I’m 45 years old and sick and tired of dieting. Every time I start I’m only able to keep motivated for few days and then I usually binge and feel miserable for days. Since I started dieting I’ve packed on 20 kg. I need help to make a long lasting change. What can I do??
“The past doesn’t equal the future” (Anthony Robbins). Just because you failed in the past doesn’t mean you will fail in the future. Most of us are unaware of the great ability we can command when we focus all our resources on mastering a single area of our lives. Controlled focus is like a laser beam that can cut through anything that is stopping you. When we focus consistently on improving any area, we develop unique distinctions on how to make that area better. One reason so few of us achieve what we truly want is that we never direct our focus. We don’t concentrate our power. Our quality of life does not come down to our capability. What people do is very different from what they CAN do.
How to create lasting change?
For changes to be of any true value, they’ve got to be lasting. We’ve all experienced change for a moment, only to feel let down and disappointed in the end. In fact, many people attempt change with a sense of fear because unconsciously they believe the change will only be temporary. A prime example of this is someone who needs to begin dieting, but puts it off, primarily because she unconsciously knows that whatever pain she endures in order to create the change will bring her only a short term reward. Maybe that’s you.
There are twin forces that drive all human behaviour – “the need to avoid pain” and “the desire to gain pleasure”. Understanding that principle will enable you to understand that when we don’t take action towards a desirable goal/achievement it is because we believe that taking action will be more painful than not taking action. In your case, taking action could mean that you will suffer enormous pain of not being able to eat your favourite food, feeling hungry all the time and that you won’t be able to socialize as it always involves food and this is what you focus on when you start a diet. You experience these twin forces all the time in all areas of your life. Think about when you put things off until the last minute. You put it off because doing it in your mind is more painful (might need your time and effort) than not doing it. When the deadline gets closer you finish it because at that point, not doing and bearing the consequences of that action is more painful to you than actually finishing it.
If you learn to control those two forces in your life, you can get and achieve what you want. The key to long lasting success is to change your focus to what you perceive as pleasurable and painful. So what do you need to do to lose weight??
Identify what you want, that is, how many kg do you want to lose and how much time you give yourself to reach that goal. Be realistic as shedding off too much weight too fast will not give you long lasting results.
Write down all the changes you need to make in your diet, and your lifestyle in general to achieve your goal. You might want to get professional help to get insight into how you can lose the weight and keep it off.
Write a list of the payoffs of your destructive behaviour. What pleasure do you get from eating unhealthily? Once you find the payoffs that control your behaviour, you can start to change them. A payoff in itself is not unhealthy. There is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting a warm feeling, desiring a sense of calm and peace, needing emotional relief, seeking love and acceptance, or finding safety. A payoff is a payoff whether it comes from food or from something else so what you want is to find new ways of receiving pleasure. Listening to nice music, exercising, socializing, and shopping are few examples of different behaviours that can give you the same pleasure and fulfilment as food does. You should continue to have the payoffs, just stop getting them from food.
Change what you link pain and pleasure to. Until now you have probably focused more on the pain associated with dieting than the pain of being overweight. Also the instant pleasure you get from food is more real to you than the pleasure of future success. Instead, focus on all the pleasure associated with eating healthily and all the pain associated with eating the junk food. You will then be motivated to stick to a healthy meal plan. Remember: you need a reason to change and that reason should be strong enough to overshadow any pain you associate with changing your diet. I suggest you make two lists, one with all the pain associated with keeping the same destructive behaviour and another list with all the pleasure associated with changing that behaviour. Keep those two lists somewhere you can see them everyday to serve as a reminder what you should direct your focus on.
When you think you don’t have time it means that you are not making that particular project a priority. In fact, how you choose to spend the 1440 min a day, 168 hours a week and 365 days of the year has everything to do with prioritization.
If you would get million dollars for the successful achievement of whatever it is you say you want in your life, what would you do differently to go about getting it?
If today was your last chance to achieve a particular goal ex, your last chance to change your lifestyle. How would that change the effort you put into it??
Find a strong reason to do whatever it is you want to achieve and you will find a way. Ask yourself how important is it for you to change your lifestyle and to lose weight? Is that reason strong enough?? If it isn’t think again.
Change your beliefs. If you truly believe that you can’t succeed [to lose weight], you instantly lose your motivation to do anything to change your behaviour. The best way to change your beliefs is by using visualization in a deeply relaxed state. When you fully relax you are better equipped to enter and change old distorted values and beliefs stored in your subconscious mind. Repetition is the key. Visualizing yourself achieving desirable results over and over again will dramatically influence your behaviour.
Remember: Changing your lifestyle is all about creating new habits. By systematically improving your habits one at a time, you can dramatically improve your overall lifestyle. Develop the habit of changing your habits!
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