As soon as people find out I’m a weight loss coach, they want to know one thing: how to stop what they’re doing that isn’t working.
Engaging in unhealthy habits and sabotaging our goals and weight loss, even though we believe that our lives will be genuinely better once we’ve put them behind us, is very common. It’s a huge part of the struggle.
Here are a couple of things I’ll offer to you to try.
Honoring what is true
One of the most important things to honor is where you are and what is true.
You want to lose weight. You want to stick to your plan. You want to start tomorrow. You want the life and body that will be a result of making these changes. You want to show yourself that you are capable of creating these changes.
What is also true, you want to eat things that aren’t on your plan or scrap it altogether. You want to put off starting until later or never. You want to eat what you want at the moment. You want to keep doing what you’re doing. You want to be comfortable.
We have conflicting desires and competing wants. Acknowledging that that is true can be very freeing in and of itself.
Getting mad or staying in denial
The alternative, which I see a lot, is getting mad at ourselves about the conflict.
It shouldn’t be there. We shouldn’t want to eat these other things. We should be able to stick to the freaking plan. It’s not that hard.
The other alternative to acknowledging is denying that the competing desires exist.
My clients will say, “I want to lose weight so badly. I want to stick to my protocol. I don’t even want to eat these other things that aren’t on my protocol because I want to stick to my protocol, and I want to lose weight.”
But they aren’t losing weight. They aren’t sticking to the protocols or plans, and they are eating the other things that aren’t on their plans.
Whether we’re willing to admit it or not, if we are doing it, that’s because on some level, for some reason, we do want to.
We don’t do things that we don’t have any desire at all to do.
Think about it. We don’t want to change dirty diapers, take out the garbage, or maybe do a particular task at work. But we do them because we have another desire that is driving the behavior.
For example, we change the dirty diapers because we’d rather smell a clean one. We want our baby’s skin to be rash-free, and we want a happy, comfortable, quiet kid. Those desires drive us to take action.
Desire drives action.
Telling the truth about what you want
So when we have competing desires like this, telling ourselves the truth is primary.
I want to stick to my plan, and I want to eat this other thing.
This gets us on the same page with ourselves and gets it all out in the open.
So start by listing your ultimate desires, the things you really want.
I want to get off cholesterol meds. I want to be able to run without my joints hurting. I want to change my relationship with food.
And then, really be clear about what that will require in terms of changes you will make today.
Next, make a list of all the things we desire today. This will be a list of the things that current you desires, as opposed to what future you desires.
I want to eat whatever I want without restriction today. I want to make eating decisions in the moment right now. I want to eat sweets late at night. I want to drink anything but water.
And then also, be super clear and honest about what that will create in terms of future you.
We want to be transparent and honest about what we want as well as honest about the consequences of those choices. Not so we can feel crappy about them, but so we can look at the complete picture with open eyes.
We want to deny and ignore and start tomorrow, so we don’t have to do this work of being honest and getting real with ourselves, but if we don’t get on the same page with ourselves, we will never be able to get where we ultimately want to go.
Now, in terms of how we change this, we have to address autonomy. It comes back to freedom and free will. These are critically important components of human nature.
For example, you want to lose weight and decide to avoid eating cake, but you see a slice of cake and eat it. Your conscious desire, that ultimate desire to lose weight and avoid eating cake, was controlled by your subconscious desire to eat cake. That in the moment, right now, not thinking about the consequences.
Or you want to lose weight and decide to avoid eating cake, and when you see a slice of cake, you resist it. You don’t eat it. So now your subconscious desire to eat cake is controlled by your conscious desire to lose weight and avoid cake. But you feel deprived and miserable because you want to eat the cake. It’s a bit of a lose-lose.
Whether you eat the cake or not, some part of you is going to feel controlled. Of course, you can resist and ignore those subconscious desires for a time until your willpower’s gone, but your subconscious will not allow itself to be controlled for long.
We require and desire autonomy.
Understanding our unconscious desires
We have to bring our subconscious and conscious desires into alignment. That doesn’t mean we have to stop liking cake, but it does mean we have to question that desire and understand why it’s there and the consequences of always listening to and answering it. And then, really learn to be okay with liking cake and choosing not to eat it every time.
We want to investigate those underlying subconscious toddler brain desires. Don’t ignore them or wish them away. Instead, acknowledge them and ask why. Educate yourself on yourself.
This allows you to understand your desires, own them, and therefore retain your autonomy and make decisions from that empowered place.
Doable and desirable changes
Once you’ve done this inner work, make small changes that feel doable and desirable. The changes you’re making have to be both, or they won’t be lasting.
For example, if you are in the habit of getting a sugary coffee beverage every morning and the thought of not doing it feels terrifying or terrible, you don’t have to give it up altogether.
Think of small ways you could upgrade it to be more in alignment with your ultimate desires.
With your autonomy intact and baby steps, the sky is the limit.
When you’re ready to get started, download my free PDF guide, Freedom From Food Rules. You’ll learn how to get back to your own inner wisdom about taking care of your body and how to take back your power when it comes to fueling your body. Download now.