Does this sound familiar?
You commit to a diet plan.
You’re doing really well. Seeing progress. Staying on track.
And then your favorite food shows up.
It might be cheesecake…
or homemade chocolate chip cookies…
And before you know it, you’ve sabotaged your diet. You’ve undone all the hard work you’ve put in over the last few weeks.
And you give up. You’ve “fallen off the wagon” and you go face first into all the cravings.
I’ve been there. There are reasons why this happens. And it doesn’t have to be a disaster. It doesn’t have to mean that you’ve failed.
In my 5-day Cravings Challenge we learn about why cravings happen. Over-hunger is one factor. This happens when our hunger hormones get out of balance. Over-desire is another major factor. Over-desire is the intense craving feeling where you are craving often or where the cravings are so insistent that you feel like you have to give in. There are ways to reduce the over-desire and strategies to handle it when it shows up. We also learn about how we have learned over time to use food to manage our emotions. And best of all, we learn that there are tools you can implement to put better habits into practice. Over time you can decrease the frequency and intensity of cravings and you will know how to handle them when they come.
If you missed the latest 5-day challenge, you can still get all the information in my Conquering Cravings Masterclass. Watch the video below for all the information you need to start learning from your cravings, implementing tools to conquer them, and have success in your weight loss journey.
For more support with your goals join our Nutrition Support and Encouragement group on Facebook.
Often we start a diet strong. We get the plan, the recipes, and the groceries. We plan, we meal prep, and we start with great intentions. But then, days, weeks, or even months later, we revert back to how we’ve always eaten. Here are 3 reasons that it may be falling apart:
You may be having terrible thoughts about what it takes to lose weight.
The problem with this is your thoughts drive your feelings which, in turn, drives the actions you take. If you are having negative thoughts about what it means to be on a diet, you are going to feel terrible and your actions won’t lead to results that get you closer to your goal. You may stay on track for a while using willpower, but that will soon wear thin.
Some examples of theses kinds of thoughts:
You can only be successful with thoughts like these for a very short time. When you see the weight loss journey as misery, you won’t sustain your progress. Much of my coaching helps my clients with thoughts like these. You may feel like some of these thoughts are facts, but there is no benefit to you to keep thinking them. They will not get you to your goal.
The good news is, these thoughts are optional.
When you go on a diet, you don’t think of it as a permanent lifestyle change.
You follow the plan for a time and either give up at some point or reach your goal weight. Then you go back to eating the way you used to eat.
I want to encourage you to lose weight the way you will keep it off. Make changes that you are willing to do for the rest of your life. Instead of making drastic changes all at once, build habits that you’re willing to sustain.
A slow, steady weight loss with a nutrition plan that you develop yourself is going to set you up for long term success compared to a restrictive diet that you only want to do until you hit your goal. This is one of the things we develop in my 6-week coaching program: Eating on Purpose.
You can only handle being restrictive for a time.
Not every diet out there is bad. But some can be so restrictive that they are unhealthy. And sometimes we fall into the trap of looking for the magic bullet. When the diet doesn’t work, we blame the diet. It doesn’t encourage us to look for solutions and listen to our own bodies.
When the diet prescribes how many calories or points or macros you eat, sometimes you may unintentionally overeat – because you have points, or macros left – even when you’re not hungry. When I did Weight Watchers I had a habit of eating all my points. Even if I wasn’t truly hungry. Because I loved food and the plan said I could have it. I did the same thing with the keto diet. I paid more attention to hitting my macros than paying attention to whether I was even hungry. There is no problem with those particular diets, but when you’re eating beyond your body’s need for fuel, you will struggle with your weight.
The solution: Basic, simple, do-able habits repeated daily. Implement changes that you’re willing to stick to for life. Identify thoughts that keep you stuck and do the work to change them.
If you are ready to approach weight loss differently, I’d like to invite you to grab my eBook below. It will introduce you to the 4 basic habits that will help you start to practice awareness and thoughtfulness on a daily basis to drive your results closer and closer to your goal.
No matter what diet you’re starting there are habits that can help increase your chances of success. This can be the year that you set a weight loss goal and make consistent progress towards it.
Are you trying to lose weight with restriction, deprivation and willpower? It works for a time but then you fall “off the wagon” and eventually give up on believing that you can be successful. Implementing these habits will help you establish a routine and consistency to losing weight. Instead of becoming a chore, it can be a learning experience. Failures become opportunities to learn and get better.
There is hope. You are not broken. You are not weak. Grab the eBook and put the habits into practice. Don’t wait. These habits work even if you are not starting a diet.
Once you’ve read through the eBook, join the Facebook community to ask questions, get help, and learn more.
Cravings. They feel so insistent and urgent. So loud in my brain. Resist and they get stronger. Give in and they’re reinforced. It feels like I can’t win.
When it comes to cravings I find that it helps to understand why my cravings happen. Learning about the physiological aspect of hormone regulation and over-hunger in combination with the mental aspect of over-desire has helped me to understand that cravings don’t mean that I am weak or broken. And once I understand that, I can take action and stop feeling helpless.
I also find that the way I have tried to battle cravings in the past has only served to reinforce them. So unfortunate. Cravings are normal, but there are ways you can decrease the frequency and intensity of them. Sometimes you can quiet them all together.
Cravings come from the physical side – over-hunger. This is related to the way your hunger hormones (insulin, leptin, ghrelin) work together. You can improve the balance of these hormones by what you eat and how often you eat. It’s also related to over-desire which comes from how the brain works.
Learning how to decrease over-hunger and over-desire is the key to conquering cravings. I’d love to help you reduce your cravings and urges to overeat and give you the same tools that have been such a help in my own weight loss journey. Join me for a 5 day Facebook training starting December 2.
I know many people want to wait until January to start on their 2020 health goals. This challenge/training is for people who don’t want to wait to make a positive change in their health journey now. If you are ready to start taking action with a group of like-minded people, sign up now for the free online training.
Passive action includes things you are doing to learn more about reaching you goal, thinking about your goal, planning and dreaming about your goal.
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 and executing those actions.
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.
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.
Now, take action! Comment below what action you will take this week.
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.
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.
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?
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?
Doing a thought download is a practice that has helped me in so many areas of my life. I started doing it as a practice to stop overeating. But I have learned that is is simply a good practice to help get the jumbled thoughts out of my head. This helps me start my day with some intentional thinking so I can increase the likelihood of meeting the day’s goals. Some people call this practice a brain dump.
I find when I am thinking about a problem or a challenge my thoughts get all mixed up with my usual habitual thinking. It’s hard to recognize a problem thought that my brain has turned into an automatic thought pattern. Once I start peeling it all apart and writing it down I can begin to think better thoughts to change the outcomes. Sometimes I am surprised by the thoughts once I get them down on paper.
There are no rules.
You cannot mess it up.
There is no right or wrong.
I recommend you do this on paper rather than typing it out. There is something powerful in the connection between your brain and your hand. Start writing whatever’s on your mind. Write for two to three minutes. More if you’re on a roll. Empty out your mind onto the paper.
If it’s just not going to happen on paper, you can type your thought downloads.
You can start with some prompts to get you started if you feel stuck.
Today is going to be a ______ kind of day.
Fill in the blank and then begin to write about why you think the day is going to go that way. Is there anything you can do to have a better day? There are some more prompts at the bottom of the post.
If you are working on stopping overeating you can write down what you ate yesterday. Are you happy with your choices? Why or why not? Did you struggle with anything in particular? What is your eating plan for today. Are there any challenges you’ll face that you can work through before you get to them?
Truly, you can write about anything. Just free write and see what comes.
I hope you’ll give this a try and see how things can change if you start your day by clearing out your thoughts on paper.
This post is a part of a 30 day series for the Ultimate Blogging Challenge. For more in this series click here for the main page with all the links.