Have you ever started a weight loss or exercise plan, veered off course, and then decided you’ve already “blown it”, so might as well continue being “bad” and start over on Monday?

If so, you’re not alone. It’s very common.

Instead of straying from the plan on Friday night and then getting right back on track the next morning, you totally derail and eat everything in sight ­— knowing that you’re going to have to be “good” on Monday.

A safe, effective fat loss program is not one that you go on and then start over once you’ve been “bad.” That’s not the right approach ­ and unfortunately, all too common amongst dieters.

“Diets” teach us that changing our exercise and eating habits are short-term projects rather than an improved lifestyle.

Headlines everywhere read “Lose 12kgs in 30 days” ­ and most people believe them.

They go on and off diets, start and stop exercise programs, and their weight–and self-esteem–go up and down.

Unfortunately, most people don’t realise that there is a real alternative to diets, so they jump back on the diet roller coaster when their weight goes back up or a new miracle diet comes on the market.

In order to break free from the diet mentality, you need to view these healthier changes you’re making as part of a permanent lifestyle change.

To gain the lasting benefits, it is important to re-orient short-term thinking towards realistic goals.

Goal-setting is a great way to stay motivated and achieve the results you deserve.Unfortunately, many people set goals simply to look better in the short-run and not for the other many benefits a healthy lifestyle offers in the long-run.

For example, setting a short-term goal of losing 3kg’s  for a class reunion isn’t always that helpful.

Once the reunion is over, most people either revert to their previous habits or simply quit all together because the goal they set was unrealistic.

Losing fat and living a healthy lifestyle takes a long-term commitment. Trying to do it all at once will only make you frustrated and discouraged.

Instead, set a realistic long-term goal; then achieve it by reaching smaller, short-term goals.

For example, if your goal is to decrease your body fat by 10 percent, shoot for modest goals, such as decreasing your body fat by 1 or 1.5% each month.

By taking it one day at a time, you can do a better job of concentrating on what’s working for you and what’s not, how you’re feeling and what you are thinking.

Focusing on this present moment, when you’re feeling satisfied, energised, and confident, helps you stay more balanced in your decision-making about food and exercise.

Setting small goals, completing daily tasks, and acknowledging all the small achievements on your path are essential to successful change.

Remember, I tell my clients that a successful programs are for life — take it one day at a time and continue down the path even with you stray from the plan.

This is far better than continually starting over each time you “blow” your diet.

Next, set daily tasks to meet your short-term goals, such as “choose natural over processed carbs”, “include a protein source at each meal”, “drink 10 glasses of water a day”, etc.

Remember — and remind yourself: each time you accomplish a daily task and then reach a short-term goal, you are one step closer to achieving what you really want: a healthier, more fit body.

Focus on the NOW. Thinking only about the future reminds you of how far you still have to go rather than focusing on what you should do today.

If you happen to indulge on a high-calorie food, enjoy it; don’t worry about it ruining your program or your future.

Shift instead to living healthy the rest of the day ­ get right back on track