I started my 90 Day Practice Project on my birthday last Tuesday (click here for the original post). It was a low-key birthday being a workday, so after my last coaching session ended, I headed to Trader Joe’s to pick up some dinner.

Now remember, in last week’s blog I mentioned that the mind-chatter began the day before. Well, it was still there in high gear on Day 1.

Here’s a sample of my mind-chatter as I went up and down the aisles in Trader Joe’s:

This is too hard. There’s wheat and cheese in everything here!

 If I cut out wheat too, there will be nothing left for me to eat! (Scarcity thinking)

Dairy is probably the real culprit in my skin breakouts. Maybe I’ll just commit to no dairy and still eat wheat.

I was surprised to hear how much I was bargaining with myself. The thoughts came in rapid succession, one right after the other (there were more, but these were the stand-outs). No wonder my clients feel so overwhelmed when their brain does the same thing.

As I tell my clients: Thoughts are just sentences in your mind and they can be changed.

I stopped, took a breath, and reminded myself of my commitment (“For 90 days, I choose foods free of sugar, dairy, and wheat”). I then backed it up with reminding myself of my WHY (“I want healthy, radiant skin, and I want to be free of relying on makeup to cover my breakouts”).

Since this is The Practice Project, I consciously chose to practice replacing the bargaining mind-chatter with these more encouraging thoughts:

I can do this. 

One day at a time. I only need to succeed today.

I only need to focus on this one meal.

I left Trader Joe’s empty-handed and went a few blocks down to another market where I bought some sushi for dinner. No wheat, no dairy! I did not feel deprived, and I felt proud of myself for following through with my practice.

Other grocery store thoughts and actions during the week:

Wow! This actually simplifies things. Since there are fewer choices to think about, it actually makes decision-making so much easier. My brain is less taxed when I go straight to the choices I say I want, and I don’t have to wrestle with the other foods I’m choosing not to eat right now. Notice I didn’t say, “Foods I can’t have.” No one is forcing this on me. It’s my choice and I am in control of what I eat.

Practicing passing the cheese & yogurt aisle: This is easy; I don’t eat that.

Practicing walking by the bakery department: It smells good in here, but I’m more interested in having good skin.

Practicing stepping outside of the box and trying new wheat-free items:  These rice tortillas look good.

Ummmm, no. Oddly chewy. Eating the rice tortillas made me feel a little bit sad.

I won’t be buying those again.

I still stand by my belief that you should enjoy the food you eat.

Which leads me to my birthday dinner with one of my girlfriends on Thursday night.

Earlier in the day, I rehearsed in my mind how I was going to follow through with my plan. I even looked at the menu online and scoped out some wheat and dairy-free options. To be honest, what I was looking forward to ordering before I decided to start this journey still sounded good to me, even though it contained some wheat and cheese.

Once at the restaurant, I ultimately chose to order the meal I was looking forward to. I also chose not to beat myself up over it. Since I no longer entertain thoughts like, “I’ve blown it; I may as well go to town,” I did not join my friend in ordering drinks, and I had absolutely no interest in dessert even though the “It’s my birthday” card could have easily been played here. I left the restaurant feeling happy and satisfied, and went right back to my wheat & dairy-free plan the next day.

I share this to show you that you do not have to be perfect to make progress. You also don’t have to fully abandon your self-care in response to one off-plan moment.

It’s like that analogy I love so much: You wouldn’t slash your other three tires if one went flat. You’d fix the flat and keep on driving.

Don’t slash your tires!

If you make an off-plan choice, be kind to yourself about it and resume your self-care with the very next choice you make (no need to “start over” tomorrow or Monday).

How did YOU do this week?

Did you declare your goal?

Did you make it specific enough? Your brain likes specifics. The more detailed you are in your goal, the more your brain will work to create it for you.

Saying, “For the next 90 days, I will eat better” is too vague.

Saying, “For the next 90 days, I commit to bringing my lunch to work four times a week” or “For the next 90 days, I commit to eating a serving of vegetables at every meal” gives your brain a solid task to execute.

Did you also declare your “Why?” Having a powerful driver behind your actions makes all the difference.

If you haven’t already, you’re welcome to join us by posting your goal and your why over on my Love Yourself Lighter Facebook page (here). I’ll be sharing this blog post on there too, which is where you can post your update in the comments. Don’t worry if your timeline doesn’t match mine or anyone else’s; simply state whatever week you’re on (Week 1, Week 2, etc.) when you post your update. I would love to hear how your week went!

Though this group is totally informal, there is something to be said about being in a group of like-minded people supporting each other towards their goals. It reminds me of those pods of dolphins who surf and frolic in the ocean waves. Fun, right? Come be a part of my pod!