As you guys know, I’m currently writing my first book. In that process, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to the most effective, efficient & permanent ways to create change.
If you’d rather listen to this blog than read it, please click play. Otherwise, just keep reading below.
My issues with food started when I was really young. My mom severely limited what I ate, when I ate and how much I ate. As as result, I started sneaking food and overeating when the opportunity presented itself at a very, very young age. The intensity of my food seeking & sneaking only increased as I got older.
Side note: Have you listened to the podcast episode I recorded with my mom? It is INTENSE. Super real.
There were two major problems created by my pattern of sneaking food & using food as a means to feel pleasure or relief:
- Repetition changed my brain
- Food became my primary (only?) pathway to pleasure
You read that first one right. Repetition changed my brain. Literally.
Our brains are very impressive machines. For anything to happen – a choice, behavior, any action and reaction – there’s an intricate network of communication that has to occur in the brain.
That network of communication happens between neurons that fire electrical signals to each other. The messages get passed from one neuron to another as it transforms from a thought to an action.
With repetition, these neurons increase the strength of their connection. With enough repetition, it becomes a deep channel, increasingly efficient and effortless over time.
That’s where we get the phrase “neurons that fire together wire together”.
Through years of repetition, I created a communication channel in my brain so strong that it fired effortlessly and automatically.
That’s one of the primary reasons it can feel like change is so hard. This is one of the mechanisms behind the sense that we made a choice or acted on an impulse without thinking.
We’ve made that neural pathway a deep groove. A hard wired connection.
Here’s the good news: we can change that and we have 2 primary ways to do so:
- Create a new neural pathway
- Stop firing the existing one
In my example, I could create a new, stronger pathway in my brain through repetition. That would certainly take some time. Afterall, this strong pathway of turning to food in response to emotion and seeking pleasure and relief from food is one that has been building and gaining strength since I was 4 or 5 years old.
I make change significantly easier when I simultaneously practice abandoning that strong, original connection. If I can do this in tandem with creating a new pathway, my progress will be exponentially faster and easier.
That’s where I came up with the idea of 100 denials. One hundred is an entirely arbitary number, but I set a goal for myself to not act on the urge to seek pleasure from food purely for the sake of pleasure 100 times.
Don’t get me wrong – I want to love the foods I eat. I’m not talking about not enjoying what I eat at mealtime. One of my #1 food rules is to eat foods I love that love me back.
My 100 denials is about denying the impulse to choose food as a solution in times when hunger is NOT the problem.
One hundred denials is about 100 times saying “no” to that urge to grab a piece of chocolate, eat when I’m not hungry, eat in response to emotion or sneak something when someone isn’t looking.
This might not be an appropriate challenge for you.
Maybe the pathway you need to change is about complaining. Maybe it’s about not hitting the snooze button. Maybe it’s about snacking.
The point is this: yes, change feels hard. There is a physiological reason for that. There’s also a physiological solution.
Don’t continue to strengthen that neural pathway through repetition.
Challenge yourself to be the change. Challenge yourself to starve that pathway of energy and not give it any more strength or authority.
I’ll be sharing my 100 denials, most often on my Anchor channel, so be sure to check that out!
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