We sometimes fail to implement healthier habits because we bite off more than we can chew. We think if we just want to change bad enough we can get it done. We can muscle through with willpower and determination. But often, that method fails and we fall short of the finish line.
The book Atomic Habits by James Clear has been my favorite read so far this year. He describes atomic habits as tiny changes. Just a minuscule tweak in your daily systems that bring a 1% improvement. These little tweaks don’t seem to make a difference, but each tiny habit improvement builds on the next and over time your 1% gains turn into big wins.
This book breaks down the science of habit formation in an interesting way that makes you want to start implementing change. I have written before on one of my favorite books, The Compound Effect. Atomic habits are a great example of how tiny, incremental habits compound over time to create the results you want in your life.
This is an exciting month for me. I started my Life Coach Certification training. This has been one of my big goals for a couple of years and the time has come to go for it. Even though I have already been coaching others, this training will put more tools in my toolbox so that I can grow and help others even more.
Sometimes there is a misconception that life coaches are trying to be counselors or therapists. A life coach serves a different role. The services of a life coach provide the client with the opportunity to examine her own thinking and recognize the effect that that thinking is having on her results. Learning to manage your mind and your emotions is one of the most important things you can learn in life. If you are not achieving the goals you want, a life coach may be just the thing you need.
I hope you’ll stay tuned as I share what I’m learning with you. Over the next few months I’ll be needing clients who will let me practice my new found skills while I’m in training. Let me know if I can be of service!
If you are anything like me some of these passive actions will sound familiar:
There is nothing wrong with passive action in general. But sometimes we get stuck there and we feel like we are “doing the work” to lose weight, but we really haven’t started any forward motion. Change will happen when you shift from passive action to massive action.
To clarify, massive action doesn’t necessarily mean huge, scary changes. It just means moving outside your comfort zone and committing to a plan of action.
It means you have a willingness to learn from mistakes. When you are stuck in passive action you may be thinking that you are just learning how to do it perfectly. That if you can just find the right plan or the right “magic bullet” you will finally get it right. But the funny part is, we learn so much more from trying things and making mistakes and trying again.
If you’ve been stuck in passive action without taking any steps toward your goal I want to encourage you to take a risk. Choose a course of action, take the risk & push yourself towards your goal. There’s nothing wrong with learning and researching, but then you have to take action.
Plan to run into obstacles and then plan for how you will tackle them. Urges and cravings will come and threaten to derail you. Plan for them. They are normal. They provide you with an opportunity to learn. Plan for how you will handle failure and how you will respond.
If you need some ideas for action steps you can take the free 7 day Basics of Weight Loss email course. Sign up here.
It’s always going to be easier to eat healthfully when you prep your own food at home. However, sometimes it is fun to eat at a restaurant. My family and I generally eat out once a week. Sometimes I use that time as my weekly Joy Meal. But other times I want to make better choices and save my Joy Meal for another day.
If you have read my blogs you will know that I teach planning ahead as one of the key habits for staying on track with eating and losing weight. I recommend that when you are eating out you still plan ahead. Most restaurants have menus that you can access online to make your plan. I’ve prepared a Dining Out Guide that you can download with some tips for making better choices when eating out. I’ve included tips for most types of restaurants to help you keep on track with your goals! Grab your copy below.
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.