Why isolating yourself won’t help you reach your goals

Whenever we decide to start working towards specific goals, it can be really tempting to want change everything in our lives and isolate ourselves. Maybe you start limiting eating out or eliminate social gatherings that are food centric. You might say no to seeing certain friends or friend groups based on their choices, and you ignore your co-workers requests to go out.

And to be honest, there is validity to making radical changes in your life in pursuit of your health. Some of these specific changes, like saying no to certain friends and friend groups, might be the best thing you do for your physical and mental health, and overall wellbeing to get things started. But as a long-term strategy, isolating yourself forever won’t help you reach your goals successfully.

Why isn’t this a long-term strategy? Wouldn’t cutting out the excess and the distractions help you reach your goal faster?

Faster, maybe. Long term? No.

We need to think of how this is structuring your goal. Let’s take the goal of fat loss as an example. Being ultra-rigid might allow you to lose fat faster. I say might because oftentimes we see a paradoxical relationship between having a rigid mindset and over consuming calories. You may or may not have even experienced that yourself. But for arguments sake, let’s say it does allow you to hit your goal faster. What about after? And there will always be an after…

When you’ve structured your goals in absolute, black and white terms, you designate the deficit period as “on” and afterwards as “off.” This immediately designates the off as a free for all f**k off period. Not only does this psychologically create an unhealthy relationship with food, but it also puts your body in a physiological place to rapidly regain the fat you just lost.

Essentially, this is what yo-yo dieting is and why it always fails.

Diet aggressively.
Fall off the plan.
Gain fat back, and sometimes more than you started with.
Re-start another aggressive diet without addressing the behaviors first.
See less progress than before.
Fall off again.

And the cycle continues.

Without addressing the behaviors, it’s hard to see any sustainable progress. I understand why it’s tempting to isolate yourself in this context, but it really doesn’t improve the long-term outcome.

Let’s take another common example. You’re trying to find your groove with your nutrition and training goals but find yourself really struggling when eating out with colleagues or traveling for work. Wouldn’t it just be better to say no?

Somedays, yes! No is the right answer. If your co-workers eat out three to five times per week for lunch, there’s no reason you need to go every time. Instead, choose once or twice a week where you’d like to join them. And when you get to said lunch? Still make choices that fit your goals! Going out to eat does not mean you need to order the most calorie dense option on the menu. We have many clients who have to eat out and travel all the time because of work who continue to hit their physique, performance, and health goals because they display moderation with their choices.

This sounds wonderful and straight forward, but it can be really hard in practice, especially when you first get started! The only way you can get better at this is through practice, error, and reflection. Unfortunately, most clients have to make errors before they get it right, and that’s okay! That is why reflection is a huge part of the work we do with clients. Reflect on what you did, didn’t do, and adjust your plan from there. One of the largest components of our coaching practice is creating a program takes all of this into consideration. There is no perfect program, but there’s a way to take sound, evidence-based principles and apply them across a wide variety of strategies.

If you’ve struggled with this in the past, understand that this is incredibly common. We’ve all likely done it once, twice (or many times!) in our quest to better ourselves. We have coached hundreds of clients through these scenarios and have helped them develop the patterns and behaviors that allow them to be successful for life

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