I was talking to a client this week who was beating herself up after the cleanse we had created for her “fell apart.” As she described what had happened over the past couple of weeks since our last 1-1 call, she kept using words like “I cheated” and “I was bad.”

 As we dug deeper, she described a pattern in her behaviour. She would set unrealistically high expectations for herself, and then somehow find a way to #@!* it up, then beat herself up more, and as a punishment, set an even stricter program for herself, which she would inevitably F-up again.

Sound familiar?

I meet and work with a lot of women who are really hard on themselves. I myself have certainly gone to extremes of self-flagilation as well. It wasn’t until I got so tired of being hard on myself (and basically crashing and burning) and started filling my life with pleasure and positivity that I actually started seeing the results I wanted.

What’s even better is that this is one of the foundational approaches we learn at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, where I studied to become a coach. (If you’d like to know more about IIN, let me know!)

 Instead of focusing on everything she did “wrong,” I challenged my client to celebrate her successes. What were the elements of the cleanse that she had stuck to? What were the changes that she enjoyed?

Not surprisingly there were many: she loved her daily green smoothies, was adding more greens and salads to every meal, trying new recipes, getting great sleep and waking up earlier with more energy, and instead of drinking wine daily in the evenings, was limiting her intake to special evenings with friends. Oh and in 2 weeks had lost 5 pounds, despite a back injury that had kept her on the sofa for half the time. That’s a lot to celebrate!!

Next we talked about how to “flip the script” and reverse the cycle of restrictive diets and negative self talk. Instead of designing a program that revolves around “limiting, eliminating, and abstaining” what if we simply focused on “adding in” more good-for-us stuff? MORE green smoothies in the morning, more veggies, more yummy alternatives to red wine in the evenings, more self care, more baths in the evening, more enjoyable moderate exercise, more pleasure, and more sleep.

Sounds a lot better, doesn’t it?

The more good, pleasurable, positive, healthy, fun (insert your desired adjective here) we can ADD IN to our lives, the less we feel as though we are depriving or restricting ourselves, and the less likely we are to trigger those negative cycles.

So tell me, what are you going to add in this week? I would love to hear in the comments section.

And as always, if you know someone who would benefit from reading this, please share with them!