Habits and plans are different from goals or aspirations, and whether or not you have them (habits and plans) firmly in place has everything to do with the results you’ll create.
For instance, when I became a mother for the first time, I had definite ideas about the kind of parent I wanted to be, but (ha!) I also had blind spots. A part of my picture of “the perfect mom I was going to be” included a list of things I was never going to resort to, do or say. And more than a few times over the years, I found myself in a situation where I felt stuck. I so clearly knew what I didn’t want to do, but I didn’t have a clue what to do or say or be instead. Oops.
Taking control of overeating can be like that too. You’re probably great at drafting a list of all the things you aren’t going to do, foods you shouldn’t have in your kitchen, and temptations you’ll resist. But when push comes to shove (or when the craving gets strong enough), the critical question really is:
What are you going to do instead of turning to food?
And actually, a better question is: what habits can you put into place so that push doesn’t come to shove – what changes can you make in your behaviors and your thinking so that cravings don’t get so strong, you don’t feel so in need of a “comfort food,” or your reward at the end of the day isn’t something you eat?
Peace with food and freedom from overeating are not the result of a list of things you can’t have – that’s deprivation. Real peace with food and freedom from overeating result from new habits, routines, and ways of thinking that deflate the power food has in your life.
Too many women try to change the way they eat without creating new habits and approaches that replace overeating habits.
Years ago, as a new mom, I quickly realized that I needed to experiment with plans for how I was going to face those challenging parenting situations in new ways. And, as we all know, replacing something with a new response, took (and still takes) practice and trial and error.
It’s the same when you begin to create peace with food. You won’t always get it perfect, and you do want to begin with some plans and some new habits to try.
What will you do when you are stressed or anxious?
How will you celebrate or hang out with your friends without feeling like you’ve “blown it”?
What will you do in the situations that triggered overeating in the past?
How will you unwind at the end of the day?
How will you roll through the tough spots, the challenges, and the unexpected situations?
Will you create a life of endlessly “being strong” or will you create strategies that let you stop with just one bite or portion?
The idea that you’ll “be strong” or have tremendous willpower for the rest of your life isn’t likely. But that’s how so many smart women attack their goals. The “just do it” mentality may get you results in the moment, but those results aren’t likely to last.
If you haven’t already, take a moment now to jot down what you think you need to be, do, have, or know to create long-term success and peace with food. Where and when will you want new, better habits? Are there places where the way you think about eating needs to change (even if you’re not sure how that will happen)?
If these questions feel too big, start by making a list of habits that involve food that you’d like to change. Then, instead of deciding to not do these things, brainstorm some ideas about what you could do differently in these specific situations.
What do you know about what you’ll need for the next few steps? The first weeks and months?
How can you create reminders and accountability as you become more comfortable doing this instead of that?
No one’s perfect – so you won’t be either, but step-by-step, replacing the old habits with better ones is the path to long-term results.