Tips Are Not Enough

Oct 9, 2015

Tips Are Not Enough

I find it so frustrating when book after book and article after article provides simply a list of tips for weight loss as if what is standing in the way of my success is lack of knowledge, creativity or resourcefulness.

Resourceful? Creative? Enterprising? You have to see what hoops I can jump through to get my hands on a B&W heavy crumb cake, even on short notice! ts not for lack of cleverness or even commitment that I stumble with managing my weight. It is my baffling, intermittent unwillingness to take the action in time to save myself that needs solving. So what is it then that gets on the way of actually taking these actions? (See What I Really Needed To Know).

Once I get to what I call the I-don’t-care place, not surprisingly, I don’t care. At least not until after I have swallowed the last bite. Then I care. I care big time. And so do my clients.

In my practice as well as my own life I repeatedly see that cascade of derailment initiated by the same couple of common stumbling blocks – all of which are entirely manageable as long as they are recognized far enough in advance.

Stumbling Block #1 – Failing to Heed your Early Warning System
We all have an incredibly accurate and discerning inner guidance system that will alert us to pending food disaster. It is an early warning system of sorts. When you get that niggling sense of “this may not be such a smart thing”, pay attention. The universe is tugging on your sleeve so you can jump out of the road before the food wagon runs you down.

Stumbling Block #2 – Missing the Pivotal Moment to Make Your Pre-Emptive Strike
There is virtually always some kind of action that can be taken to head off disaster. Hindsight will always provide a few good ideas…unfortunately after the fact. It is really worth figuring out for yourself what stands in your way when you know what to do but simply don’t do it. Do you wait a little too long to take action so that the temptation out weighs your commitment? Do you make promises about later that you never even pin down, never mind follow through on? Is it shame or resentment that you would need to go to such lengths?  Is it laziness or inappropriately cavalier attitude?

What is pushing the envelope too far for you? Even if the bottom line is that you just don’t want to deny yourself the pleasure of the food, it is worth understanding this about yourself. It gives you clues as to where your efforts to help yourself need to be focused. Perhaps you are not staying convinced that the benefits of weight loss are worth the give up or the work. That is still a place to start. Perhaps your focus still needs to be on the convincing stage. Good to know.

Stumbling Block #3 – Negotiating/Lack of Consistency
If you want to make sure it never gets any easier: negotiate, be inconsistent. Intermittent reinforcement is exactly how the gambling industry keeps you coming back. You can create a sort of firewall around you by saying no to the same things in the same way in the same places over and over again. Negotiability means I am considering talking myself into doing something that I already know is not a good idea – otherwise I wouldn’t be discussing it with myself at all. Every time I say no, no gets a tiny bit easier. But every time I say yes, no gets harder.

And before you start with the exasperated sighs, it doesn’t have to be every little thing. Each of us has a few lynchpin behaviors that create a domino effect – be it in the right direction or the wrong one. For me there are three positive steps that make all the difference: how I behave on Mondays, always having vegetables ready/planned and doing some deliberate exercise (no matter how wimpy) every day.

Stumbling Block #4 – Expecting Yourself to Override an Unsupportive Environment
This is where we lose all the smart people. Homo sapiens respond to food cues. This is an irrefutable law of nature. (Check out The End of Overeating:  Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite if you think you are alone in this!). Nowhere but in America do you see demonstrated more clearly that if you don’t have a plan for the environment, the environment has a plan for you. Look around. We are a direct reflection of the foods (read: people, restaurants, etc.) that surround us. In all my years of practice I have never met anyone too stupid to come up with ways to manage their environment. But I have met plenty of people who are too smart.

Action steps culled from your own painful history can save you from yourself. Not desperation, commitment, enthusiasm, excitement, financial investment, criticism from others, health crises or a buddy. Nothing else lasts. Epiphanies and desperation wear off, health scares fade, diet programs end, staving or super rigid eating plans get old fast, buddies quit.

Even though it’s not just about the tips 🙂 here are just a couple off the top of my head.  No time like the present to start creating that holiday mojo.  As Oprah says, “if not now then when?”:

• Join a CSA (community supported agriculture). It forces your hand to eat veggies and keeps you eating with the rhythm of the seasons as we did for thousands of years. See Strategies for the Vegetable Challenged and for creative ideas on using that sometimes odd assortment of unidentifiable veggies.
• Find something to give out for Halloween that is not your favorite candy. One of my enterprising clients was a big hit giving out tatoos, another gave stickers, another the Roasted Jalapeño Kind bars that she can effectively use in her own food plan. I give out Blow-Pops. Not only would I never want one, but they keep from year to year!
• Call your Aunt Maude now and tell her that while you appreciate that she makes those special cookies for you, you only want/need a few (not four dozen) of them to satisfy your holiday craving.
• Consider other kid friendly holiday activities that are not baking or chocolate making. Last year stencils with Glasswax (from Amazon and reminiscent of my childhood) were a big hit with my great niece and nephew. My sister loved the clean windows!

Through planned action steps taken now, well in advance while you are still willing,  you can save yourself from not only the traditional 5-10 pounds, but possibly weeks of the “screw its” before you cycle around to being ready again.

For tips (which are still not enough!) on how to manage the each holiday, see:

Halloween – Trick Me or Treat Me,

Thanksgiving Self Makeover

Keeping a Grip on Your Skinny Self Through the Holidays. 

What could be one degree of change for you this holiday season?

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