It isn't easy being perfect. In fact, it's impossible. But when it comes to eating healthfully or losing weight, many people set unrealistic goals.
Here are some of their doomed-to-fail goals, according to Linda Crawford, eating-behavior specialist at Green Mountain at Fox Run, a Ludlow, Vt., weight and health center:
* Eat only "diet," low-calorie, no-fat foods.
* Never again eat favorite foods.
* Always do exactly the number of miles or minutes of exercise planned, and never miss a session.
* Lose weight quickly.
* Always be rewarded for hard work with a drop on the scale.
* Never be threatened by food or eating situations.
In fact, Crawford has found that unrealistic expectations such as these are the biggest obstacle to successful weight management, more so than hectic schedules, stress, life crises, cravings or social situations. Simply put, goals that cannot be achieved inevitably lead to failure.
So what's the cure?
Crawford, in Green Mountain's latest newsletter, came up with these tips to help people develop more realistic expectations:
* Change your focus to who you are and how you feel rather than how you look and what you weigh.
* Determine a healthy (not necessarily thin) weight for yourself, depending on your age, height, build and weight history.
* Set a goal of practicing positive behaviors most of the time (say, eight out of 10), striving for improvement, not perfection.
* Expect mistakes, and learn from them.
* Don't set deadlines for reaching a certain dress size, weight or measurement.
* Eat reasonable portions of your favorite foods instead of aiming for all "diet" foods.
* Forget about illegal, bad or forbidden foods. They don't exist. You can eat anything in moderation and still reach your weight and health goals.
* Gear your exercise plans to what reasonably fits into your schedule.
* Recognize that some exercise is better than none. Modify the type, intensity and duration to your current mood if necessary, but do something.