Once a Cheater, Always a Cheater Can Apply to Healthy Living

One thing I noticed on my journey to eating a wheat free/gluten-free diet is that consequences matter. For me, the decision to restrict my diet in this way is mostly about health. I do not have celiac disease, and I don’t believe I have a gluten allergy. For some of my mom friends though if their child got ahold of a single Cheerio or Teddy Graham they could have serious health issues as a result. “Cheating” on the gluten-free diet does not even occur to those moms, even if they are away from their children, but the consequences are less severe for me. We see the same thing on the Biggest Loser over and over when someone is motivated to lose weight after a medical professional tells them their weight is killing them. What are the consequences for you for not sticking to your goal?

If you are good at self-talk and rational (REBT) thinking, you can use the consequences to your advantage. Maybe it won’t hurt me to try the famous sugar cream pie, but how will I ever really track the effects of gluten on my body if I don’t eliminate it entirely for at least two to three weeks? If you are tempted to skip a workout, you probably won’t see a reverse in your progress, but you can remind yourself that you could feel guilty or lethargic or even lose the habit entirely since every time we “cheat” we are practicing the opposite of the habit we want to reinforce.

I’ll be disappointed in myself may not be enough when you’ve had a really long day or your best friend wants to chat or you want to finish reading The Hunger Games. Skip once and you will do it again. Suddenly you’ll find yourself as someone who sometimes goes to the gym rather than someone who routinely goes to the gym. Considering the consequence of possibly losing the habit may be enough to motivate you to do even a shortened workout.

What are your goals? What are the consequences of not completing your goals, both immediately and long term? What’s the worst possible scenario? When you’re trying to motivate yourself (but not if you catch worry running away with you), it may actually be helpful to focus in the worst case consequence.

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