In this episode of Listener Questions, I’m addressing a couple of questions almost everyone asks me when they find out I’m a weight loss coach: how to stop doing what isn’t working, and where to start with it all.
One thing that is very common among those of us who have struggled with losing weight is sticking to the plan we’ve created versus giving in to those in-the-moment persuasive thoughts that tell us we should be able to eat or do whatever we want. Having competing desires when trying to create habit change is a challenge, but they don’t have to stop you in your tracks.
Tune in for part two of Listener Questions as I show you how to break the cycle of perpetually putting off habit change, and where to begin with your weight loss journey. There are 2 requirements that are absolutely crucial if you want to start making small changes, and I’m guiding you through them in this episode.
This is Weight Loss Success with Natalie Brown, episode 86.
Welcome to Weight Loss Success with Natalie Brown. If you’re a successful woman who is ready to stop struggling with your weight, you’re in the right place. You’ll learn everything you need to know to lose weight for the last time in bitesize pieces. Here’s your host, Master Certified coach, Natalie Brown.
Hello everybody. Some more listener questions answered today and I think you’ll really appreciate them because they are questions pretty much everyone asks me. As soon as people find out I’m a weight loss coach, they want to know how to stop what they’re doing that isn’t working, or where to even begin the process.
So let’s dive in. First listener question. “I’m a fan of creating a plan to follow for what I will and won’t eat, but I have a hard time sticking to it. At some point the night before, my brain will start to try and rationalize why tomorrow isn’t the right day to start my plan. I know that I don’t truly want to put it off, but somehow, I always end up falling for it and of course regretting it afterwards.
What can I do or say to myself to help me stick to the plan I made and not listen to any excuses from my toddler brain, which I know has been programmed to produce these automatic and in-the-moment persuasive thoughts? I would love to see a post or hear a podcast about how to break the cycle of perpetually putting off habit change. I feel like I’m probably not alone in needing to build this skill.
When we understand that we are engaging in unhealthy habits that are sabotaging our goals and weight loss, and even truly believe that our lives will be genuinely better once we’ve put them behind us, but keep putting off the changes until tomorrow, next week, next month, et cetera. I feel like this has got to be a very common thing among those of us who struggle.”
First of all, yes. This is a very common thing. It’s a huge part of the struggle. And there are a couple pieces I want to address and a couple of things I’ll offer to you to try.
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. All true.
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 do/eat what you want in the moment. You want to keep doing what you’re doing. You want to eat the thing that you see or that sounds good instead of what you planned. You want to escape with food. You want to be comfortable.
We have conflicting desires, competing wants. And acknowledging that that is true can be very freeing in and of itself. 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 just 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 bad, 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. There are things we don’t want to do like change dirty diapers, or take out the garbage, or maybe particular tasks at work. Whatever it may be. 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 the action. Desire drives action.
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, gets it all out in the open. So start by listing your ultimate desires, the things you really want. Your future you desires.
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 are going to make today.
Making a plan that includes more veggies and protein and less Oreos and iced caramel macchiatos, drinking primarily water, incorporating fasting, all the things. And then we also need to make a list of all the things we desire today.
So your current you desires, as opposed to your 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 full 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 really have to address autonomy because it really comes back to that, to freedom, free will, a critically important component of our human nature.
I was just reading about this in Mini Habits for Weight Loss recently, and I feel it applies perfectly here. The antithesis of autonomy is dependence and it exists on two levels, both conscious and subconscious.
For example, you want to lose weight and you decide to avoid eating cake but you see a slice of cake and you 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. Now your subconscious desire to eat cake is being 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, right?
Whether you eat the cake or not, some part of you is going to feel controlled. 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. So your conscious mind wins for now, but your subconscious will win in the end. So 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 really 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.
Some cake is delicious and I like to eat it sometimes. But if I ate it every time I saw it, or thought it sounded good, I wouldn’t have what I really want, which is a body that can move and bend and run and sleep and thrive and feel energized and alive.
I had to do conscious work to align my subconscious desires. I had some subconscious desires also to feel safe and unchallenged as well. It’s not always just desire for cake under there. It’s often a desire for comfort, or relief, or to avoid failure.
So we want to investigate those underlying desires, those subconscious ones, those now ones, those toddler brain desires. Don’t ignore them or wish them away. Acknowledge them and ask why. Educate yourself on yourself.
This allows you to understand your desires, to own them, and therefore retain your autonomy and make decisions from that empowered place. Once you’ve done this inner work, make small changes that feel doable and desirable.
They have to be high on both of those scales. If it’s doable, meaning possible for you but you have no desire, you’re not going to do it. And the same is true if it’s something you really want to do but isn’t possible for you. So we want to make sure they’re in the doable and desirable quadron.
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.
If you love the ritual of driving through on the way to work and you want to keep it, do. Just order a small sugary coffee beverage, make sure to call it that too. I am drinking a small sugary coffee beverage. I just think it sounds so much less appealing than an iced caramel macchiato.
And I mean, it’s no less true. It is a sugar coffee beverage. But also get a large water and make a rule that you drink the water first. You can continue to upgrade this habit, little pieces at a time, until it’s aligned with future you.
Maybe future you drives through but gets a dark roast with a splash of soy milk and no sugar at all. Maybe future you drinks green tea. Who knows? With your autonomy intact and baby steps, the sky is the limit. This leads beautifully into the next question, which is literally, “Where do I even begin with weight loss?”
I think there are a couple of key things to sort through before you take any action. Why do I want to lose weight? Why that number? What am I really after? Why does this matter?
I think it’s critically important to understand this and be in love with your reason. Notice if your reason is coming from what you lack and hope to gain. Confidence, self-love, acceptance. If we want weight loss to create these things for us, it will be an uphill battle.
You can’t scoop anything out of an empty hole. It’s going to be really hard to fill you up with something that doesn’t exist. We want to go to work getting curious about the beliefs that stand in the way of you being confident, feeling love for you, and accepting yourself, and addressing them or at least beginning to before we dive in headlong to the process of weight loss.
That is part of what creates lasting weight loss. When we can come at it from abundance and love, rather than lack. Why am I where I am today? This is another thing to look into. What did my past teach me about food, my body, dieting, weight, size, worth, value? And what are my current habits and beliefs about food, my body, dieting, weight, size, worth, value?
We have to know and understand our backstory to some extent because there’s a fair amount of unpacking it and unbelieving it that is also a part of lasting weight loss. I’ll address this more completely in a future podcast I think, on its own in a little more detail.
But I will say I think this is one of the benefits of going through this process of mindset weight loss with me in my program. We do this intense pre-work together so that you can really go into the logistical weight loss part of the process from such a different place.
A more present, loving, patient, peaceful, and therefore heaps more effective place. If you’re interested in hopping on my waitlist, you’ll be the first to know when applications for my program open up again. Plus you’ll get a couple of fun bonuses I’ve been creating exclusively for my waitlist peeps.
So you can head to itbeginswithathought.com/waitlist to jump on that list. I am in the midst of making some amazing changes over here for my clients, including a beautiful brand new membership site for them that’s going to make navigating the program and all of the awesome content so luxurious and easy, as well as make room for some super fun bonus content, like podcast study guides for every episode, especially for my clients.
I just had a design meeting with my web consultant today and I am super pumped about how it’s shaping up. I’m so excited. And I can’t wait to share with some other exciting new developments and opportunities I have opening up for you soon, I promise.
My program, The Last Beginning is evolving into something even more fantastic. And really, listening to my inner knowing like I talked about on the last episode is leading to some amazing magic that I think is going to benefit you all and all the amazing women that are going to be a part of it so much. So stay tuned and I’ll see you soon.
Thanks for listening to this week’s episode of Weight Loss Success with Natalie Brown. If you want to learn more about how to lose weight for the last time, come on over to itbeginswithathought.com. We’ll see you here next week.