable to your sugar-free goals. This might be tracking the goals and challenges yourself, or getting a family member or friend on board. You could write a journal, start a blog or Instagram account based on your journey, or enlist the help of a sugar-free mentor.
Change your mindset
You are more likely to be successful at going sugar-free if you don’t think of it as denying yourself of pleasure. Instead of associating refined sugar with enjoyment and happiness, you may need to remind yourself of how these foods really make you feel; lethargic and emotional, not to mention upsetting to your gut and a compromise to your general health. You don’t necessarily have to deny yourself of pleasure, but just change your mindset to associate feelings of pleasure with homemade sweet treats, long walks or watching a movie instead.
We have known for quite some time that rewards strongly reinforce ‘good’ behaviours. And there is no shame in rewarding yourself for all your hard work. You may want to reward yourself after reaching every milestone with a massage, or some new LJ!
Ditch the discouragement
Explore the reasons why you are feeling discouraged. Have you encountered some challenges and setbacks recently? You are not alone. Again, think of how far you have come, and how far you want to go. Challenges are all a learning experience, so accept them and take what you can from it.
Sometimes supermarkets can be too much of a temptation. Why not test out your new tastebuds at your local Farmers’ Markets? The bright colours of the produce only makes you want to eat more delicious fresh veggies. It’s all to do with creating a supportive environment for yourself.
Always plan ahead
Planning ahead reduces the need to rely on packaged and processed foods. Bringing lunch to work doesn’t require you to queue up in line to get to the smoko van to feast on highly processed, sugar-laden foods.