Are You In The Trap of “Better”?

by | Jun 18, 2016 | Blog

When I was nearly 350 lbs, I’d stop at Chick-fil-A every morning on the way to work. For breakfast, I’d order a 4 count of chicken minis (probably would have ordered a 12 count if it was possible), hashbrowns, a chicken biscuit and a large Diet Coke, no ice. (Sidebar: despite the fact that that’s A LOT of food, I’d be hungry 90 minutes later because of the blood sugar bombshell it represented.)

the trap of better

When I decided to stop yo-yo dieting and take a sustainable approach to fat loss, I made one change to that breakfast order: I skipped the chicken biscuit.

I was still having chicken minis, hashbrowns and a vat of diet soda, but the change represented an improvement to me & I saw progress.

It was a better choice. At the time, better was good enough for progress.

But here’s the thing about “better” – it is relative. Better doesn’t guarantee progress.

Better doesn’t entitle you to anything. 

Relative improvements evolve. Your choices must continue to evolve or will find yourself stuck in the trap of better.

We have a tendency to let ourselves off the hook or talk ourselves into indulgences with the rationale that one choice is better than another. While sometimes this is an indication of progress, at other times it’s just a more intelligent form of excuse making

For example, if you know that eating ice cream isn’t going to help you reach your goals, you might be sabotaging yourself with the routine argument that having a bowl of ice cream is better than your past behavior of having a pint. 

Better, yes. Deserving of results? Maybe, maybe not.

You might talk yourself into one glass of wine because it’s a better choice than drinking 3 glasses.

The obvious question is, “When do I shoot for improvement and when is focusing on improvement keeping me doing my best and pushing myself to reach my goals?”

The simple answer is: do what works, not what you think should work. Not what you think ought to work. 

I see this all the time with my clients. They’re lost in the trap of better and they don’t even know it.

They used to over-indulge all weekend and now they eat a fat loss friendly breakfast consistently but they aren’t seeing the 2 lb per week weight loss they want.

Well, better might not be good enough for the results you want.

They used to drink a bottle of wine and now they stop after a couple glasses but the weight isn’t falling off.

They used to be totally inactive and now they’re hitting the gym a few times per week.

Who said your expectations were based in reality?

Does your body agree with the degree of change you think is required for progress?

Maaaaaybe not.

Yes, your choices might be better. It doesn’t mean they are good enough for the results you want to see.

Your ego & stubbornness might be a real liability here.

I get it, you’ve improved. Congratulations, that’s awesome. I mean it! But it doesn’t mean you “deserve” to burn fat.

Your indignation is not a good use of your energy and your “but it’s not fair” attitude does nothing to encourage your body to burn fat.

Take it to the next level.

And that right there is the other major issue with the trap of better.

It can keep you locked in your comfort zone and hold you back from the progress you desire and are fully capable of.

If you base your decision on what is “better” for you, you might not ever reach your full potential.

You’re so busy looking backwards that you aren’t answering the question, “What am I capable of? What would be the best choice for me? What level of effort do I want to apply to the achievement of my goals?”

Within my Fat Loss Fast Track groups, we work on objectively identifying good, better and best options, independent of the choice made.

For example, maybe you’re debating some chocolate and almond butter after dinner. You might define a good choice as a square of dark chocolate and a tablespoon of almond butter because that trumps the cookies you’re craving. A better choice would be dark chocolate or almond butter but not both. The best choice would be to have a cup of tea and skip the after-dinner snack all together.

I challenge you to work on thinking about the degrees of improvement and making an informed choice based on all the options. 

I encourage my clients to share their evaluations of what represents good, better and best with the group so we can all learn and become more aware of our choices. This is what one of my clients beautifully shared:

Good/Better/Best. My husband purchased an apple crumble pie on Sunday night. I have been serving it to my kids the last 3 nights. Last night I am serving up the final pieces. It is warm and smells really good. I am so happy this will soon be out of my house. I love apple pie. Ironically, there is one piece left. After serving my daughters I pause in the kitchen. I am seeking. I am seeking something. Oh, do I see this coming. That’s new. I see it coming. The craving. That alone is a victory. I see it. I recognize it and now I have a choice. I have a choice! My god I have a choice.

I stand in front of the refrigerator. I just stand there. My mind is spinning. What if I just have a small sliver? What if I have a skinny cow ice cream sandwich instead? But I think Blah? I’ve had that skinny cow ice cream sandwich a 1,000 times. It’s nothing special. And this apple pie is 3 days old. It’s from publix. It’s good. But it’s not my apple pie! It’s not my Mom’s apple pie! It’s not my homemade crust. I think, this isn’t Thanksgiving! This is a random Wednesday. Why am I feeling hungry? Am I feeling hungry? Minutes pass.

I pull out the fanciest cup I have in the house. I take out the special ice cube thingie that makes the one big round ice cube – that my husband uses for scotch. I put that in the glass. I pour my La Croix on top. I add two limes and a splash of pomegranate juice. Damn, it looks so good. This is a treat. This is the Best option. I don’t need that apple pie. That apple pie is not standing between me and my goals. I mentally say, The next time I make an apple pie I am going to have slice and enjoy it 1,000 times more than I ever have before.

I join my daughters in the family room with my fancy mocktail. One daughter is literally licking the ice cream off her plate a few moments later. She looks so happy. I am so happy for her. I am so happy for myself. She is 13. It is summer break. What a wonderful moment. Now that is the best choice I made all day.

Powerful, right? You are capable of that. It’s something you can practice.

I encourage you to not settle for just what represents an improvement for you unless that is yielding results. Please know that improvements are often enough for progress but when they’re not, they’re not. Don’t let your ego and expectations hold you back.

Practice identifying your good, better and best options independent of the choice you make.

If you want to learn more about the Fat Loss Fast Track & the types of weekly challenges & support within it, make sure to register for one of this week’s free webinars to get all the details! I’ll be hanging out with you live and I hope to see you there!

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