Building a healthy community is a collaborative effort, as such, every so often we invite people who have a unique perspective or experience to write a post for us. This week’s guest contributor is Tara Fitness (yes, her real name!) and she hails from the United Kingdom. After all, we all have hearts that we need to protect, no matter where we live. Enjoy!

Paul has been excited since his feet hit the floor. It’s game day, his favorite day of the week. But today isn’t any old game day. Sam, Paul’s best friend from college, is coming by to watch the game. They haven’t seen each other in twenty years.

Paul’s wife Liz is off to visit the grandkids. She hates football. She gives him a quick kiss goodbye and reaches for the door. As she steps out, she looks back over her shoulder and says:

“Be good”.

Paul knows what she means… don’t eat or drink too much.

Three months ago, he suffered a heart attack. Since then he’s been on a whole new regime; healthy diet, daily exercise and a lot less alcohol – doctor’s orders!

There’s a loud knock at the door. Paul rushes to open it and finds Sam grinning from ear to ear. Perched on his outstretched arm is a family sized pizza box topped with a bucket of chicken wings. Under the other arm sits a carton of beer.

Paul is thrilled to be catching up with his old mate. Neither can believe it’s been so long. They spend the afternoon reminiscing and cheering for their team. By the end of the game, they’ve polished off all Sam’s bounty plus a bag of chips and a large bottle of soda they found stashed in the cupboard.

Suddenly, Paul hears a key in the lock and a wave of guilt washes over him. He knows the first thing his wife will ask is:

“What did you have for lunch?”

He also knows she’s going to be very disappointed in him.

Health is a lifestyle, not a prison sentence.

Maintaining a new nutrition and fitness regime is hard. It’s even harder when the new regime has been thrust upon you. You are going to make mistakes because it’s almost impossible to circle a date on the calendar and simply stop consuming ‘unhealthy’ foods.

If like Paul, you’ve eaten a pizza every game day for 30 years, that’s a rock solid habit that could take plenty of effort to shift!

Here are 5 tips to help you overcome a game-day blowout, and help you make better choices in the future:

Be kind to yourself

After consuming an unhealthy meal, the worst thing you can do is walk the downward spiral of negative self-talk. Instead, give yourself a break. Just like eating a salad doesn’t make you healthy, one blowout meal doesn’t make you unhealthy.  You haven’t ruined everything, even if you’re telling yourself you have. After an unhealthy meal, let it go, and commit to making a better choice next meal.

Recognise every meal is a choice

So you had one bad meal. But choosing to eat a pizza doesn’t then mean you’ve chosen to eat pizza for every meal for the rest of your life. Every single time you eat, you have an opportunity to make a healthier choice. So every time you eat, do your best to make a healthier choice.

Make good choices when you’re strong, so you don’t have to when you’re not

Once per week, write a meal plan packed with healthy, nutritious food. Prepare a grocery list of all the food you’ll need to follow your meal plan. Go shopping and buy the food. Then, follow the dinner menu. You don’t have to follow it perfectly; if you want to switch meals around, by all means, do so. But do your best to follow your menu to create a habit of eating healthier meals.

Plan to go off plan

When you’re writing your menu, plan to get takeaway or go to a restaurant for one of those meals. Write it on the menu and permit yourself to step off plan for a meal. When you know you’ve planned a takeaway on Friday night, it’s easier to resist a cheeky dash through the drive-through on your way home from work.

Take a step off plan; not a leap

When you permit yourself to have an off-plan meal every few weeks, you don’t have to eat everything in sight like it’s your last cheat meal ever. Perhaps you’ve always ordered the large meal. When ordering, ask yourself if you need the large or would a medium meal be enough to satisfy you?

Remember

It’s not the end of the world if you go off-plan for a meal. Consistency is the key, and providing you’re mostly consistent with regular exercise and healthy nutrition, you’ll find yourself feeling both physically and emotionally healthier in the long run. If you have an unhealthy arch nemesis – like Paul’s pizza – tell us what it is and what you did to overcome it in the comments below.

Contributed by Tara Fitness

Related: Peter’s Story, McKenzie’s Story, Kelly’s Story