There is something that is more important than eating clean when it comes to weight loss, fat loss and total body transformation. Yes, cleaning up your diet is important. In fact, you won’t get too far without it. But what is more important is that you understand the motivation behind your unhealthy eating habits.
Here’s the thing, guys. Anyone can get on the clean eating band wagon and stick to veggies, fats and proteins for a few weeks and probably lose weight along the way. But unless you understand what was motivating your less than stellar food choices, you’ll inevitably find yourself falling right back into them. That happened to me for years. I’d focus on following a particular diet plan to the letter but after a few weeks I was right back to where I started – fast food, ice cream and continuous munching and snacking (while thinking about how badly I needed to lose weight & how I shouldn’t be eating the crap I was actively shoveling into my mouth).
If you don’t identify the feelings and factors that trigger you to make less than stellar choices, you’ll find yourself right back in that mode as soon as your motivation wanes and those feelings or factors arise. For me, loneliness and sadness trigger overeating and overindulging. If I feel rejected by something or someone, if I feel isolated (often because I’ve isolated myself) or if I feel a sense of loss, my go-to pattern is to numb those feelings with food. You see, when I’m fist deep in a pint of ice cream, I’m only thinking about the ice cream. I’m not thinking about rejection or loneliness or sadness. I’m just thinking “ice cream” and, for the moment, it feels good. But here’s what happens – as soon as it is gone I start to regret it. “Why did I do that?! Why am I so weak?” Now the problem is compounded. The loneliness isn’t gone. The sadness is still there but now it is compounded by the fact that I punished myself with food. Ugh, such a slippery slope and dangerous cycle!!
So, now that I know what triggers my bad habits, what do I do about it? How do I overcome it? How do you break the cycle? I literally worked on it step by step. I never imagined that I could overcome it in one fell swoop and I didn’t try.
Step 1: Be mindful
It sounds kinda lame, I’ll give you that. There wasn’t any pressure at this phase. In fact, I didn’t attempt to change my behavior at all. If I got overwhelmed or sad and started to have those thoughts of “Whatever. I don’t care. I suck at this. I’m gonna go to the grocery and buy ice cream….and chips. And hell, if I’m gonna blow it, I might as well get pizza on the way home” I would allow myself to do it but not without at least acknowledging the feelings behind it. I would quite literally write in my journal “I am feeling frustrated and like I want to cry because of xyz so I feel like eating crap”. That’s all. Then I’d proceed on to the grocery store. After I did this a couple of times I kind of evolved to the next step naturally. It didn’t feel good, it didn’t make me feel better to eat those feelings. It almost always made me feel worse so acknowledging the rationale allowed me to see that I wasn’t solving my problem at all and I wasn’t even making myself feel better.
Step 2: Consider what would help
Again, this wasn’t aimed at stopping the behavior of making bad food choices or bingeing but addressing the underlying issue. So in the case of feeling the desire to overeat because I’m feeling sad, I took it a step further. I’d sit at my desk with my journal and write out why I was feeling sad and what it might take to fix the problem. Maybe it was a conversation with someone. Maybe the solution was just to give myself a little more grace and not be so hard on myself. Maybe I realized in the moment that I was actually quite overtired and whatever I was feeling sad over was pretty silly and a nap would probably help. This step, in large part, removed the desire to eat. I was not only confronting my feelings but also actively considering solutions. I was aware that food wasn’t a solution but now I was starting to see alternatives.
Step 3: Delay desire
If I went through steps 1 and 2 and still had the desire to overindulge or binge, I began to practice putting it off for 24 hours. I wasn’t saying “no” to whatever I wanted, I was just saying “lets wait it out for 24 hours”. If I still wanted it 24 hours later, I’d go for it. Nine times out of 10 this eliminates the urge. The emotion passes, the craving passes, I come to my senses a little bit.
At the end of the day it comes down to three fundamental things: awareness, honesty and practice.
You need to become aware of the feelings behind your actions. What’s going on when you’re not making good choices. What is fueling those decisions? Are you happy with the decisions? Are there common threads that link the occasions on which you overdo it? Pay attention. Be mindful. Stop going through life in a fog without learning about yourself and the way you think. Be a student of your own behavior.
Sometimes it kinda sucks but you’ve got to get honest about your feelings. If you boil over because someone cuts you off in traffic and as soon as you get home, in your heightened state, you’re digging through the pantry for something with chocolate, you’ve got to ask what’s really going on there. Why are you upset? Why are you sad? Why are you overweight? Why do you continue to make bad choices when you genuinely want a better life? Stop saying its because its “hard”. Get honest. WHY is it hard? The actual act of buying healthy food and preparing it is not hard so where does this emotional part come from? Get real. Get honest. Do it now because you won’t be successful if you aren’t honest with yourself.
You aren’t going to get it right your first time out of the gate. The journey to your healthiest self is a long one and it won’t be perfect. You’re going to make mistakes. You’ll have bad days and bad weeks. That doesn’t mean you suck. It doesn’t mean you’re a failure or that you can’t do it. It just means that you need more practice. Living a healthy life is a DAILY practice. When we practice regularly, we improve. See challenging situations and circumstances as a great forum for practice. Don’t quit. Keep trying. Show up and practice every single day.
Sure – I want us all to make better food choices. But better food choices is more about YOU and the way you think and less about the food. I can’t emphasize enough just how important it is to become a student of yourself and your motivations. Spend the time. It’s worth it. It is the only way you can truly change.
Do you feel like you need help with this? It’s HARD stuff! Sometimes your head is in the game and you’re willing to do the work and other times its just annoying and you don’t feel like it. That’s why I find value in having a coach. I have had a coach in one form or another for most of my weight loss journey. When my motivation started to slip, they’d see it and help reel me back in. I really think that was a huge part of what made THIS journey successful when all my past attempts had not been. But here’s the thing – those coaches were only involved my story for an hour a week. Our time together was SUPER limited and when I was about to binge, of course they weren’t around. I have put together a totally different coaching program. One that is based on working one-on-one with a VERY small group of women. I won’t put them on a diet. I won’t write them meal plans. I will work incredibly closely with them for a full year to help them identify their own unique fat loss formula. I’ll help them find and practice strategies that work for THEM. We will talk every week. We will email or message as much as they need. They will have unlimited email access to me. I will coach them. I’ll help carry them through the tough times. We’ll troubleshoot together. We’ll celebrate together. I’ll share a TON of critical information related to mindset, motivation, nutrition, hormones, health and fitness. I want to create radical transformations both physically and mentally. And I want to be a huge part of the process. That’s why I won’t work with more than 15 people. In fact, I’m going to insist that folks who are interested complete a short application so I can assess their readiness to change and ensure that I’m working with people who are ready for this journey. I can’t even tell you how freaking excited I am!! If you are ready to make a transformation and create your own success story, I encourage you to read more about the program before you decide to apply. You can find all the info and the application by clicking here. I’m only accepting applications through December 10th and I’ll select up to 15 people and notify them by December 15th. If you’ve got questions, feel free to respond to this email!! I am SOOOO ready to help some of you guys take it to the next level and make 2015 the most amazing year of your life!!