By Melissa Costello
When it comes to dieting, diet plans or being consistent with healthy eating and exercise, most of us think that willpower is the way to stay on track, avoid temptation and keep going strong.
But here’s what most people don’t know about willpower; it doesn’t go very far and it depletes very quickly. It needs to be replenished often, so it’s not going to be a reliable source to keep you on your diet plan or on track with your eating and exercise.
In fact, I say, “Screw willpower.” (Excuse my bluntness)
Willpower is one of those things…we think if we have it and engage it, we can stay on track with our diet plan, exercise, not eating crap, whatever, but the truth is, willpower tends to be a precursor to “failing.” It doesn’t stick around long and it’s very fleeting. Stay with me here.
Yes, the dictionary does describe willpower as the ability to control yourself; strong determination that allows you to do something different. Yet, how many times have you told yourself, “I’m going to be strong and not eat the whole pint of ice cream, or half a bag of cookies, or a whole bag of chips?” Or, you start a new diet plan, you do well, lose weight and then gain it all back, and more. Or you eat healthy for a month, then you slip up once, so you throw it all out the window and you feel icky about yourself? And what happens? Willpower fails you!
Or, more accurately, your sabotaging, unaddressed behaviors fail you. You rest on the laurels of your “strength,” yet you haven’t looked at WHY you make the choices you do, what leads you to believe you need willpower and how your inner belief system is really running the show. Willpower is NOT enough OR something to rely on when it comes to food and diet plans, especially.
Most of us have values in our life, especially when it comes to being healthy. I’ve NEVER (and I don’t use that word lightly,) come across anyone who has told me they don’t care about their health. So, it’s important to know your values when it comes to your health and wellness.
COMMITMENT is huge when it comes to your health and eating. Start by asking yourself if you are you committed to being the healthiest you can be? Are you committed to only eating good food? Are you committed to taking impeccable care of yourself? Are you committed to treating your body with respect? And, can you forgive yourself and not beat yourself up or criticize yourself when you make a so-called “bad” food choice that could send you into a spiral? Knowing your values, living by them and being committed to them will keep you present with what’s important in your life. By writing down your top 3 core values, and posting them where you can see them each day, you will be reminded of what’s truly important to you. I know how crappy it can feel to be out of integrity my values, and I’m sure you do to. Every time you make a choice, ask yourself if that choice is in alignment with your core values.
INTENTION is super important. What do you intend when you go to a party? Or when it comes to eating over the holidays? Focus on the positive, not the negative. Setting a clear, positive intention will help. It’s very similar to setting goals. For example, when I go to a party where I know there will be a table full of yummy, tempting food, I set an intention to connect with at least one person, and ask them about their life/day. Or I set an intention to only have a bite of dessert and know that’s enough. This gives me a focus, and guides me toward my values of CONNECTION & VITALITY, versus away from them and toward the dessert table. I really don’t want the dessert, but sometimes being uncomfortable can lead me there.
Taking ACTION is the most important thing here. Because remember, you are the ONLY one who has a choice about what you put in your body. This is not willpower, this is choice. There is a consequence to every choice, whether it’s “good” or “bad.” So you get to decide for yourself if you want to put bad food in your body, overeat, drink too much, and so on. Taking a contrary action, or doing something different than you normally would will start to make new brain grooves and shift your old behaviors over time. That’s why “they” say, it takes at least 32 days to break a habit. Why? Because you have to create NEW belief patterns and lessen the grip the old ones have. And this takes consistent action.
So, take 10 minutes and write out your values around health. Then make a plan that includes engaging the C.I.A. And if you forget, it doesn’t mean you failed, it means your brain is resisting change. So, keep on riding right toward your values, not away from them.
Because remember, consistency with your COMMITMENT, INTENTION and ACTION will bring you long-lasting results. Oh yea, and forgive yourself along the way. I’m pretty sure that will feel a whole lot better than telling yourself you’re a failure!Melissa Costello is a Holistic nutritionist, Plant-based chef, Author, Speaker and Transformational Eating Coach. Her years of work as a private, plant-based chef for celebrity trainer, Tony Horton creator of P90x organically led her to work with her clients on a much deeper level when she recognized the struggles they had with consistent, healthy eating and sustainable weight loss. Her mission is to empower busy professionals to stop the struggle with yo-yo dieting, weight loss and food obsession. Melissa’s in-depth training in Spiritual Psychology, Clinical Nutrition and holistic coaching along with her own personal struggles provides the foundation for her clients to experience powerful breakthroughs and sustainable, profound transformation. To learn more about Melissa and her coaching, visit www.karmachow.com
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