This is still a learning curve for me! “Falling off the wagon” as they would say, every now and then…
Our relationship with food is very complicated. It’s not just biological but psychological too.
How many magazines or newspapers or blogs do you see referencing that 3pm vending machine pilgrimage?? Lots and lots I’m guessing! So how do they know thats the exact time that we are dying for a Mars duo or ‘share’ size Walkers?!
Is it because, biologically, we are programmed to need sustenance at exactly that time every afternoon? Even if the only activity we have undertaken is speedily swiping our finger tips across the keyboard directly in front of us? Or, do we think it is more likely that as a result of millions of pounds of advertising, we ‘freely’ decide to choose a sugar laden snack from the conveniently located machine as a ‘treat’ for all our ‘hard’ work..?
I think we all know the answer, as much as we would prefer to deny it (ALL of us!).
I’m here to tell you, it doesn’t need to be this way.
The last week has been pretty tough for me. I don’t have a particular reason why – I’ve just struggled with that ‘slump’ feeling. You know, lazy, not really pulling your weight in training (when you decide to go!), seeking comfort food. A cyclical behavioural trap! One day of feeling a little rubbish leads to an evening meal of comfort food rather than fuel. The next day you feel sluggish because your body didn’t receive the nutrients it needed, meaning you feel less motivated for training and desperate for your next nutrient deficient, carb rich fix!
That was me on and off this week. It has taken an entire week of wrestling with my old learned behaviours to begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel. But, I do see it.
And that’s the point.
I have written before about the importance of not smashing your phone to pieces just because you dropped it (if you’ve read the blog you’ll understand – if not, read it!). Well, this was me dropping my phone and standing with my foot over the top ready to squash it! My ‘old’ brain telling me to indulge, ‘treat’ myself, I ‘deserve‘ it! And my reconditioned brain trying to call out to my more reasonable and enlightened self, exposing all the holes in the rationalisations my old brain was attempting to make. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t. But that is just life.
You will never be perfect, EVER. Sorry!
You need to create a contingency plan to overcome these learned behaviours when they arise. It sounds complicated, but I promise you, it’s not. It will just be more difficult in the short term than heading to the vending machine for your fix. BUT much easier than tackling obesity, diabetes, heart failure and high cholesterol in future.
1. Write it down!
Writing your feelings and thoughts down helps you to identify your triggers. Events or situations that make you feel like you need to eat unhealthy, nutrient deficient foods. When I say write it down, I mean go away from all of your distractions into another room or the bathroom if you have to, and clear your mind. Think about what has just happened, what you are thinking about might happen or what you need to do, what emotions are you feeling or any physical symptoms? Are you tense? Are you angry, upset, bored? Write anything and everything down. No detail is too small.
2. Challenge yourself
Consider what you are thinking or feeling – is your mind telling you that you need unhealthy food right now?! It’s the only thing that is going to make this better (this being which ever situation you are having trouble dealing with)! Absolutely nothing else is going to fill this void that you’re feeling. Is this true?
No. When people are experiencing negative emotions, they tend to only think of negative possible explanations/outcomes. Shifting your perspective can help you feel better.
Consider for a second what would happen if you didn’t pick up that jammy doughnut.. Can you imagine? Will your mind even allow you to? What would you look like if you decided that from now on you would only eat real, natural foods? Imagine for a second that you did and you had the brightest fresh eyes and the clearest skin and bounds of energy. You could keep up with your kids for once, you would’t be out of breath by walking a couple of paces or climbing the stairs.
3. Get practical
By taking the first step and allowing your mind to consider just one positive outcome of a situation or feeling, you will find soon enough it will start running with these thoughts. Snowballing even! It takes time but you will see that you have more and more positive thoughts and you find it easier to understand that things were positive all along. You were just portraying your negative projections on to neutral situations.
It helps to imagine your best self at the top of a ladder and within each of the rungs is a goal or target that will help you be that person. Start small. Once you achieve one of your small goals it is much easier to move onto one of the bigger ones. And by the time you are on the higher up rungs, the goal won’t even seem that big anymore because all of those small steps have led the way. For example, if your dream is to run a marathon, you will first need to complete a 5K and then a 10K and a half marathon and then possibly a 20 mile race… by the time you’ve achieved these goals it’s only a short stretch to the marathon!
Now for my final tip that will make all of these great steps work for you: DO IT! Stop talking about it and DO IT. Stop making excuses and DO IT!
There are so many of these blogs and books and articles out there. I hear so many people complain that ‘They don’t work for me!’ or ‘They’re just a load of quack stuff’. I promise you it’s not. Do it and then get back to me.