Learning to consistently make healthy food choices is not easy. Long-lasting behavior change only comes to those who persist in the face of repeated failure—and who have a bounty of helpful tools and techniques at their disposal. Well, that is, if they have those tools and USE them. Yes, dear reader, all the strategies I highlight in these blog posts must be utilized regularly if they are to pay off in the form of life-long weight loss and healthy eating.
One of my go-to methods for enhancing willpower and over-all stick-to-it-iveness is savoring my successes. I have gotten so good at this that I now enjoy savoring the success of resisting a triple-chocolate-cake yen more than the cake itself! You read it right—NOT caving into a craving has become more rewarding than fulfilling the desire. How did I do that? Allow me to explicate by way of anecdote.
Yesterday morning I was at the gym sweating out my last few adductor squeezes when I overheard the woman next to me remark sarcastically, “Wow, ten minutes on the recumbent. That’s really super!” She rolled her eyes as her personal trainer half-heartedly offered encouragement, but all she could tell herself was that she didn’t want to be at the gym, and that her short workout didn’t amount to a hill o’ beans anyway.
I wanted to tell her, “That ten minutes means a hell of a lot. Why? Because you did what you said you were gonna do by following your workout plan–you followed through on your goal! You deserve lots of credit.” You see, in meeting her goal, she began building discipline and a belief that she has the ability to follow through–that she could stick to her plan even when she didn’t want to.
I wanted her to tell herself, “Wow, I did it! I didn’t want to come, but I did and I completed my workout. Good for me!” Some people don’t see why they deserve credit for such “small” accomplishments. But I say, why not congratulate yourself? After some practice, you’ll really start to feel worth congratulating. And really, this moment of self-congratulation will, over time, start to be as reinforcing as that triple-cheese deep-dish pizza once was. Go ahead, pick out a few activities you did today that are in alignment with your goals, and give yourself some gratitude. Notice how good it feels to accomplish activities that enhance your well-being. If it doesn’t feel good yet (it may even feel awkward), remind yourself of your reasons for participating in the activity in the first place. For instance, “I’m glad I completed my workout because I want to be able to play with my grand children.” The more you guide your mind into helpful, supportive thoughts—ones that move you towards your goal—the easier it will be for you to behave in accordance with that goal.
The Main Point: Imagine how you might praise a child for “good” behavior, and then do that for yourself every time you do what you said you were gonna do.
Yay, me! I completed and published another blog post!