PRITIKIN PROGRAM TO STAY FIT AND SLIM: POINTERS HELPING TO OVERCOME SOME SLIPS
Here are a few pointers to help you overcome slips that emotional setbacks sometimes lead to:
- Learn to identify high-risk situations that might pose a problem for you. This is really just preparing for the future. The events or circumstances that give rise to negative behavior are usually regular occurrences - even if, in the heat of the moment, you think you're being totally "spontaneous" and that "this has never happened to me before!" Take some time to figure out what circumstances usually prompt you to binge - holiday celebrations or reunions, new job assignments, having to cope with something difficult either at home or at work.
- Take steps to prepare for challenging situations with positive action. Once you've identified what usually throws you off track, be prepared with alternative courses of action: What alternatives might you choose instead of eating (or smoking or drinking or slacking off on exercise)? Be specific about these alternatives to negative behavior beforehand; don't depend on your future self to know what to do in a difficult moment. At the height of a challenging situation, it's easy to develop tunnel vision - no options seem available! Remind yourself that you can do a quick breathing exercise, fix yourself a cup of herb tea, take a walk around the block.
- Learn to recover from the first slip. Remember what we said about learning from mistakes - it's not the end of the world if you slip! You can always return to the Pritikin program, starting right now. See if you can learn anything from the slip itself: Can you identify what led up to it, something you never realized before? Ask for more support from family, friends, and colleagues; let them in on the goals you're trying to achieve, so that they can help you and root for you.
- Remember that change means more than making one decision. This may be the most important realization you can make, and it's certainly central to the Pritikin program. Good health comes as the result of the intermeshing of so many different factors - a good diet, a good exercise program, a good handle on the challenges of life - and each of these factors means making what are often small but crucial changes in what you eat and how you live (like walking rather than taking a cab or bus, or using a splash of vinegar instead of a splash of oil).
Also, healthy change will never come from addressing only one disease risk factor. To address the whole body and all of the health risks you face, you've got to make changes where fat, cholesterol, and sodium are concerned (in the proportions as well as in the sources of the foods you eat) and in your activity level. There is no magical quick fix! If there were, believe us, we'd be the first to tell you. Weight loss and good health come about permanently only when you've brought them into being slowly and steadily.
- Reinforce positive efforts. If you tend to be a perfectionist, you're no stranger to that insidious inner voice that tells you you're never doing quite enough. Learn to talk back by saying "I'm doing as much as I can to get better!" Every time you've made measurable progress, reward yourself - with a gift or a short trip or just a pat on the back.
- Strive for balance. In the same way that the Pritikin program addresses all the known risk factors for heart disease, cancer, and diabetes, we want you to have an all-encompassing vision of your own life and activity. Too much of any one thing will cause damage, imbalance. Consider a typical day in the life of the average overstressed, overworked person - unfortunately, not much harmony or equilibrium there! But changing that may not be as hard as it seems. Sometimes you can restructure your day by the simplest of means: Get up a little earlier so you've got some time to organize your thoughts or to meditate; take a few minutes in the middle of the day to do some invigorating stretches; close your office door for ten minutes just to close your eyes and relax; plan ahead so you know there will be time for a leisurely, healthy meal when you get home. There are any number of options that can begin to restore the balance in your life. Remember, it's not enough just to want to change your behavior - you need to help yourself along. There's a lot you can do to make your surroundings more amenable, and it will probably take a lot less effort than you thought.
Winners face life with a positive attitude and know how to get back on track when they get off - that's what all these pointers are about. The trick is to become conscious of what you're doing to and for yourself, so you won't backslide unwittingly. And that's the reason for our next suggestion - to become aware of your progress, and to celebrate it!