With Thanksgiving comes food, lots and lots of food – everything from turkey and stuffing to pumpkin pie and a whole lot more. For those on a diet, it can be the most challenging time of the year. But you can stick to your diet and not turn into a stuffed turkey by using something I call mental toughness.
Mental toughness is the ability to take control of your emotions. It’s about using a logical thinking process to focus on the goals you’re really after. The best diet and exercise routines in the world will yield no results whatsoever if someone doesn’t have the mental toughness to stick to them, and gives into the temptations of the season.
Here are a few mental toughness strategies everyone can use at Thanksgiving and year round.
7 Ways to Stick to Your Diet
1. Get a Friend
If you’re really serious about your weight loss and health goals, get a support system in place or someone who can hold you accountable. Some people refer to it as a weight loss buddy, but no matter what it’s called the idea is simple: helping each other remain compliant when there is an abundance of opportunity to make bad eating choices.
Related: 7 Fat Loss Tips During the Holidays
2. Just Say No
When Aunt Carol offers you a piece of her homemade pecan pie, it’s okay to politely decline. This time of year, many people have a hard time letting go of their approval addictions, or worrying about what other people think of them.
Say something like, “Thank you, Aunt Carol. Your pie looks delicious, but I’m really committed to achieving my weight loss goals this year and I’ll have to politely decline.”
3. Feed Your Visions – Not Your Belly
Bad food is everywhere this time of year, so we need constant reminders of what we really want to accomplish. The best way to do this is to create a vision board.
A vision board is simply a poster board filled with pictures of lean, fit and sexy people, along with words that inspire you. Hang the vision board in a very visible location where you are forced to see it over and over again. If temptation strikes, turn to your vision board and remind yourself what you’re fighting for.
4. Have a Plan
If you show up at Thanksgiving dinner without a plan, you’re more likely to succumb to eating unhealthy foods and eating more than you should. Thanksgiving is simply an obstacle in the road that you must navigate, so be ready by having a plan in place.
Maybe it’s eating a small snack prior to dinner; maybe it’s filling up on water which is good for you anyway; or maybe your plan involves asking your spouse to make you a plate with controlled servings.
Whatever it is, always have a plan.
Related: 8 Things Healthy People Do
5. Create a No Cheat Zone
If you’re serious about it, then create a no cheat zone even at Thanksgiving. This means we see 99% compliance as failure. You wouldn’t cheat on your spouse in a committed relationship, so why would you cheat on something as important as your diet? Cheating is detrimental to your diet because one bite here turns into a little more and a little more until you’re out of control.
Related: How to Get Motivated From Within
6. Get Really Clear
Most people are generalists when it comes to losing weight. If you ask them what their goals are, they’ll usually say, “I want to lose weight.”
Get specific and ultra-detailed in what you want.
“I want to lose 15 pounds of fat in my gut.”
“I want to improve my stamina and be able to run a half marathon next year.”
“I want to get out of my size 16 dress and fit into a size 8 in the next six months.”
The clearer you get and the more you can picture the goal in your mind, the more motivated you become.
Something very interesting happens this time of year: some people make excuses that because of the holiday season they can’t lose weight, while others sail right through the holidays with no problem. Those who make it through with no problem have developed the mental toughness and made the decision to get healthy once and for all.
Stop blaming outside factors like the season, and realize that you are the problem and you are the solution.
Steve Siebold is author of the book Die Fat or Get Tough: 101 Differences in Thinking Between Fat People and Fit People, and a mental toughness coach who has helped thousands of people lose weight.
Featured image by Steve A Johnson