I recently had one of those moments when I realized it was all going downhill. This realization came to me as I was downing a bag of jelly beans like no one’s business. I knew it was wrong on so many levels (as I was totally hiding it from my kids. We’ve all done that right?!)
As I’m chomping away on these sugar nuggets I think back over the past week and all the crap that I ate: bread slathered with butter, sea salt chocolate covered caramels, homemade pizza, and glasses upon glasses of wine and oh lord how the list was quickly filling up!
How did this happen? How did I stray so far from center that my diet was leaning all the way towards sugar and crap, and so far away from veggies and protein?
So I put the jellies away (in my belly, let’s be honest), and swore to get back on track.
But how? I felt so far gone, so sluggish, and so large. I was so unhappy with what I was feeling that I knew getting to the root of the problem was my first step. If you’re feeling my struggle then tune in, we’ve got some work to do!
1. We need to face the hard reality.
We’re in this situation completely and utterly because of ourselves. It’s us, not anyone else.
Now I know that seems pretty hard to swallow but honestly, if we’re not looking at ourselves when it comes to finding the culprit, then we’re never going to get very far. We’re in this situation because we’ve placed ourselves smack dab right where we are. Smack. Dab. (Those jelly beans didn’t magically appear in my bag now did they?)
The way we think about life and the way we respond to our circumstances and environment are all up to us. Nobody else tells us HOW to react or HOW to respond. That’s on us.
So when we feel miserable and tell ourselves the only pleasure we can feel now will come from this __________ (fill in the blank: could be jelly beans, chips, soda, wine, chocolate, cake, bowl of pasta, bread, candy. cupcakes, or anything sinfully awesome), then we’re reacting in a way that will not empower us or lighten our load, literally! We’re only adding to it. And we know it. That’s the worst part. WE KNOW IT! And yet we still do it.
So the first way to get ourselves back on track is to say, I own my situation and I’m finally willing to do something about it that empowers me, makes me feel good, and can make me healthier than I ever imagined possible! (Damn straight sister!)
2. Don’t ever use the word willpower again!
We need to strike that word from our vocabulary and never utter it again. Willpower will not save us, make us skinny, stronger or help us to achieve our goals because its power is small, limited, and quite honestly useless. It’s not what’s going to make us finally succeed so we need to dispose of it and stop wasting our energy believing in it. It lures us into thinking that If we can blame willpower, we don’t have to blame ourselves.
Skip the willpower conversation and instead create a plan. A workable plan that’s not filled with eliminating a million foods. That’s not sustainable. Doing too much at once, like eliminating pasta, bread, dairy, sugar, wheat, and alcohol, will not create a lifestyle change but instead create a lifestyle of yo-yo dieting. And we hate yo-yo dieting yo!
Don’t rely on your willpower or use it as a crutch. Instead, rely on your sensibilities and don’t take on too much right out of the gate.
We need to start small and build from there. If you notice that you’re snacking too much (I’m totally guilty of that!), begin by limiting what you allow in your pantry. If heading to Starbucks is your morning ritual and you basically drink sugar with a hint of coffee, change up your order in some way so you’re consuming less crap first thing in the morning.
Start there. Change doesn’t happen overnight, the same way our bad habits didn’t all of a sudden strike down from the heavens and blindside us.
3. Know the triggers.
I’m a big Tony Robbins fan. Like I drink the Kool-aid and he is my jam. One of the things I’ve learned from him is the pleasure/pain relationship and how that shapes our life experiences.
Think of it like this: If something is too painful, we tend to avoid it by opting to do something more pleasurable. So, I’ve had a long day and I’m pretty grumpy, my kids are annoying me and I haven’t a clue as to what I’m making for dinner, it’s almost 5:00 and I’m about to lose it so give me that fkn chocolate bar because I need it, I deserve it, it’s going to make me happy and everything will be ok once I finish eating it. (Pleasure!)
But if I don’t eat this chocolate bar, I’ll be even more upset because it tastes so good and I really, really, really want it. If I don’t have it, how else am I going to treat myself? There is no other treat that I want. I don’t want a bowl of broccoli, or an unsweetened iced tea, or some lemon water. WTF will that do?
It’s more painful right now if I don’t have it, even though I want to be healthier, and more fit, I don’t care right now because this chocolate is going to fulfill a want right now! So, a chocolate bar it is. Now I’ll be happy.
What happens after that chocolate gets consumed in mere nanoseconds?
Rainbows appear and cute little bunnies come to my door? My children ask if they can clean their rooms, do the dishes, and serve me dinner?
All I did was believe that the pleasure of having that chocolate would override the pain of not having that chocolate. Short-term satisfaction vs long-term success. You always lose when you’re looking short-term. All. Ways.
What sucks, even more, is that this kind of thinking is usually all done in a millisecond because it’s habitual. We don’t even realize that conversation is happening, the only thing we see is our fingers feverishly unwrapping that chocolate bar and we instantly feel our brains starting to light up! (Literally.)
Once you begin to notice your pleasure/pain points, or your triggers (long day, didn’t plan dinner, kids are hungry, I’m hangry), you can begin to override old, unhealthy habits with new ones that are more suited to creating a healthier lifestyle. (I need to plan ahead so when dinner comes, I’m cool and in control!)
4. Use the power of imagination.
Why is the power of imagination only used by our little ones? Why, as adults, can we not play with that power? We use the power of cynicism waaaaay more than we do imagination and that just ain’t right my dear.
I love creating the idea of what I want my life to look like, and how I want to feel. But it’s a practice. After having baby number 2 (that’s not his name by the way), I was NOT into exercise (and that’s super hard for a trainer to admit!)
It was not on my radar as I was so consumed with being a mom with little ones, I fell right into the trap of saying to everyone I had no time. (I had a nanny. I had time.) I didn’t see it though.
All I felt was overwhelm, uncertainty, and chaos. I was focusing on the wrong things. I chose to see one side and not the other.
Once I changed the filter, or how I looked at things, then it all began to change. I began to see what was possible, and I let myself create the image of what I wanted to see and feel. I used my powerful imagination to create an imaginary me that was having fun, laughing, exercising and feeling good about herself.
Damn how I wanted that!
What do you want? Imagine what your happy, healthy self looks like. Get your kids crayons out and draw a picture of the new you. Put it up with your kid’s drawings on the fridge. Laugh at it, have fun with it, enjoy the process. And works towards making her real.
I love thinking of how amazing I can feel in a strong body. Creating the imagery and imagining the feelings they would bring go a long way in keeping us motivated and striving to reach our goals. I highly recommend harnessing this power to create an image of yourself and how you want to be in order to create the massive momentum toward the change you want to see in yourself. It’s truly powerful stuff! (And just ask your kid how fun it is!)
5. Become laser-focused.
We all tend to perform better when we keep our attention focused on one thing, and then working toward that one thing only. And it doesn’t have to be major, it’s better if it’s little.
For example, you want to lose 20 pounds. A pretty common goal, and plenty of tools you can use to accomplish that goal: Get a gym membership, hire a personal trainer, join weight watchers, etc. There are a plethora of options from which you can choose.
The tricky thing is, once you decide your path, what are you going to focus on? Because when you narrow down your goals and become so super specific, you have a waaaaaay better chance of succeeding than simply saying “I’m going to join the gym and lose 20 pounds”. I suggest taking a big goal like that and breaking it out into 3 steps. And write down those 3 steps so you can see them and begin to get laser-focused on accomplishing those steps.
So, with your 20 pounds, you can break it down like this. I’m going to join the gym and my 3 steps are this:
- I will take a fitness class offered at the gym at least twice a week. (This way you’ll be getting in a fun workout without having to do any of the thinking, and you will meet plenty of like-minded people!)
- I will ask at the front desk if they have a nutritionist or health coach on board who I can sit with and discuss my eating habits, and maybe get an idea of an area I can work on to lose weight.
- I’m going to measure my waist circumference on day 1, and after following through with this plan for at least one month, I will remeasure my waist, and see how I’m progressing and how I’m feeling. If I can add to it, I most certainly will, and if I haven’t followed through as much as I intended, I will write down why I think that is and create another plan.
Simple. That’s just how I like it, especially when you’re just starting, starting over, or getting back on track.
These 5 ways give us all a starting point from which to leap. I for one am going to pay much more attention to my snacking by keeping it in check. No more quickly grabbing a bag of chips as I cruise down the snack aisle. And I will leave leftovers on my kid’s plates!
Now if you stayed with me through this long post, (thank you for that!), it shows that you’re ready to commit and ready to make some changes. I think one of the most important things you can do right now is to plan it out and take action, right now!
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AM Costanzo is a motivational junkie, loves a-ha moments, and works hard to help women feel strong, powerful and downright fabulous in body and mind!