Today I was talking to yet another person who was telling me about how their last diet was going great and then 'suddenly' it stopped working.
We’ve all this story before. As an overeating and weight coach, I hear it all the time.
Around about the end of the story the person telling the story usually says something like “I just fell off the wagon”, like I know the wagon they are talking about and it’s just super easy to fall off it.
The thing is we all do know this wagon and we all fall off it - a lot.
There’s only one problem. There is no wagon to fall off largely because the wagon is a metaphor and we can’t fall off metaphors. So at this point in the story, it’s worth pointing out there’s no actual wagon.
Me: “You do know there’s no wagon,right?”
Him: “So what happened then?”
Me: “Something came up that tested your resolve, that you weren’t prepared for, and you gave into that.”
I explained more. “Basically there was a situation that you had a thought about, which created a feeling, that led to you taking the action of quitting your diet.”
“If you can find the thought and change it, you can stop quitting. It’s that simple.”
He said “So, basically it’s like Cognitive Behaviour Therapy” and I said “Yes. It’s exactly like Cognitive Behaviour Therapy.”
The thing is with cognitive behaviour therapy or any other thought work - If you are not using this, it’s working against you.
If you aren’t aware of the thoughts and feelings that are driving your actions they will be unconsciously driving your life. And in a marketing-saturated culture, this means you will be overeating and drinking.
The choice is whether you choose to be aware or not.
So if you think about the last time you broke a resolution or a food plan. It may feel like it was involuntary but if you take the time to think back to the occasion where you went off plan you can actually map out the thought that led to the feeling which led to the action. Once you have this mapped out you can change the thought.
It’s got four parts ...
So, a typical chain reaction might go like this
Notice how those thoughts feel reasonable but they aren’t aligned with the action you want to take?
Now if you are quick enough to catch the thought you can begin to challenge and change it to something that makes you have the feeling and action you want to have.
Remember the marketing culture is designed to meet our needs with consumption at any point in the day. If we want to push back against always eating or drinking we need to challenge the thoughts that make overeating possible … one by one.
Try identifying the thoughts that come just before overeating and once you have you’ll see that it’s so much easier to stop being controlled by them.
Need help applying this? Book a free session with me and I’ll help you with the thoughts that are driving your overeating. You can stop overeating today. (Remember, there’s no wagon.)
So, Lydia, I hear you say, what do I need to eat to finally, really, truly lose weight for good and keep it off? What is the secret?
That's the question I get all the time - what do I need to eat get to get to goal weight?
And usually, people expect it to be new and, well, different. I've been there. I've eaten all. the. weird. things. I've grapefruit-ed and keto-ed and no-fatted and all-fatted. And I thought they were the answer for the first few days or weeks until I never wanted to see a grapefruit again.
But now after several years of testing, at last, I have the answer. And the surprizing answer is - It's not a diet.
I can tell you in my experience as a marketer, all diets are things that are INVENTED. Sure, some parts of them are based on research but they are all recent developments influenced by marketing culture.
But what works long term is ... [drumroll] what has been derived from hundreds of years of human experience.
And that is meals.
Yup, meals, planned ahead, with some balance of foods, and some level of enjoyment, not bran flakes but not a sensory extravaganza.
You could add some other commonsense things that normal eaters do for extra credit. The book The Rules of “Normal” Eating which explores what normal eaters do. It lays out the four basic rules that "normal" eaters follow instinctively — eating when they're hungry, choosing foods that satisfy them, eating with awareness and enjoyment, and stopping when they're full or satisfied.
This doesn't mean you give up elements of diets that have really worked for you. You can still err on the side of keto, or have a plant-based diet, but to do it long term requires having an approach that works for you that you stick to and refine over time. It cannot feel extreme.
So what is your eating approach going to be?
Challenge: Test out a basic plan for the next 30 days. Invent it yourself, using meals.
But, Lydia, what is a meal?
Have a great week,
Remember, if you need help I offer a free session, so jump on the phone with me. It ’s zero obligation just so you can get to experience the power of coaching first hand. I promise you will get value.
The truth is all diets would work - if we could only stick to them.
So, given this, the problem is always our mindset, not the diet.
So why do we keep trying different diets when that's not the answer?
There's been times when we have had no problem sticking to an eating plan and changing habits but then suddenly we. can't. even.
So, we blame the diet and move on to try to find a better one. But after a million diets that didn't work, it might be useful to look at specifically what happened not with the diet but with our thinking.
One day the diet was working and the next day we couldn't stick to it. We didn't change. The food didn't change.
What changed was that on the day we quit we had a different thought. And not something obvious like "oh hey let's give up on healthy eating for the foreseeable future"- something more subtle and sneaky. Something harmless sounding like 'I deserve a treat, I've been so good'. Sounds reasonable. And then once we've bought that thought it becomes easier to buy another thought..
One of the most sneaky ones is "I just love food". I've had this one and also coached other people. It's culturally accepted as it makes overeating sophisticated and about 'passion' - suddenly it's fiiine to overeat. It's your passion, right? No one should get in the way of your passion!
But it's easy to call BS on this one. WhenI lived in France where they food passionates, I've never seen people be more sparing and moderate. Portion sizes are literally out of the '50s with a serving being a serving spoon size. And if you are indulging with a special meal there's no more quantity, just a slight upgrade in the quality and the amount of time to prepare the dish.
The point is not to feel bad about the amount of food we are eating - no one actually wants to eat a lot of food. When we become aware we can see it's actually just unpleasant. The point is to show how we have been conditioned to think around food that is allowing us to overeat consistently. Once we change the thinking we will change the feelings and actions that follow, and ultimately, our results.
This week take time to notice some of your sneaky food beliefs that are making overeating so appealing to you and keeping you from having the relationship to food you really want. For me, one of the most powerful beliefs I have created is "I'm just not that interested in food." Trust me, that's a long way from where I was a few years ago. But it's a thought that's now let me lose 30kg and keep it off while sticking to a healthy eating plan. It can work for you if you deal with the thinking rather than the diets.
Remember, if you want some accountability and help to apply these strategies and put the overeating struggle behind you I offer a free 45 min consult - zero obligation!
Have a great week,
Hi, I'm Lydia Pattison.