I used to believe that if I wanted to stop overeating or change my health or my weight, all I had to do was make up my mind to do it. Making up my mind was a simple thing – one decision. I’d clench my fists, screw up my determination and my just-do-it attitude, and off I’d go.
Mind made up.
The problem is, making up my mind this way never produced lasting results – unless you count guilt for having “failed.” Or frustration at finding myself back where I started, and feeling like I needed to make up my mind all over again.
I understand making up my mind very differently these days.
I’ve spent a lot of time making changes, helping other people create successful change, and studying the process.
As much as I wish it were true, change is definitely not a one shot deal.
Change is a process, and ending overeating – for good – requires more than one step.
The good news is that we CAN make up our minds to stop overeating, and when we do it the right way, it works. It’s just that making up your mind is done differently than I used to believe.
How to make up your mind to stop overeating
Making up your mind (effectively) is not a clenched fists, tight-lipped-determination kind of affair.
Making up your mind works when you deliberately, step by step, take control of the make up (the contents) of your mind. When you decide to get deliberate about how you want to use your mind, your thoughts, and how you look at your behavior and the events in your life.
You start really making up your mind when you pay attention to how it is or isn’t supporting your goals with overeating, and reorganizing things accordingly.
We make up our mind to succeed with overeating when we get very intentional about:
The stories we tell ourselves about food and overeating.
Our beliefs about what is required to achieve the changes we want, and our beliefs about our ability to succeed.
Our beliefs about what we’ll have to sacrifice or do without if we want to stop overeating (as well as what we believe we have to gain).
The way we talk to ourselves.
The judgments we make about our behaviors.
Our level of self-kindness and the way we respond to our own needs (both with food and in other ways).
Whether we are willing to even listen long enough to stay in touch with what we need or feel (or whether we’ve been using food to silence our own voice).
We make up our mind to take control of overeating when we fill our mind with strategies, approaches, beliefs, and thoughts that guide, support and allow us to stop overeating.
In other words, we can choose to use our mind in a way that creates success or that sabotages us.
Our thoughts and beliefs can create momentum when they focus us on our progress and our ability to be effective; identifying what works amidst our missteps, and understanding why we have urges to overeat and what we can do to better feed those needs.
Conversely, our mind can rob us of confidence and motivation by endlessly reminding us of the gap between us and our goal, highlighting what hasn’t worked, and drowning us in accusations that lead to self-blame or guilt or shame. We can make up our mind to approach our mission with inspiration or we can create a mission that feels like a too-long, dread-filled, misery-inducing to-do list.
Our thoughts and beliefs can propel us into action (even really tough action), or they can overwhelm us into never even taking the next teeny tiny step.
Our thoughts and beliefs can tell us that next teeny tiny step is way too small and will never get us anywhere, or they can encourage us to measure the progress we make by taking consistent, do-able action over and over and over again.
Our mind can be equipped to let help and support in – or it can help us set a course of isolation and feeling like no one could possibly relate to our situation.
We can make up our mind to help us understand our overeating
We can lean into curiosity and feed ourselves the right questions. We can gift ourselves the time to pay attention to the patterns, our hungers, and the things that have tripped us up in the past.
Or – we can make up our mind to be too busy, too frustrated with ourselves, too overwhelmed to want to stop and pay attention the very things that will help us understand how to succeed.
The make-up of our mind has everything to do with whether we stay locked in ongoing battles with food – or whether we break free.
Making up our mind is not a one-shot decision. Our mind is made up of all the many, many decisions we make in all the many, many moments of our day.
Every moment, every present moment, is an opportunity to choose how we are making up our mind.
This is your present moment. Are you using your mind to understand and to create success with overeating, or to create more weight, more baggage, and more barriers between you and where you want to go?