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How many times have you heard someone say, “I cheated over the weekend!” Or “I was bad – I ate a cookie”. Maybe you have even complained about how you “blew it and cheated”. I’ve seen diets with “planned cheat days” and I cringe when I hear it phrased in this way. The language and words that we use have a big impact on our focus and how we view ourselves. Do we really need to add more negative images around how we deal with food?

Cheating is defined as acting dishonestly to gain an advantage. Why do we equate eating a cookie with being dishonest, and what advantage are we gaining? None that I can think of. How have we as a society hijacked whether we are good or not, whether we are worthy or not, based on what we eat.

I prefer using the words zig and zag instead. It’s terminology that I learned from Tony Robbins that works perfectly to describe “on” and “off” days. Zig and zag. There’s no judgement and it doesn’t make us right or wrong. Most days I zig, which means eating foods that align with my health goals and that fuel my body.

Occasionally I zag, which means eating food that may have limited nutritional value but brings me pleasure. Zagging is about moderation, enjoyment and balance. It’s about eating food that is enjoyable in small quantities. And I know that if I zag too much it actually decreases my joy in my life. I don’t feel my best.

If we are going to make peace with our bodies and food, we can’t allow the food we eat to determine if we are good or bad. Really, it just boils down to choices. When a client tells me they ate something bad (meaning it didn’t move them closer to their health goals) I ask if they enjoyed it. What I mean is, was it a conscious choice to deviate from the plan and enjoy the food? Or was it an irrational decision caused by a trigger?

Of course, there are varying degrees of behavior here. One situation might be eating a cookie and another might be eating a whole bag of cookies. Obviously there are deeper issues at play when we scarf down the whole bag of cookies in one setting.

But if you choose to have a cookie (or whatever your favorite indulgence is) then at least enjoy what you are eating! For goodness sakes, it’s just a cookie! There shouldn’t be any moral judgement about eating a cookie!

Some people might say that I’m getting all hung up on semantics. But the words we use, matter. They go deeper to our core than what we realize.

Zigging and zagging has a dance quality to it. Or a yin and yang feeling. No judgement, no pressure, no condemnation. It’s about enjoying life. No cheating here!

February is already here, so how’s your progress on those New Year’s Resolutions? If January is all about wiping the slate clean and getting a fresh start, then once February hits we should be well on our way to positive changes, right? So how effective have you been in tackling your new priorities? Are you on target? Or are you beating yourself up because you’ve slipped? Or have you already forgotten the commitments that you promised to yourself!

If you’re not where you had hoped to be, give yourself some grace. You are human. Now, pick yourself up off the floor and let’s start thinking about a new strategy. Do you need to change your approach? Would it help to find support? How about reaching out to someone who’s been successful in overcoming the same issues you are facing? If you have health-related goals, have you ever considered working with a health coach?

I have a framed quote on my desk that was given to me by my sister five years ago when I started making big changes. It says, “We cannot get what we’ve never had unless we’re willing to do what we’ve never done.” It’s a great reminder to me when I get stuck, that trying something new might be required in order for me to move forward.

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So if you do not see the progress you want, why not shake it up and develop a new strategy? Reach out to someone that has a plan, someone that knows how to navigate the difficult waters and can provide support.

As I’m sharing the concept of wiping the slate clean, I’m going to give myself the same grace. Here it is. I’ve been beating myself up because last fall I failed miserably with my commitment to share posts about my personal 90 days all in health challenge. It’s not that I wasn’t successful with dropping the stress weight that I had slowly put on. In fact, I lost 28 pounds in 90 days, during a time period that included two trips. But I didn’t follow through with my intention of sharing my results on a weekly basis as I had planned so that others could follow along, be inspired and join me.

You see, I hate being in the spotlight! I have a huge heart to help others, and while many people have told me how inspiring my story is, I shy away from sharing because it means the focus turns to me. So here’s my fresh start. I’ve re-worked my plan and developed a new strategy for sharing with others. And I’ve enlisted some outside support so that I will follow through on my commitments.

Hmm… That kind of sounds like I’m taking my own advice! What about you? Are you ready to try a new approach to help you reach your health goals? I am here to help.