I want you to imagine you are at work. Middle of your workday. Or if you don’t work or work alone from home like me…imagine it’s the middle of the night. And your friend…who doesn’t work with you calls you and says “Do you want to hang out?” How would you respond?
“No not right now, maybe later, I’m working or sleeping” right? If my friend calls me in the middle of the night and says this I’m probably going to be much less calm than that…it will probably sound more like “are you completely insane? What is wrong with you? Leave me alone”
Leaving work or getting up in the middle of the night to hang out with friends is a no. It’s a non-negotiable. There are commitments we make that are just unbreakable. But that doesn’t happen automatically. We have made them so. We have reasons and convictions for our commitments that we don’t bend on. Reasons and convictions that are so strong, that we just don’t even question them.
What makes it unbreakable?
I want to talk about making parts of this process non-negotiable or unbreakable for yourself. There are so many skills to build in order to get to our goals, and skill building requires consistency. So we have to intentionally cultivate reasons and convictions that are so strong that we don’t question them.
Think about why you wouldn’t leave work to hang out. What are your reasons? For most of us we value our jobs. We want to do what is expected or required at the minimum and excel and go above and beyond at the maximum. We want to keep our jobs because we want to be able to pay for our housing and utilities and cars and food. We don’t want a termination on our resumes. We want to contribute to our lives and families and society.
Depending on the work you do, you likely care about what you are doing and creating. You value your clients, patients or customers. You want to make a difference in their lives. You want to keep watching your retirement account grow so you can buy that beach house or vacation or just actually retire and not worry about how you will survive financially. You value keeping commitments and doing your best.
Think about why you wouldn’t get up in the middle of the night to hang out. What are your reasons? You value sleep as an important part of your health. You want to have the energy to take care of yourself tomorrow and you know when you don’t get enough sleep you will over consume caffeine and sugar and feel really crappy at bedtime tomorrow. You want to honor your body’s natural rhythms. You know if you don’t sleep, you won’t be clear and productive for work tomorrow and all of the same work reasons probably apply here too.
When it comes to your weight loss journey-especially the places you notice yourself breaking your commitment or negotiating it away-do you know your reasons for making those commitments in the first place? This is part of the reason it’s so easy for us to break them. They are not rooted in value-connected reasons. They are things on a list of things we think we are supposed to be doing or accomplishing, but there is no connection to what is important to us and why.
There will still be discomfort
Now listen. Just because you have reasons and they are connected to your values and you have made the thing non-negotiable…doesn’t mean you won’t be tempted to break them when something comes up. It doesn’t mean it won’t be hard to stay committed. It doesn’t mean that it will be a simple and clear no. It doesn’t make sticking with them fun and easy. It doesn’t mean there isn’t discomfort when you have to say no to yourself (or your friend).
Even with all of those powerful and connected reasons that you go to work and don’t randomly leave to hang out with friends…every day or at least some days you will probably want to hit the snooze button and consider not going. The path of least resistance which is almost always the most desirable one for us to follow because it is much more comfortable -will seem WAYYY better than doing the hard thing and showing up and keeping your commitment.
I was listening to a podcast with a guy who is an elite martial artist and a fitness and workout fanatic in a conversation with a former Navy Seal who is still in amazing shape. They are always talking about discipline and pushing yourself and working out everyday no matter what. I always assumed that they looked forward to and maybe even lived for working out and laughed in the face of cookies and their complete dedication to their health was just weaved into the fabric of their beings. But guess what. Both of them said that everyday when their alarms go off to get up and go workout…they dread it and want to push snooze and go back to sleep. They don’t, but they want to.
Because making a commitment and keeping it-we think that at some point it will no longer feel like a choice. It will just be something we do with no resistance. Or maybe we think that if we have the right reason, the reason will make it feel easy and we won’t feel any resistance.
Alot of my clients have this false belief that they aren’t reaching their goals and they keep “falling off the wagon” because they haven’t found their “compelling” reason. Like there is this one magical thing that they will discover that will solve everything and make the process a breeze.
I have had clients wish that they found out they had some life-threatening health issue caused by their eating habits that would finally make them just stop doing what they are doing and lose the weight. That one reason would compel them to change. That does happen sometimes. I have known people who found out they had lung cancer and stopped having a desire for cigarettes almost immediately…their desire to live just squashed their desire to smoke. However, I also know people who have still struggled to quit smoking. There is no magic reason that will make it feel easy like that. I’m sorry to disappoint you.
If you can set aside that notion and stop searching for the one thing and for it to somehow feel easy, maybe you’ll be able to critically think about it and construct a set of reasons with depth and connection that will help you connect to what you want most and will support you in keeping your commitments.
As you start to think through this, I want to remind you to start small. Saying-I am going to make losing weight non-negotiable…is WAAAY too big to have any hope of making it happen. There are so many things you need to be committed to as a part of that, we have to break it up and get clear about our reasons for each piece.
So what goes into losing weight for you? What are the things you want to be doing and practicing in order to see the scale go down? Which of those include some stumbling blocks or feel hard to remain committed to? Make a list of all of the skills you are trying to build and all of the things you are doing.
So maybe you are planning your meals, or trying to be present with emotion and not use food to escape, maybe you are working on moving your body every day, eating less sugar, eating more veggies. You want to take one thing and go through the reasons you want to do this, what benefit you think it will bring, what it will help you to avoid. You can begin this process with my favorite 3 letter word…why?
So let’s take planning your meals. Ask yourself why you want to do this. And ask why for each of those reasons. We want your foundation of reasons to be deep and wide rather than one dimensional.
When you ask why you are planning your meals, you may answer: because I want to make decisions about my food ahead of time with my adult brain rather than in the moment when my toddler brain is in charge. I don’t want to have to think about it when I’m hungry and only focused on what sounds good instead of what my body needs and what serves my goals. I want to build the skill of being able to navigate the discomfort of saying no to my impulses that don’t serve me. I am learning to use love as the fuel to decide what will feel good in my body instead of deciding based on what emotion I am trying to escape or run away from. Because what I choose to eat has an effect on my ability to create a body that can sit on the floor and play with my grandkids, and get back up again without help. Planning and being faced the next day with having to choose what I want most over what I want in the moment gives me lots of opportunities to practice this valuable skill.
I could keep going and going. Doesn’t this feel so much more rooted than answering the planning question with-because I have to if I want to lose weight. Or for some of my clients-because Natalie says I should.
Now when it comes to choosing a hot fresh pizza and garlic bread for lunch or your salad you packed the night before…it still won’t feel easy. But if you have a nice deep well of reasons that you love that are connected to what is most important to you, it will certainly be easier. You want to feel good about your decisions, even if it’s still uncomfortable to make them.
Making each piece of your weight loss process non-negotiable and unbreakable requires some front end work. And the understanding that non-negotiable doesn’t mean you won’t want to negotiate. It simply means you won’t allow negotiations:)
Aligning with your future self
One other thing…if you are not sure if all of the things you are doing when it comes to your weight loss process are aligned with future you…that is a good place to start. If you don’t actually care about what you are doing and it has no noticeable connection to who you are trying to become, it’s going to be REAL hard to come up with sufficient reasons that will make it unbreakable. We want to make sure that all of the things we are doing or are trying to learn how to do and practice, are getting us closer to her. This is also a good in the moment test…you could make doing this exercise in the moment of decision non-negotiable.
Using a scale of 1-5…one being doing exactly what you do now and 5 being acting in perfect alignment with future you, doing what she would do…rate your daily decisions. So pushing snooze may be a 2 or 3 whereas turning off your alarm altogether is a 1 and getting up and going to the gym even through the discomfort because you committed to moving your body this way today is a 5. You don’t have to be pulling 5’s out left and right but at the end of the day, we want the average of all of our actions to be a 2 or above and keep climbing as we practice the skills and keep drawing on our reasons that we love to keep our commitments.
As you make each decision in your day…ask: where does this rate on the future me scale? And shoot for forward motion. Inching toward her, one non-negotiable decision at a time.
If you want help making decisions non-negotiable and commitments unbreakable, that is one of the many skills we work to build in Love First Weight Loss. Head to itbeginswithathought.com/apply. See you soon!