Optifast, Medifast, and HMR are hardcore programs that demand hardcore focus, and in return deliver serious results. But what if you’ve never been hardcore before where food and exercise is concerned? I’ve got you covered! Here are some of the mental tools, tricks, and ways of thinking that have helped me through a medical diet plan in the past and might help you if you’re currently participating in one of these hardcore weight loss programs.
1. First things first: police your environment. Put the food you CAN have into one place, like a cabinet that’s just for your food, and make that the only place you go looking for food. Keep non-program food hidden away and don’t go looking for it. One way to do this is to…
2. Create 2 categories in your head – your program food, and food that’s irrelevant to you. Yes, your kid/partner/co-worker can eat whatever he or she wants but what she’s eating? THAT’S NOT FOOD FOR YOU. You have to get your mind focused on creating a category of food that is FOR you – the stuff in your food cabinet – and stuff that is NOT FOOD FOR YOU – everything else. See if you can make it a mental game or trick to consider non-allowed food inedible – to you it’s made of plastic. “That cookie is inedible, it’s fake food that’s not for me, so I don’t even need to look at it. All my nutritional needs are being met by the program, I need nothing else.”
3. Do you have a slightly obsessive personality? Use your obsessive personality to get obsessed with your program – you know how when you cheat and you hate yourself it’s so dreadful? See if you can turn it around – if you focus really hard on planning, tracking your intake (journaling), doing your exercise, drinking your water, looking forward to your next meal of things you can have, you will both drive out the thoughts of things you can’t have, avoid cheating, and have no time for hating yourself. I used to hate myself all the time, like, it was an obsessive 24/7 job, but I found that focusing on making sure I was doing my program right quieted those voices and changed them into something supportive instead of corrosive.
4. Delayed gratification – if you’re good at it, then it should be easy to put it to use. Something looks tasty? It’s still going to be there when you’re done with this program. The world is not running out of (whatever thing is tempting you). Remind yourself that you already know what that temping thing tastes like – you’re not missing out on anything new or different or novel. (and most of the time, it’s not that great anyway – certainly not worth the feelings of remorse and hate that come with it)
5. Try not to let yourself get too hungry – if this means you have to eat your food at odd hours, do that, particularly if you have no choice but to be dealing with tempting foods – don’t handle them hungry. Make sure you’ve fed yourself before packing the kid’s lunch.
6. Hot beverages can quell a lot of cravings. I like hot green tea when I’m feeling cravings for something I can’t have. Tea in general is pretty good for that.
7. Chewing gum – sugarless gum. Pop it in your mouth when you’re craving something, usually the taste will wipe away the craving and give you something to do with your mouth.
8. If you have an episode where you get off track, the best thing you can do is accept that it happened, and use it to strengthen your resolve to not let it happen again. Don’t beat yourself up for too long. You’ve gotten it out of your system now and know how bad it feels so you can move forward even stronger, right?
9. Try breaking the cheating routine. If you know that certain situations or times of day lead you to stray, instead of trying to brute-force your willpower through them, change the script. You always wander to the refrigerator when you get home from work? Work stress makes you want to reach for chips? When you feel that urge, lace up your walking shoes and go for a walk around the neighborhood. You’ve taken yourself out of the situation and changed the scenery – nice!
10. Try not to get too bogged down in why you have overeaten in the past, or why you’re tempted to cheat. Focus on the present and your process. I have a thing I like to say, “WHY I eat doesn’t matter, WHAT I eat is what matters.” Instead work on your skills for avoiding tempting situations, planning ahead for each days’ food and exercise, and meeting all your program’s requirements. These are actions you can take that will build skills you’ll need once the program is over and you’ve started maintaining.
These aren’t meant to be the ONLY way, what I’m doing is trying to throw out a few new ideas or perspectives you might consider putting into your toolbox. Take what works, leave what doesn’t. I’d love to hear some of yours in the comments! How do you stay on track? What tricks, skills, and perspectives do you use to stay focused and on track?