When I ask clients what their biggest frustration is when it comes to losing weight and maintaining weight loss, the most common answer is not being able to stick to a healthy routine. In other words: a lack of self-discipline.
I know exactly what they mean. I've changed many of my bad habits, including smoking, alcohol and junk food, and lost over 40 pounds along the way. But the journey wasn't always easy and it took me years to change some of my behaviors. I'm only human and, even now, my mind still plays tricks on me. There are times I don't want to exercise or I'm sweet treats. The difference is that I've learned how to deal with it.
So here's my step-by-step method for dealing with and overcoming this challenge:
1. Forget willpower.
The first mistake you're making is relying on willpower. When you rely on willpower as the only source of inspiration in your wellness journey, you put an immense amount of pressure on yourself mind, forcing yourself to do something you don't really want to. You may be able to hold out for a while, but ultimately, what you resist will persist. It doesn't go away, no matter how hard you try to push it down.
So let go of the thought that forcing yourself into something is the way to go. Instead ...
2. Understand your deeper "why."
I know from my own experience that the only way to follow through and achieve what you're after is to understand the deep reason behind it; to understand why you're doing something is crucial in any journey.
There are many paths and techniques to uncover your deeper why. My favorite approach is to create a "Pain and Pleasure" list. Take a piece of paper and draw a line down the middle, dividing the paper into two parts. On the left side, write down all the negative things (pain) you'll experience if you don't follow through (being uncomfortable in your body, lacking energy, illness, etc.). On the right side, write down all the positive things (pleasure) that you're going to get if you do follow through (energy and health, feel free and attractive, have the confidence to fully express yourself, etc.).
Once you absorb this information, it works like magic. Your focus changes and your behavior is driven by your bigger why.
3. Focus on the effort, not the result.
You can't directly control how much weight your body will lose, but you can control your actions (what you eat and how you exercise).
Many people get frustrated because they create a goal to lose 20 pounds and don't achieve it as quickly as they wish. Because the scale doesn't show the number they want, they just give up. So don't set an arbitrary goal to lose a certain amount of weight. The exact outcome is beyond your control. Instead, set a goal to always to eat well, to exercise 3-5 times a week, to enjoy your life. Nurture a sense of self-respect to acknowledge and celebrate your effort. The weight will come off eventually.
4. Bounce back.
If you fall off the wagon, don't beat yourself up. In fact, you should congratulate yourself — suffering setbacks is an inevitable part of the process, so you're one step closer to success. Plus, it proves that you're still human. I've yet to meet a human being who behaves perfectly at all times (and hope I never encounter such an unnatural creature)!
It's not about how hard you fall, it's about how quickly you get up. If you experience a setback, make sure you bounce back immediately. The journey to optimum health isn't a ten second sprint ... it's more the voyage of a lifetime!