Instant gratification – when you want what you want and you want it now. This comes up for me just about every day. When I desire to eat something that is not on my 24 hour plan I frequently struggle to say why I want it. My brain says, “I just want it.” And for too long I have given in to that desire. What I forget in the moment is that I’m giving up long-term satisfaction. I’m giving up the joy of reaching my weight loss goal. It just doesn’t feel as important in the moment when faced with the brownie, or the french fries, or whatever else I’m desiring.
Learning this skill means that I learn to be uncomfortable in the moment. I learn to say no to the desire and just feel it without acting on it. The result is that I can satisfy a true desire down the road. I gain the satisfaction of numbers moving the right direction on the scale. I gain the result of improved health. I gain a sense of pride in sticking to my goals and making progress. I gain the benefit of being an example to others. This satisfaction is truly fulfilling and is a sign of my inward growth.
I feel like I’ve been heavy all my life. But I was a normal weight in my childhood. Once I hit puberty I started to get what my family called the Baker Butt. I was developing into more of a pear shape. Once, when visiting my Grandpa, he joked, “Wide load!” while making the noise of a truck beeping as it backs up. It has stuck with me all these years. I loved my Grandpa dearly so that probably made it even more painful. I know he didn’t mean to hurt my feelings.
I began to feel like I was a lesser person. It amazes me now that I could let moments like that define my self-worth. I want to go back and tell that young girl to shake it off. I want to tell her that she was perfect just the way she was. I still struggle to tell myself that now.
The truth is I was a healthy weight at that time. I joined the Marine Corps at 20 and maintained a healthy weight throughout all those years. Towards the end of my military tour I had my first baby and I struggled to lose the baby weight but I was still within the guidelines.
And yet my brain tells me that I was always overweight. It’s so interesting to look back at pictures and realize that I have been telling myself stories all along. Over time my thinking drove my feelings which drove my behavior and made my view of myself reality.
Over time I gained weight until, in 2017, I was 100 pounds overweight. I have some medical challenges like hypothyroid, a medication that can cause weight gain, and a sensitivity to carbohydrates. I realized I can't continue to use those things as excuses. I'm learning that my thinking plays an even bigger role in my own story.
I started learning about how powerful my thoughts were and how they created the results in my life. Here's an example of a thought model illustrating what I mean. The first model is how I was thinking. The second model is how I'm learning to think. (To learn more about how thought models work check out this post on Brooke Castillo's Self-Coaching Model)
Circumstance – my Grandpa’s statement
Thought – I’m fat
Feeling – "less than"
Action – eat my feelings
Result – gain weight
Circumstance – my Grandpa’s statement
Thought – I am worthy
Feeling – confident
Action – feel my feelings, even the negative ones
Result – stop overeating, lose weight
Be careful what you tell yourself. The mind is a powerful thing. It likes to believe all your negative thinking and then it sets to work to make it come true. What if you thought better thoughts?
I used to think about failure as…well, failure. As a bad thing. But as I’ve worked on how I think about things this last year I realized that I’ve missed out on some really important lessons. I’ve learned that evaluating each failure brings with it important steps to getting better and getting it right the next time. Or the next.
One of my favorite lessons from my mentor, Brooke Castillo, is the reminder of how babies learn to walk. They are the masters of failing right. They don’t let falling down keep them from trying again. They fall over and over again while learning. Each time they hit the ground and get up again they make their muscles stronger. They develop the strength and the balance to succeed because they fall. Not in spite of it. The failing is what builds their skill. It is the key!
Now I’m learning to take a closer look each time I fail. My latest example has to do with a tech challenge I was having with my blog. I didn’t get all the tasks done that I had committed to a couple of weeks ago because I was stuck on a certain task. I tried multiple different ways. I tried watching YouTube videos to figure it out. I watched tutorials. I was frustrated. The old me would have given up. The old me would have stayed stuck.
Instead I took a look at the failure. I listed all the things that went right.
– I figured out other parts of the program
– I learned to take breaks when I was frustrated
– I acknowledged my feelings
– I figured out other tasks I could do when I was frustrated that kept me moving in the right direction
– I kept my mind open for other options that might work
– I showed up and didn’t quit
– I worked on it after work, even when I was tired
– I caught myself saying “there’s not enough” time and re-framed my thinking to “there’s plenty of time” (this is a lesson for another day – powerful stuff)
Only after I filled my brain with the good stuff, I listed what didn’t go right:
– Didn’t figure out the original program I wanted to use
– Didn’t figure out how to link the program I was trying as a second option
– Found more tweaks I needed to make on my website (this alone would have derailed me in the past)
– Underestimated how long this task would take
Then I listed what I would do differently next time:
– I would have figured out the tech before planning a launch
– I would hire someone who is good at this tech stuff
– I will build a road map of stuff that needs to be figured out before a launch so I would be more prepared next time
Doing this process created an amazing brain shift for me. The next day, instead of feeling discouraged, I was empowered to push through the negative feelings. I ended up figuring it out. And it felt so good to have figured it out myself. I learned that I can do hard things outside my comfort zone. I realized that if I do this with every fail of 2019 I will have a treasure trove of valuable lessons to build on.
For 2019 I’m planning a goal that is way bigger than what I think I can actually accomplish. I’m excited for the person I will become in the attempt. I have a list of planned fails for the 1st quarter of the year. These are things that will stretch me and if I learn from each of them I can’t help but grow. When the quarter is over I will evaluate each win and each fail and then plan more fails for the next quarter. And so on. I’m looking forward to sharing what I learn with you. It’s a fresh way to look at New Year goals.
What will you create in 2019 for yourself?
One of the keys to sticking to your nutrition plan is food prep. It can sometimes feel that you just don’t have time to do food prep. However, once you get the process down it can save you even more time during the week.
In an article on the website The Lean Green Bean, author Lindsay Livingston gives 5 steps to making it easier. Check out the full article to learn more. The first step lays the foundation to a successful food prep: Make a Plan!
This can be full recipes or simply a list of food components. It does not have to be every single thing you’re going to eat next week or even full meals. The goal is to just make a list of food items you could prep that will make your life easier.
I usually keep my food prep really simple:
Do you food prep? Share your ideas in the comments.
Using a hunger scale is one of the basic habits that has helped me lose 49 pounds and keep it off. When I first started using it I had many “light bulb” moments that highlighted how often I was eating for reasons other than physical hunger. Using a hunger scale is an important component to shift from mindless eating to more mindful eating. There are many versions of the scale and you can customize one that works for you. I wrote previously about how to use a hunger scale for weight loss here.
In the post Mindful Eating: What It Is & Why You Should Try It by Alissa Rumsey, the author describes mindful eating this way:
Mindful eating is being conscious about what we are eating and why. It is about getting back in touch with the experience of eating and enjoying our food. What it is not: a diet. Eating mindfully does not place “good” or “bad” labels on foods. Instead, the goal is to base our meals and food choices on physical cues like hunger, rather than emotional triggers like stress or unhappiness.
The article gives tips for how using a hunger scale can help you practice mindful eating.
Get the full article for more detail on how to implement the practice and gain the benefits. If you want more information on the basic habits needed for successful weight loss you can get my free 7-day email course.
In the U.S. it’s estimated that we eat more than 60% processed foods. In the Medium article The United States Has an Epidemic of Processed Foods – And it’s Killing Us, author Manya Goldstein tells the story of how she was diagnosed with a chronic illness and how it led to her search for answers. Traditional medical care only provided partial answers and prescriptions to control symptoms. Until she sought a holistic practitioner she never considered that her food could be part of the problem.
Wait, what? Back up a second. Our food choices can’t really matter that much, I thought.
I mean, c’mon, it’s just food. And besides, I have a nervous system problem. The doctors gave me a diagnosis; they say its chronic. I’m just trying to control my symptoms a little better.
The article summarizes the problems associated with processed food and also tackles many of the issues with our current recommended nutritional guidelines. It’s a meaty article but I recommend you read her whole post. It’s chock full of great information.
Making better lifestyle choices can help prevent many chronic diseases. And those with chronic disease can improve and sometimes reverse their disease with lifestyle improvements such as avoiding processed foods. If you need help with making better choices with your food, get on the list to be notified when sign ups happen for our Upgrade Your Diet course.
One of the basic habits for successful, long term weight loss is getting enough sleep. I wrote about this previously. A new post on WebMD tells us that Sleepless Nights Could Make Pastries Hard to Resist.
After a night of lost sleep, the participants’ brain images showed increased activity in a circuit between the amygdala and hypothalamus, which is involved in food intake. This suggests sleep loss increased the desirability of food compared to non-food rewards, Peters said.
Previous findings have shown that hormonal changes after a sleepless night can affect appetite, but this study shows that changes occur in the brain as well. The good news is that paying attention to getting enough sleep can help us to achieve our weight loss goals. One of the best ways to improve your sleep is to have a nighttime routine for winding down and getting to bed on time.
What is your nighttime routine?
As we close out 2018 and look towards the new year you may be looking to write your 2019 goals. As you plan, look to these four areas of your life and plan ways you can be more intentional in your growth.
One of the best things I’ve done for myself and my personal growth has been to develop a morning routine. I used to get up at the last minute to get ready for work and would head out the door feeling groggy and rushed. A couple of years ago I decided to be more intentional about how I start my day and it’s made all the difference for me. I show up at work now energized after taking care of myself knowing that I’ve already accomplished some of my most important tasks.
Read more about how to make over your mornings here.
As you look at your 2019 goals is important to consider who you spend time with. Who are you hanging out with most of the time? Who are your mentors? Make sure you surround yourself with people who stretch you and encourage you to grow.
What do you spend your free time doing? Are you doing things that help you reach your goal or are you doing activities that keep you in your comfort zone and stagnant? Evaluate how you will spend your time going forward. What activities will you include that help you reach your goal and what activities will you cut out or decrease?
What are you reading? Reading (or listening to audio books) can be one of the best ways to learn and grow. But only if you take action on what you’re learning. Check out the books I’ve read in 2018 here. Listening to podcasts can be another way to learn and take action.
The Compound Effect is the principle of reaping huge rewards from a series of small, seemingly insignificant habits. These habits, repeated daily, on a consistent basis don’t seem like much in the moment. But over time, the Compound Effect kicks in and the payoff is amazing. The book The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy is one of my favorites for building good, consistent habits.
One of the books I read this year is High Performance Habits by Brendon Burchard. In this book there are 6 types of habits that high performers share:
Check out the book for more details on how to develop each habit.
Working on your mindset every day is so important. Believing that you can achieve your 2019 goals is a crucial part of your success. Step into the mindset of the person that has hit your goal. What does that person think and do? What decisions would he or she make in each situation?
If you are working on a weight loss goal I’d love to have you join me in the Upgrade Your Diet course. This is a great way to work on your mindset around weight loss and dieting. Get on the waiting list here: Upgrade Your Diet: New Habits*New Thinking*New You
New session starts January 2nd.
Urges can be defined as desires that have been habituated. Managing urges can take different forms but one is more effective than others.
Sometimes I feel like my brain is like a toddler laying on the floor of the grocery store screaming for candy. This toddler brain got that way because every time I went to the store I got candy. My brain learned that shopping meant sweets. Once I started trying to lose weight my toddler brain still screamed for sweets every time I went shopping.
Urges tend come up during certain times, certain events, certain places and even when you are feeling particular emotions (sad, stressed, happy, etc.). Sometimes the urge is for a specific food or type of food – sweet, salty, both.
Once you have an urge there are 4 actions you can take: react, resist, distract or observe. Only one of these actions hold the key to overcoming overeating.
Reacting to an urge means you just give in. It fuels the habit and reinforces the habit cycle. The habit becomes even more ingrained over time.
Resisting an urge is using willpower to tell yourself no. This is like white-knuckling, gritting your teeth and fighting against it. It takes a great deal of energy and eventually it wears you down. You can’t recognize the habit cycle or learn anything from it when you are resisting.
Distracting yourself from an urge is when you busy yourself with something different. You may do other tasks like clean the house or you may decide to avoid certain situations all together. Many people distract themselves with other rewards. So they still give into the urge (and reinforce the urge) but they use something other than what they had the urge for. This is the reason that people gain weight when they are trying to quit smoking. They replace the urge to smoke with food.
Observing your urges means to be curious. Take a good look at the urge and allow it to be there without answering it.
This action can change everything for you.
When you have an urge your toddler brain screams to let you know that it feels terrible. It tells you that resisting pizza (or whatever you are having an urge for) is unbearable. But if you take the time to tune into how your body is actually feeling you realize that you feel restless, or antsy. You realize that your brain is creating a whole lot more drama than you are actually physically feeling.
The urge itself is not an emergency but your thoughts about it make it feel like one. The discomfort is created by your mind screaming,
It’s not fair.
I need this.
It’s not that bad.
Everybody else gets to.
I’ve been good all day.
I deserve this.
Use this as an opportunity to learn from the experience. To figure out the things that trigger your urges. To learn to sit with the urge and be curious but not give in. Do a thought download. You may be surprised by what you learn.
What does your toddler brain say during an urge?
Today I want to share with you 3 simple tips I learned from my coach Corinne Crabtree of Phit-n-Phat. Implementing these simple tips can help you break the habit of taking in extra unneeded calories throughout the day.
Sometimes we think weight loss is hard and takes drastic measures. There are so many small tweaks you can do that help you make changes you can keep for life. That way you can stop the cycle of dieting, failing and gaining the weight back.
Corinne calls these BLTs. If you start tracking it you will see just how often you lick the spoon while cooking, take bites while seasoning food, or finish off the last couple bites of your child’s plate. These are just extra calories that add up without you even realizing it.
Sit down when you eat. No eating while standing at the pantry, the counter, or the stove. No standing up and eating while working. Take the time and sit down. It gives you a mental break to evaluate if you are truly hungry or if you are just fog (mindless) eating.
Commit that you will leave 2 or 3 bites behind at every meal. This gets you comfortable with not automatically finishing everything on your plate. Many times you have reached satisfaction but you finish the meal because it’s there. Leaving bites behind can help you eat with more intention – you have to pay attention to how much you’re eating in order to leave the bites.
I was taught to clean my plate and not waste food. However the food is still wasted if I eat it and it ends up on my hips. Either way, eating food that my body doesn’t need or throwing out the food it is wasted.
Implementing these 3 simple tips can save hundreds of calories a day. This allows your body to access the body fat you have stored so that you can fuel your body and lose the weight.
Will you implement any of these tips this week?