You’ve tried it before.
I’ve tried it before.
A lot of us tried, and failed often, to make positive changes in our lives. Whether it is losing weight, quitting a damaging vice like drinking, smoking, gambling, eating too much sweets, there are plenty of bad habits we’d like to change as we strive to live a better and healthier life.
Some experience success initially but after a few weeks, months or years, they go back to the same old behaviour that causes them harm, or at least, prevent them from getting better.
I found myself trying to lose weight, succeeding to some extent, gaining weight again, losing weight, and then finally being consistent and keeping the weight off.
So what changed? Was it the decision to stay healthy? Was it the thought of not being able to play with my kids as they get older and my body breaks down? Or did I discover a secret drink that keeps the weight off without doing a single exercise (no I did not)?
Is it possible to just turn on the switch and use your will power to fight weight gain?
The key lies in understanding how our brain and the linked emotions work together.
Let’s face it, we all know that eating vegetables and more fruits are good for us BUT we are never going to eat celery for our midday snack if the emotions attached to celery lead to unpleasant feelings (pain).
On the other hand, we know that we shouldn’t be eating a whole cake but why do we still do it? Because eating cake reminds us of happy feelings (pleasure).
In short, we are not going to do something we don’t like and we will keep doing things we like because it brings us pleasure. I don’t care how strong your will power is, if you keep associating happy feelings to eating cake, you will eat cake regardless of how hard you try to quit.
Human beings have 2 general needs. To gain pleasure and to avoid pain.
These are the two driving forces that influence each decision we make. The key to using these two to your advantage is by using leverage.
Tony Robbins, in his book Awaken the Giant gave 6 steps in order to make a positive change and to keep it that way.
- Determine what you want and determine what is preventing you from having it.
It’s too hard to give up junk food.
I don’t like exercising.
I don’t like creating more time for food preparation and exercising.
Plenty of times, people keep on saying what they don’t want instead of saying what they would like to have. The law of attraction states that what you focus on expands. So if you keep on saying that you don’t want to be fat anymore, guess what you’re attracting?
Ask yourself what you really want.
Do you want a healthy and strong body?
Do you want confidence, strength and energy?
Do you want a better quality of life? Minus the worry that comes with thinking if one day your unhealthy habits will catch up on you.
Be specific in saying what you want. The more clarity you have, the more action you are going to take and the more it will influence the results.
Also, ask yourself why you still haven’t made the change? Again, humans try to avoid pain. A lot of people make the mistake of associating change with pain but the truth is, it causes us more pain staying where we are!
Ask yourself what you want and do it NOW.
2. Get Leverage. Associate massive pain to not changing now and massive pleasure to changing now.
This is key to change.
Why would you want to change?
Most of the people I’ve talked to cited health and family as main reason they want to lose weight and live healthy. What a powerful motivation these are!
By not changing now, they risk their health and their future with their loved ones. Nobody wants to get sick and get their husband, wife or kids to take care of them.
What happens when one gets sick and cannot work? It’s a serious question on how one will take care of their family.
Now let’s reverse it.
Do you remember how strong and how good you felt when you were younger and were in better shape?
Think about how much energy you once had, how much fun it would be for you to play with your kids despite your advancing age.
Imagine how confident you’d be and how good it feels fitting into your old clothes that you haven’t worn in years.
Finding a reason strong enough is your leverage to get you to change. Think of the benefits of change and the pain of not changing it brings on your family is a good motivator.
3. Interrupt the limiting pattern.
You know what you want, you know why you have to change, now you have to change the limiting patterns.
We’ve heard that the definition of insanity is doing the same things over and over again while expecting a different result. The same goes for weight loss. You can’t keep doing only what you want when you want just like before (unless you would like to have more frustration and pain).
Obviously weight loss is a combination of proper nutrition and exercise. Calories in, calories out. That’s the simple math to weight loss and it will stay that way.
I also know that it’s hard to give up on your junk food craving unless there’s a good enough reason to so let’s talk about how these things kill you.
When you eat too much junk food, not only are you ingesting too much sugar, but there is also a good chance you are ingesting gluten dairy and wheat, 3 things that can cause havoc on your immune system.
The following are signs that you have allergies associated with the things listed above.
Digestive issues such as gas, bloating, diarrhea and even constipation.
Keratosis Pilaris, (also known as ‘chicken skin’ on the back of your arms).
Fatigue, brain fog or feeling tired after eating a meal that contains gluten
Diagnosis of an autoimmune disease
Neurologic symptoms such as dizziness or feeling of being off balance
Hormone imbalances such as PMS, PCOS or unexplained infertility
Still not convinced gluten dairy and wheat are not good for you? Try eating nothing but pizza, chocolate, cakes and chips the whole day for a week. All that you can handle. I know this sounds like fun but if by the 3rd day and you’re not feeling sick and weak then I don’t know what to tell you anymore.
Remember, junk food, gluten, dairy and wheat = not good for the body = killing you softly.
4. Create a new, empowering alternative
This is absolutely critical if you want to make long lasting change. To get yourself out of pain and into pleasure, you have to find an alternative that will replace the old habits that bring negative results with a new empowering one.
If you want to lose weight but don’t know how, why not ask those that have done it before you? What have they done to replace their old damaging habits?
When you associate pleasure to exercise and proper nutrition it makes it easier for you to follow through.
The reason most people do not want to exercise is because they think that exercising only leaves them with a sore body (or worse, injuries) and not much results.
Make your workouts enjoyable and there’s a big chance you will stick to it. You don’t have to lift weights if you don’t like it, you can do yoga, you can play sports like football, you can go swimming, go dancing, there are plenty of options out there! If it was fun you would probably continue doing it.
Same thing with your food. Nobody wants to eat chicken breast and egg whites everyday (yuck). Play with your food. In this day and age, there are a lot of information on the internet and Youtube with regards to better food choices that are not only healthy but delicious as well.
You don’t have to eat what you don’t like. You don’t even have to measure what you eat either (I don’t measure anything).
Eating healthy and exercising can be fun and pleasurable especially when you start hearing compliments on how good you look and when you notice how good it feels.
In my case, I found looking at my before and after pictures very satisfying (I have plenty of them, one for each workout program). It’s a different way of tracking my progress but I find it more fulfilling than looking at the weighing scale.
5. Condition the new pattern until it is consistent.
Any pattern of emotion or behaviour that is continually reinforced will become an automatic and conditioned response. Anything we fail to reinforce, dissipates.
Each time you say no to junk food, acknowledge what you just did and pat yourself on the back to reinforce the habit. Don’t wait until you lose weight until you reward yourself!
Imagine hearing nice compliments on how good you look each time you push a plate with food still on it, every time you finish your workout, each time you eat whole food instead of junk.
Buy new clothes and imagine how good you’d look in it, treat yourself to a spa or massage, go on that beach trip you were saving for and think of how good it feels to finally be able to take your shirt off at the beach.
Rewarding yourself for positive change keeps you on track and prevents you from slipping back into your old habits.
6. Test it
Everything I talked about will be put to waste if you don’t take action.
Remember, even the law of attraction has the word ACTION at the end of it.
Don’t wait for the right time. Do it tomorrow. Do it now. There’s no need to wait for the new year or the perfect timing because the perfect time is today! Right after reading this post.
I remember this running joke about gym goers during the new year.
If 100 started working out at the start of the year, that number will drop to 80 on the second week, 40 on the 3rd week and 10 by the time February rolls around (okay the numbers are not totally accurate but you get the point?).
Don’t be part of the statistic! Start following these 6 steps today and you’ll see changes by the time new year rolls around.