The Resolution Overeating Hamster Wheel | TMOHP Episode 068

If you’re someone who wants to stop emotional eating, address your binge eating, lose weight, or just stop overeating we need to talk about the New Year’s resolution cycle and how your brain’s thought errors may be keeping you from seeing results.

Human beings are lousy at realistically estimating what’s possible. We tend to overestimate what we can accomplish in the short term and drastically underestimate what we can achieve over longer periods. Throw in a little diet mentality, a dash of perfectionism, and the New Year’s barrage of weight loss marketing, and it can be a recipe for yoyo dieting and weight loss and struggles to change your eating habits that get you nowhere. In this episode I’m sharing how you can avoid this and what it takes to create the long-term peace with food you’re probably craving.

In this episode:

  • Why we cram too much into a day and end up overwhelmed
  • Our tendency to overdo and how it creates vicious cycles with overeating, binge eating, and emotional eating (and weight)
  • How to avoid thought errors that keep us from achieving long-term results and happiness with our eating and our weight

Featured on the show:

  • Not sure why you’re overeating, or what your Hidden Hungers are? Take the free Hidden Hungers Quiz
  • Your Missing Peace  is the program for women ready to stop overeating and emotional eating for good. Enrollment is open and NOW is the perfect time to join us! Go here to learn more
  • Private Coaching. One-on-one coaching is for you if you’re looking for something completely individualized and specific to your situation. Openings are limited. Learn more here.

Episode Transcript

Hey everybody, welcome back or welcome if you're a new listener to the podcast. Today I want to talk about resolutions. Resolutions, like New Year's resolutions or resolutions that you make any time of year, really. But I want to talk about resolutions versus long-term results, and I want to specifically talk about why resolutions can create vicious cycles, ongoing patterns that take you nowhere, hamster wheels with overeating. 

So let's start with a fact, and the fact is this, actually, I have two facts for you. Human beings overestimate what can be accomplished in the short term. We overestimate what can be accomplished in the short term, and we underestimate what we can accomplish in the long term.

Now, if you want any evidence for that first part about overestimating in the short term, just look at your to-do list. Right? I bet you are absolutely skilled at creating a to-do list that is way longer than the time that you have to accomplish the things on it. Which leads to a pattern of feeling like you're always behind, like you haven't done enough, like you are never finished. 

How many times has somebody asked you to identify what your priority action items are for the day and you end up with so many of them that they are no longer even priorities. We overestimate what we can accomplish in the short term. 

By contrast, human beings are really lousy at getting a grasp on what can be accomplished in a longer term. In the big picture. And if you want something to relate to along these lines, just think about, it's January when I'm recording this podcast episode, so it's the beginning of the year. Think about last year, or better yet, pull out a calendar or your schedule or your planner from the previous year and flip through it. Take a look at what happened last January and February and March. And, if you are like most human beings, you are going to have some experiences of, wow, that all happened this year? That was just a year ago? I hadn't realized all that happened in a year. 

You can do the same thing by reviewing, current events. What are all the things that happened in the last year? We are really bad at estimating what 12 months or even six months looks like and what is possible during that time.

And when you combine those two errors, being lousy at making good estimates of what we can accomplish in the short term and packing way too much in there. And then not seeing the full possibility in the long term, human beings can create problems and patterns and even vicious cycles for themselves. And this is especially relevant when it comes to talking about making changes with food, with your eating, with overeating, and with your weight. 

So let's start with the first error that overestimating what is possible in the short term. And I want to add that there's a related piece of that because I believe that not only do human beings overestimate what we can do in the short term, we tend to overestimate what is required in the short term in order to get to that longer term solution or goal or place that we're aiming at. And so what does that look like? It looks like, if we go back to this idea of resolutions, it looks like setting resolutions that have unrealistic expectations or an unrealistic time crunched kind of timeline. It looks like setting expectations that are shorter term and that aren't sustainable. We need to do all these things. We need to take all these actions. It looks like creating a set of expectations or resolutions that are not realistic or sustainable or even enjoyable given your schedule or your style or your preferences.

The act of doing, creating a set of actions that we're going to take, it feels productive. But when we combine this with an inability to be realistic about what we can do in the short term, what we can actually complete in a day or a week, or consistently over a month. What happens is you end up with plans and resolutions that are built on plans that have more doing than necessary in them.

I'm going to say that again. Because human beings tend to be doing focused, focused on behaviors and taking action. And because we are lousy at estimating what is realistic in the short term. It is so easy, we actually have a tendency to set resolutions and to develop plans that have too much doing in them. More action than is actually sustainable. And that gets reinforced by the fact that doing the fact that we are doing something, the fact that we have a plan that is full of this dramatic action feels productive.

Here is something that is so, so important to know and to remind yourself, to remember and to repeat, to have on repeat, especially during the time of year of New Year's, new Year's resolution and weight loss marketing on steroids and, and all the influence that you have coming at you. That you should be doing something, that you should be doing something quickly, that you should be packing action into the short term. Here's the deal. 

So much of the time, massive, massive results are actually built on doing less. And they're built less on doing than on taking that problem, let's talk about overeating or emotional eating or bingeing and reframing the problem. Taking the problem and getting clear, getting a clear understanding on of why the problem exists in the first place.

You can take massive unsustainable action to stop overeating. To stop bingeing at night. To radically overhaul the way that you are eating. Or you can reframe the problem. You can start looking at the problem as, as being, why do I want to overeat? Why am I triggered in this way? Why am I having these cravings? And then addressing the reason. The reason that you have habits with food and with eating that aren't working for you. That you don't want to have.

I want to say this again because it's so important. So much of the time, massive results are built less on doing than on reframing the problem. On getting a clear understanding of why the problem, in this case, overeating or emotional eating or bingeing, getting clear on why that problem exists, and then addressing that why. Addressing the reason. So that you don't need the habits anymore. 

So what does this look like? It looks like instead of setting a resolution, that you are going to lose X amount of pounds, or you are going to eliminate a certain food group from your diet. You're going to get clear on why you're eating at night. You're going to get clear on why you're craving sugar in the afternoon. You're going to start learning about how you can lose the urge to stress eat. So that you don't have to fight with it every single day. Or every single stressful vacation. Or every single last week of the quarter. 

If you are a regular listener of this podcast, you are going to hear me say this over and over again because it bears, it bears incessant, repeating. Addressing the reason that you have habits with food that aren't working for you, is the place to start. Because when you address the reason, when you get clear on the reason and you address it, it is easy to abandon the eating behavior, the overeating, the bingeing, the stress eating, because you don't need it anymore. Because you've taken care of the reason you have addressed the Hidden hungers.

And if you haven't taken the Hidden Hungers quiz, this is a great time to remind you that it lives on my website TooMuchOnHerPlate.com. If you go take the quiz, it will help you get clear on what your hidden hungers are. And I'll give you some resources for the best place to start. 

It is not always about doing, and it is not almost ever about starting with changing your food. It's about reframing the problem so you can really solve whatever your particular overeating situation or problem is. 

So your brain wants to do, do do. Your brain wants to jump into action and your brain wants to pack more of that action into the short term than is really sustainable. And you're going to be so much more successful if you stop looking at this as a, I eat too much food problem and you reframe the issue into why is it that I'm doing this eating that isn't making me happy? That isn't a habit that I want to continue? Right? And then you address the reason. 

The second piece or the third piece, I, I've lost count here, but the, the, the next piece to pay attention to is choosing a path and a pace to changing your eating that's a good fit for you. Instead of plugging yourself into a plan that is designed to use willpower and self-control and to create short-term results at best. And then leave you with no plan and no habits that fit you for the long term. 

Your brain, which is a human brain, may be no good at really estimating what is possible in the big picture. But don't let that deter you from paying attention to the ideas that you have about what that big picture wants to look like. Right? So don't be afraid to make changes with food that create and allow for enjoyment and real nourishment and ease and calm. Remember, your brain is going to be saying, got to take action now. Got to do these fast things. Got to get these fast results. But that is not going to line you up, that's not going to align you to create the long term kind of results that you're really going to value.

So avoid jumping into frantic, quick, unsustainable action. Reframe the problem into, into looking for the reason why. Why do you have this problem? Why do you have this relationship with food that doesn't work for you in the first place? Start to solve for that problem, in a way that does feel sustainable by choosing a path that is a fit for you. By choosing choices with food, making choices with food, learning how to relate to food in a way that feels good. In a way that you get to maximally enjoy the food that you're eating. And feel nourished and energized instead of deprived and hungry and like you're living on fumes and willpower.

And then another important piece, a really big piece of creating the kind of results that most of my clients tell me they're wanting. Is to begin, not with the food. But with addressing the thoughts and the beliefs that may have led eating to be your go-to habit. What are the thoughts and the beliefs that are keeping you stuck in this loop with food? And then as you identify them. Either doing this on your own or getting help in replacing those thoughts and beliefs and retraining your brain with thoughts and habits that build strength and confidence and that put you in charge. So that you can end these habits of always feeling like you have to be in control of your relationship with food. Like you always have to be on top of a struggle. And so you can dissolve the struggle. So there isn't a struggle with food anymore. That is possible when you ditch the short term. Got to do, do, do a bunch of things really fast. And you focus on what is really possible in the long term. 

So let's talk a little bit about resolutions and vicious cycles with food and overeating and yo-yo dieting and weight. So overdoing, which is what we are primed to do in the short term. Right? We're primed to pack too much into a short period of time. Overdoing in the short term might feel good. It feels dramatic. It feels like you're really doing something. It feels like you're really taking action. And so on day one, that may create a sense of effectiveness.

The important thing to remember before you even get to day one is, usually these short term action packed plans aren't sustainable. And because they're not sustainable, they lead to crashing and burning. And when you combine this kind of planning, this kind of resolution setting with perfectionism, which again, hello very human, when you combine it with perfectionism, the perfectionism that is also baked into diet mentality, then it can become a cycle of endlessly starting with a lot of energy, crashing and burning, blaming yourself, feeling like you failed, feeling like the answer is to get in there and try harder again... and creating a hamster wheel or a rollercoaster or whatever you want to call, you know, whatever metaphor you want to choose. That you can't get off of. A vicious cycle with food and weight and eating and trying to make changes in a way that isn't sustainable and frankly just doesn't feel good.

I hate to say it, but this is the New Year's resolution cycle. Overdoing, which leads to cycles of starting a plan to change your eating or your weight in a way that you can't sustain. Predictably, then not sustaining it. Blaming yourself because of that human thought error that we all have of overestimating, overestimating what should be possible. Right? Telling yourself this should have been possible, so it's all your fault and you just need to try again. And then diving in or starting over again and again, and getting nowhere. The New Year's resolution cycle. 

Okay but, here's the second part of this podcast episode. Let's go back to that second part of the thought error that I shared with you in the beginning. We human beings underestimate what's possible in the long term. We get so wrapped up in endless short-term weight loss sprints and clean eating challenges. And we miss the opportunity to create peaceful, long-term freedom from overeating. By doing reasonable things, by taking doable systematic steps, by changing our habits and our thoughts and our beliefs more slowly and over time. But changing them so that by changing the thoughts and the habits and the beliefs, much of the eating problem takes care of itself. Because we've addressed the reason that we had the craving or the urges or the desire to reach for food in the first place. 

It's so important to keep these two thought errors in mind and to understand that they work hand in hand. Because as you do these things, as you work toward the big picture, the picture that is really about freedom and peace, instead of always being in a, in a struggle or a battle with weight loss and deprivation mentality. As you work towards those bigger goals, your short-term results-oriented brain is going to tell you that these steps aren't enough that they aren't effective. That you may be making some nice changes in your life, but you're not really addressing food and weight and eating. This is a lie. 

I cannot tell you how many clients of mine have been absolutely startled to realize results that have snuck up on them. Things like, I'm not bingeing anymore. I just realized I don't snack at night anymore. I don't wander into the kitchen before bed. Or I can't remember the last time I even went through the drive-through. These results sneak up on you when you aren't spending all your time trying to control for these results. Because when you tackle overeating with a long view, when you build a foundation that is meant to last when you tackle the reason that food has the power over you in the first place. You take your power back. And when you do these things, the overeating habits, they fall away. 

Diet mentality blinds us by keeping us trapped in short-term thinking. Short-term thinking and short-term resolutions will not give you the results that you want and the results that you deserve. And that is why I am absolutely adamant with my clients that we need to break the patterns. We need to step into those bigger results. The long-term results that seem so much farther away than they really actually are. 

With my clients, I take a stand for that long view. The one that your brain isn't really able to absorb and see, and that seems so much farther away than it is. Because it is so important to create the kind of big picture, long-term results that you really want.

I don't ask my clients to set resolutions, but I do ask my clients whether they're one-to-one clients or participants in my Missing Piece program. I do ask them to commit to a series of months of working together. And we don't start with a focus on what to eat or how much to eat or food at all. We start with building the foundation. The foundation that gives you your power back. And you can do this, too. 

Overdoing isn't the answer. Figuring out why you have an unhappy relationship with food, one that's creating outcomes you don't like is so much more effective than any food plan or short-term diet or gimmicky weight loss thing that you may be seeing in the next few days or weeks or months.

When you sidestep the short term thought error. When you reframe the problem from, oh, I'm eating too much to, I really need to understand the reason that I am turning to food. I need to understand the reason that I'm overeating so I can eliminate it. When you solve for this problem, the why behind your overeating, you're golden. Forget the gimmicks, forget the short-term hacks. The, the solutions in air quotes that actually are short-term unsustainable and leave you feeling hungry and deprived. 

That long-term goal of peace and freedom is so much more attainable than your mind wants you to believe. So much happened in the last 12 months. So much happened in the world. So much happened in your life. So much can happen in the next 12 months. In the next six months in your relationship with food.

Give yourself the gift of stepping off the resolution hamster wheel. What do you know about the reason you overeat? Start there. Take the small steps. Build the foundation. Know that they will accumulate into results that are bigger than your brain can absorb.

And if you want help with this process, if you want coaching, if you want the steps, if you want the training, then definitely check out the Missing Peace program. This is what we do there. The doors are open, and I would love to have you join us.

I'll talk to you soon.

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Your Missing Peace is the psychologist-designed program that provides the tools, the support, the coaching, and the confidence to create freedom from emotional eating and overeating. Finally - emotional eating help done right! Your Missing Peace is specifically designed for smart, high-achieving women who are DONE with diets, who want a lasting solution, and who are ready to take their power back from food, from overeating, and the scale. 

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