The Snowball Effect: Don't Let One Mistake Go Too Far
Progress does not require perfection. One bad day of eating doesn’t ruin all of your progress. The real issue arises when we turn one instance into a ‘snowball’ of negative choices that eventually derails progress, or worse, forms a bad habit.
Decrease your chances of snowballing with these tips to help you identify when you start creating negative habits.
You might be snowballing if:
- You are using one choice to validate another choice
- Your habit changes are defined by a timeline (I’ll start tomorrow, Monday…)
- You tell yourself “If I’m having one I may as well have another, and another, and another”
- You view your diet as an all or a nothing operation
This all probably sounds pretty familiar, huh? That’s okay, these are all incredibly common thoughts that at some point can sabotage most people’s diet and mindset. So what can you do about it?
Look at an Event in Context
On paper, a few colds beers on a Friday night doesn’t hurt anyone, but what happens from there? If you know that after you get a little buzz, you’re prone to tossing back a few more than you planned for, which then might turn into a quick slice of pizza, followed by hangover brunch, then it might be important to keep on the safe side of sober. By taking a step back and seeing if there is a distinct ‘ripple behavior’ after you make one choice, you can prevent things from getting blown out of proportion.
One and Done
Dieting, especially if your goals are achieved over a longer timeline, can feel endless. It can be easy to get caught up with the idea that since we have so far to go, delaying progress a little bit isn’t the end of the world. We’ve all had those days we feel we need a break and end up eating something that might not be in line with our goals. Cue the thought process of the snowball effect: since we’ve already messed up, we can just start fresh tomorrow, on Monday, or maybe after we get back from vacation. While we don’t need to dwell on one slip up, every choice we make is an opportunity to get closer or further from our goals.
If this mentality is something you often find yourself battling with, you should read our article about why going over your macros doesn’t mean having to go wild. Aiming to stay present with each choice will prove to you have more power than you think!
Focus on the Now
If you have an off day, beating yourself up won’t solve the problem. This isn’t a pass/fail test. Dieters who measure their success by perfection are more likely to feel increased stress about their food choices and experience more burn out. If we have an off day or meal, treat it as such. The easier we can move on from choices that don’t support us and learn from them, the better off we’ll be. Don’t let a negative mental aftershock keep you from getting back on track because you feel you're never going to be able to do this or lack self-discipline. Focus on what you have in your control (pssst, it’s the present), and use that to your advantage!
With the holidays coming up there are tons of opportunities to get sucked into the snowball effect, if you’re interested in more tips on how to stay mindful with your choices, check out our Holiday Survival Guide or outsource an accountability coach with our one-on-one nutrition coaching.
Join Team WAG
Love what you learned but still want more guidance and support? Hire a 1:1 coach who will get to know you, your lifestyle and your unique needs and create results that you can sustain long-term. If you're not quite ready to go all-in on hiring a coach, check out our Macro Calculation Cheat Sheet & 18 Tracking Tips and Tricks for macro counting!