Long-term health goals are tricky and often has more to do with your mindset than anything else. You’re mindset, or how you think and feel about the actions you will take, can either set you up for success or failure. I can sum it up with a sentence. It goes like this: “I have to do _____to lose weight”.
Whenever you “have to” do something it draws up negative energy around the action. When you have negative energy towards an action your brain goes into overdrive to find ways out of it. Think about this in an extreme case. Imagine if I said that bungee jumping would be a great way to lose weight. All you have to do is jump off a bridge. For some of you thrill seekers it may be no big deal, but for most, your brain will find every excuse to get around it.
When you “want to” do something you become excited and look forward to it. The new behavior doesn’t feel like a chore. No negative feelings, just positive feelings. This shift can make or break your weight loss efforts. Look at the following sentences and see the energy difference:
“I have to go on a walk today since it is one of my health goals”
“I can’t wait to get home and go for a walk to relax, get some fresh air and me time”
You can feel the energy difference. Physical fitness is the desired result, but if you don’t want to do the action steps you aren’t going to find much success. Soon obstacles will arise and you will find other things more important and stop taking action all together.
With food it is even worse because you may be trying to let go of food choices and habits that you actually enjoy. This is a recipe for failure. How can you possibly stay motivated to make change when you don’t like the actions and don’t really want to give up your old habits? The trick here is to turn the “have tos” into a “wants”.
First it is important to get clear if this is an issue for you. Here are a few ways to see if you are a victim of the “have to” saboteur.
- When you think about your health goal you feel good about the end result, but when you begin thinking about dietary and exercise changes you get a negative feeling in your stomach. It is loud and clear that the action steps don’t bring you any kind of pleasure.
- When you think about making dietary and exercise changes your mind starts coming up with excuses as to why this won’t work for you. “I don’t have time”, “I don’t know what to do”, “I’ll get started when things calm down” etc.
If you have this saboteur you’re not alone. In my experience most people do. The weight loss industry alone has been built on the idea that you have to deny yourself of foods you love, eat hardly anything, and exercise 2 hours a day 7 days a week. Extremes are tough. A better way is to take a little time to think about small changes you can make that you “want to” make that will lead to a long term change.
By approaching health goals in this manner you will find success because you will develop new enjoyable habits that will help you feel your best. You won’t want to go back to your old habits because you will be enjoying your new habits more.
About the blogger:
Meri Raffetto is the founder of Real Living Nutrition, author, triplet mother and dog butler. Learn more on our team page.