There is not a week that goes by that I do not hear someone say, “I start a new diet every Monday and on the first of every month!”
It really gets me thinking: Why do we not stick to the plan we are on? And how can we stop mortgaging tomorrow’s happiness for today’s temporary enjoyment?
That’s a big question—and it’s one we are going to tackle RIGHT NOW!
To start, let us consider all the major ways we fall into “The Tomorrow Trap.”
The Tomorrow Trap
Trap #1: We take credit for tomorrow’s achievements today.
It’s easy to think about all the hard work we will put in tomorrow and take credit for it now. Here is what I mean: Have any of these thoughts ever crossed your mind?
- One cookie is OK—I will just wake up early and go do some cardio.
- Let’s order pizza; I will start my diet on Monday.
- I feel terrible, tired, and hungry, and do not feel like cooking anything… but that is fine. I will hit the gym harder next week.
If you have ever said anything like this? Because you are not alone. But the truth is, when we intend to make a healthy decision tomorrow, we are far more likely to overeat today.
Trap #2: We are overly confident.
Some of us are so confident that we will eat healthier tomorrow that we are perfectly OK indulging today. There are a ton of research studies where individuals are asked to rate themselves based on how much self-control they think they have.
The result? Those that rated themselves as having high self-control were those most likely to order unhealthy meals. Now, you may be thinking, “That rules me out! I would never say I have a lot of self-control. I clearly do not fall into the overconfident category.”
Not so fast—overconfidence is a very SNEAKY trap. Have you ever said you are going order a salad for dinner, but got the burger and fries instead? It is not just about thinking you are confident—it is about how you really behave.
Trap #3: We are too optimistic about what we will do tomorrow.
Today, life is difficult: we are overwhelmed, we have zero free time, we are tired, and we do not feel like eating healthy. But, tomorrow…well, tomorrow is always going to be different.
Tomorrow, we will find time to go to the gym, make that hard decision to eat a healthy lunch, and skip those drinks with friends. It is so easy to be convinced we will make great future choices—and excuse our present actions.
4 Ways to Escape “The Tomorrow Trap”
Now that we have the three most common traps covered, this is where our ‘CBT Skills’ will come in: Let’s talk about how to avoid the traps so we can finally stop saying, “I will start my diet tomorrow.”
Solution #1: Catch yourself before you fall.
Once we are aware of what we are thinking, we can catch ourselves in those thoughts. I had a CBT client sum this up perfectly in our 1-to-1 coaching call last week : “I know what works, but I routinely make choices that do not take me closer to my goal. While I am making those choices, there is a piece of me that is not committed to reaching the goal, and it reminds me that I know what to do, and I can do that later or tomorrow.”
So often, we realize that we are falling into “The Tomorrow Trap,” but what can we really do about it? Listen to my client, who explained how to make that change perfectly:
“I can intercept those thoughts and make better choices moment by moment.” Yes! That is exactly what we are talking about! When we find ourselves rationalizing all the reasons to indulge now, we can recognize that behavior, stop, catch ourselves, and avoid those pitfalls.
Solution #2: Give yourself a reality check.
When we make promises to work out tomorrow or order healthier at our next meal, stop and ask, “Do I actually do those things I am promising? Or am I falling back into the ‘indulge today, change tomorrow cycle?”
When you are completely honest with yourself, you can spot rationalizations and stop them in their tracks. Here is what that looks like:
“I do not feel like cooking; today was hectic. I will order a pizza tonight. But I will be back at it tomorrow.” Here is where the reality check comes in. You have to question yourself. If you catch yourself having one of these thoughts, you can counter it: “That is what I said last week too. But when I promised myself to get back on track, did I stick to it?”
We ask ourselves this kind of question not to make ourselves feel guilty—feeling guilty does not help. The point is to call out our excuses for what they are: rationalizations to make easy, self-sabotaging decisions.
Solution #3: Realize that tomorrow is not easy.
When we think about tomorrow, we imagine ourselves with more time, more willpower, and the ability to make better choices.
What we are doing is creating this “ideal image” of what tomorrow will look like, but here is the flaw: “Tomorrow will present the same challenges we have today.“
We will still have friends that want us to have a drink with them, be busy at work, feel anxious, and crave the comfort of food when we feel bored. The time to change is not tomorrow; it is now! We can only avoid the discomfort for so long—we might as well make the change today.
Are you struggling with “The Tomorrow Trap”?
I want you to think about what actions you feel like you can take to break the indulge today/change tomorrow cycle. Take sometime to jot your answers down, and pick ONE action step you will take…TODAY!
And if you need help, this is what CBT Meets Fitness specializes in. Through our thought provoking courses, we are changing the way people think about health, fitness and weight loss. I am certain that you can make this diet the last diet you are ever on!
Check out the 4-Week Course on: Mastering the Skills to Stop Food Sabotage! Limited time $100 OFF; grab today and no longer fall into “The Tomorrow Trap.”