Do you know how many times as a health coach I’ve heard someone tell me, “I’ll start on Monday,” or “I’ve got a birthday party coming up, I’ll start after that.” Or “I just want to lose 5 lbs for my vacation coming up, or my wedding, or my… You can fill in the blank. I know you can fill in the blank because you and I have all been there. We’ve started and stopped eating healthy a million times and we don’t even know why. This failure of having long term success at weight loss drives us to believe the latest trendy diet, expensive cosmetic procedure, or quick fix can get us to where we want to be faster. But we all know this is a cop out and we would be lying to ourselves if we believed the quick fix or the “jumpstart we’ve been looking for” would cure our disease of self-sabotage. I can’t count the number of times I’ve told myself over the years I’m going to go to the gym 5 times this week and only end up making it twice. How many times I’ve said I’m going to do a fast day only to have remembered the morning of the fast that there was going to be a brunch at church that day. Heaven forbid I actually go to the brunch just for fellowship and not to eat. Now there’s a novel idea! Here’s one I’m really good at, I go to the gym and instead of pushing myself hard I pick an easy workout because I make the excuse that I didn’t sleep as well the day before or because I’m really sore. Ladies, we can pick any number of excuses to talk ourselves out of anything, my point is we need to know what is causing this self-sabotaging behavior and hit it head on. Because if we don’t, we will live the rest of our lives in a bad habit loop of starting and stopping, starting and stopping. Who’s ready to get started and keep on going in the pursuit of their dreams? I feel like there should be a little emoji insert here with the cute girl raising her hand!
Do the promises you make to yourself or the goals you set hold little value or weight? I want you to ponder this question for a second and really think about the impact this has had on your life so far. Think about your health, your family, your relationships, the money in your bank account, your spiritual life, your intellectual state, and finally how has broken promises impacted you psychologically?
Now ask yourself where do you see “good fruit” in these areas because you haven’t broken a promise to yourself?
I ask you to consciously ponder these questions because when we look at it with eyes wide open we begin to actually see patterns and can start to recognize the habit loops that are either keeping us stuck or freeing us to be the amazing human we were created to become.
God gave us brilliant minds that can think and do incredible things, but he also gave us part of our minds that we seriously have no control over! That darn subconscious mind is controlling 90% of your actions today! You need to know that when it comes to wanting to make an improvement in your life and make serious headway on a goal you will need to train your brain first. No cookie cutter approach or shortcuts will get you there.
The subconscious mind is a sponge and soaks up all the things we see, hear and do. Therefore, every time you start and stop something important to you, you are essentially training and reinforcing the behavior to start something and then stop. It’s not your fault though, we all have been given our subconscious programming by the time we were 6 years old! Yikes, but what we can do about it now is stop re-enforcing the behaviors that keep telling our programming that it’s true (beliefs we have about ourselves). It’s true that every time I start a new diet and then fail a week later I’m just destined to be overweight (belief). It’s true that every time I start going to the gym and stop a few days later I’m a failure (belief). It’s true that when I accidently stand up my friend for a coffee date I can’t keep commitments (belief). While all these actions may be true of things you have done, it’s the beliefs behind the actions that is driving the behavior. This is self-sabotage at its finest. We don’t say to ourselves “ya, let me start that diet just to fail at it,” or “sign me up for $27/mo at the gym just to show up twice a year!” or “I secretly stood up my skinny friend Kristy for that coffee date because I didn’t want her to see that I was going to order a 20oz double caramel macchiato, with whip!”
I am now 42 years old but I can honestly tell you that in my 20’s and early 30’s I let the subconscious brain have its way with me. We all have fears, but I wasn’t able to name mine until I was almost 40! That’s a long time of living and not knowing that the fear of rejection was driving my actions 90% of the day! I was late to everything, I had a pot of coffee a day addiction, stayed up late every night till 11 and watched multiple shows on tv. I worked out maybe 2 times a week if I was lucky and ate pretty much anything I wanted without thinking of the repercussions. I grew to a size 12 after my babies came along. My husband used to get mad at me for not picking up the house because I was okay with it being a mess, dinner was never ready on time and I frequently would forget important appointments with professionals or friends. I was a mess! Not that I’m perfect now but for the last several years I’ve worked hard on my habits and I’ve gotten some solid help from professionals and read a ton of books to help me identify the beliefs I held about myself so that I could create a new me, but it had to start with re-training my subconscious. You would think that a fear of rejection would catapult me into a feverish quest to make everyone happy and do my best at everything instead I just became okay with being mediocre. My fear paralyzed my ability to be really successful at anything.
So how did I get from there to where I am today? From Fear to Freedom!
1. It will take you 100% of the time saying yes to the promise you made to yourself, to do it anyways despite the obstacles or excuses we can come up with. Start with something easy and do it for 30 days in a row. Never breaking your promise! Our words to ourselves have power and our actions shape who we become. Try starting with getting out of bed when your alarm goes off, or drinking half your body weight in oz of water a day. I did this with my coffee addiction. I went cold turkey and stayed off of it for 30 days. At the end I only wanted 1 cup a day. It also helped that during this 30 day break from coffee I started Isagenix. It helped me overcome my addiction so much faster and gave me a 30 day window of change I needed. It only take 30 days to solidify a habit. Some references say longer but start with 30! If you break your habit 15 days in you must start back at day 1 again.
2. Try the one less or one more method. Depending on what the goal is of course you may want to do one less than a week or day or one more per week or day. The one less goal refers to something not good for us. Like cigarettes or soda. Try one less cigarette per day for 30 days or one less diet Pepsi per day or week until the habit is diminished. For the one more goal, try going to the gym one more day this week or one more cup of greens per day than the last day until you reach 6 cups a day! For me the key to weight loss was eating enough protein. But getting in 170 grams of protein a day (what my body needs based on my exercise habits) is a daunting task. I started with the one more per day method until I got it up to 170 and could get my body used to it. In this instance 15 more grams a day was how I was able to go from eating 70 g/day and within a week finally reaching my goal. That was adding in an additional 3oz of chicken or one scoop of my IsaPro pure whey protein.
3. Do it now, don’t delay! This method works for me every time and it’s how I no longer forget any meetings or important dates with friends. If I make an appointment I put it in my phone ASAP. I set a reminder on the phone as well as an extra layer of security with a 15 min window in case I need to drive somewhere. Read Mel Robbins 5 Sec Rule book to see how you can make significant life changes with just this one rule! She essentially says don’t give yourself longer than 5 sec to make a decision. Count backward from 5 and go!
4. Set a SMART goal. Make it specific, measureable, attainable, realistic and time bound. We all need the carrot dangling in front of us to keep us moving in the right direction. What is your carrot? Do you want to lose 50lbs by your high school graduation? I wasn’t competitive by nature. I never grew up around sports and my parents were just hard working people that let us do whatever we wanted as kids. So the idea of competition never really sunk in until I was 35. That’s when I discovered bikini competitions and I was hooked! I set my first goal of 12 weeks to prep and I had a specific body fat I was going for. My trainer assured me it was attainable and realistic and so I went for it! I ended up placing first in my division. These competitions were hard and took a lot of grit and consistency of long term effort, but they also gave me new habits. The eating and workout habits of a competitor are not even close to what I do on a day to day basis now but the foundations are there and my habits on a daily basis are to seek out protein and low carb options.
5. Don’t overcommit yourself while working on new mindset shifts and goals. Life is overwhelming enough, we don’t need to intentionally say yes to more things in the midst of trying to better ourselves. Think of things you can take off your plate right now and if someone asks you to do something right now, you better think long and hard before you say yes. Only do things that are incredibly important to you and say YES to serving you right now. This is so important to your ability to move forward in your life so that you eventually can be a blessing to many people. I was the queen of over commitments, much to my husband’s dislike. I can now identify in myself that my excuse for not getting something important done was because I was too busy. I liked the over commitment because it was an easy cop out. But now I’ve learned to weigh a YES against how it will impact my family, my finances, my spiritual walk and my physical body. For example, we don’t have pets in our house, simply because they demand a lot of time and attention and I don’t want to be responsible for a pet at this time in my life. It’s a silly example but I know for myself a pet would have a financial impact on the family and cause a strain in my marriage because of what I know from a past experience. We travel all the time and having to kennel them would be sad and costly.
6. Be 100% real with yourself. Every time you blow off going to the gym or you stop at Starbucks for the 2nd latte of the day or you eat the bag of candy before bed you are training your brain how to think and behave. Tell yourself “no” more often to the habits that you know will ultimately lead you to a bad place and “yes” more often to the habits that will ultimately free you. Freedom feels so good ladies! Don’t be stuck in a prison of the mind, you can break free. It takes time but you are worth every second of attention you give to this effort!