The things we say….
“What the Hell were you thinking? Why do you keep doing this? I told you yesterday that you can’t do this anymore. Why aren’t you listening? I guess you just won’t listen. You are going to be destined for failure. There is no way you can succeed when you keep doing this. No one else seems to have this same issue. What is wrong with you? I give up…”
Does this conversation sound familiar to you? Most of us have had this conversation with ourselves at one time or another (maybe lots of times) after eating off our plan. When we intended to eat to lose weight but ended up eating something that does not support that goal.
I have to ask you, when you read that conversation, how do you feel? What emotions does it generate in you? Just typing it made me feel pretty negative. And imagine if this conversation just kept going All. Day. Long. That would be a day of feeling pretty crappy about a decision that has long passed.
So why do we do this? I think there are multiple reasons. One is that we have learned this behaviour through diet culture. Traditional diets are very black or white. You are “on” or “off”, or you are “good” or “bad”. I think the other reason is that our brains truly think they need to be tough on ourselves to make change happen. We think that if we act nicely towards ourselves about food choices, we will spiral into a pit of overeating that we could never climb out of. I would like to pose the argument that it is exactly the opposite.
Let’s make room for grey
First off, let’s agree to get rid of the black and white thinking about losing weight. It NEVER helps. I promise. Make space for some grey in your weight loss plans. The truth is, everything you eat is just a choice. All choices are neutral. There is no such thing as a “good” food or a “bad” food. There is no “cheating”. It is just all choices. Some choices we make will move us towards our weight loss goals and some won’t. If you want to lose weight, you need to make more choices that move you towards your goals but that does not mean every choice will need to do that. Its about finding the balance for your particular body that allows you to see the results you want.
The Problem with the Tough Love Approach
Here is my issue with constantly being tough on ourselves about our food choices… It is very ineffective and usually has to opposite result. If we think through using the thought model (see here for more details on the thought model), we have a circumstance of eating something off plan. Our thoughts are then very negative and they generate negative emotions like defeat, lack of control, sadness. How do we act when we are feeling these negative emotions? Usually not in line with our eating plan. Most of us would be far more likely to eat off plan when feeling negatively. We would also be less likely to plan for a future food choices. We end up with the result of not being successful and struggling more with our eating choices. So by being tough on ourselves, we get the exact opposite results from what we want.
Let’s try the positive parenting style
Say we ate the same thing but we chose to think a neutral thought about it. Something like, “ that was just a choice”. How would you feel with that thought? I feel pretty neutral. And the interesting thing is, when I feel neutral about a food choice, I am in a better place to make a choice that will move me toward my goals the next time. How about you? The results then end up being that one food choice was made that did not move you toward your goals but it was far easier to get back to making the choices that would. It would be far easier to problem solve and learn from the situation so that it doesn’t happen again.
Can’t Stop Beating Yourself Up? I Can Help.
It is ok if these patterns are hard to change. My private coaching offers the objectivity that can be hard to have for yourself. I can help you find the thought patterns that are holding you back and change them to bring ease into your food choices. Book your free introductory session now.