I want to talk a little more about personal responsibility.  When we make excuses for things around food and exercise – we’re taking the ownership off of ourselves and putting it somewhere else.  I honestly think excuses are just a way to self-sabotage… but if we’re really being honest with ourselves we would see that there is always something we can control about every situation.

For example – I went to Florida to visit extended family for Thanksgiving.  While my family lives in Florida – they are actually from Virginia… and they are very proud of their southern food.  And while their southern food is delicious – it is not even close to being healthy. I joked that there wasn’t a vegetable insight that wasn’t creamed.  Faced with this – I could have said: “well – there’s nothing healthy here – so I guess I’m not dieting today!”… but I didn’t. I talked to my coach, Emily, about my anxiety around the meal, and she asked me “what can you control?”  I thought about it and I realized I could control my portion sizes, I could control my alcohol consumption, and I could control how I ate the rest of the day (Thanksgiving is technically only one meal after all). I wasn’t totally powerless here… I could absolutely take personal responsibility for what was in my control.

What can you control?  This is now my new mantra when doing anything outside my routine.

Going to dinner with friends?  What can you control?

  • I can try to choose the restaurant if at all possible
  • I can look at the menu ahead of time and make my decision about what I’ll order before stepping foot in the restaurant.
  • I can also decide that I’m not going to drink alcohol or eat dessert.

Going to a holiday party at someone’s house?  What can you control?

  • I can inquire with the host/hostess what food items will be served and plan around that
  • Or I can eat a healthful meal before going to the party so that I’m full before I get there.
  • And I can always remind myself that I’m there for the company – not for the food.

Making decisions ahead of time takes the pressure off and will hopefully allow you to enjoy your time without stressing or obsessing over food.  And if you find yourself in a situation you weren’t planning on – you can still ask yourself “what can you control?” and make decisions from there.

The key to all of this is that you don’t beat yourself up, and you get back on track right away.  I didn’t eat well at Thanksgiving dinner, but I accepted that I did what I could and got right back on track with breakfast the next morning.  Every decision we make can either lead us closer to our goal or further away. Taking personal responsibility in your relationship to food will lead you closer to your goal… even if it doesn’t look perfect.

As the saying goes:  progress not perfection.


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Dr. Angela Tran