When you’re out of control with your eating, it feels like you can never make the choices you want.
You promise yourself you’re going to stick to just one slice of cake – but end up eating three. Or you tell yourself you’re only going to buy the healthy foods on your shopping list – only to come home with ice cream, chips, and a six-pack of choc-chip donuts.
It’s frustrating, embarrassing, and you lose trust in yourself and in food.
Is there actually a way that you (yes, you) can make healthy choices that actually stick and move you towards your eating, health, and weight loss goals?
I’m going to show you how.
Why is it so hard to make healthy choices?
Research shows that you make over 200 decisions about food every day. Most of them you’re not even conscious of – you can’t really afford to be. Can you imagine how burnt-out your brain would be if every one of those food decisions had to be consciously thought about?
So, out of necessity, most of your “decisions” are made without you ever actually decide on anything! Obviously, this causes big problems when you are trying to make healthy choices because those subconscious patterns take over and hijack even your best intentions.
What’s more, when you’re used to operating on auto-pilot, making all this stuff conscious seems like an impossible amount of effort. But, luckily, as you practice making better decisions for yourself, it becomes much easier! In fact, if you make your new choices consistently enough, they become as automatic as the behavior you have now.
It’s important for you to know that you won’t ever have total control over your mind, body, biology, or behavior. Some things are biological, like being pre-disposed to loving sugar. Some are mental, like having negative thought patterns about how you ‘deserve’ a treat after a long day. Others are a little less ‘natural’, such as the influences from clever marketing campaigns, or scientifically designed foods that target our ‘bliss points’. So, treat yourself gently and know that ‘good enough’ is perfect.
Is it really possible to change?
I’ve done it. And you can too.
I’ve been on this path for 7 or so years now, and the things today that I count as ‘fails’ pale in comparison to what was just my everyday life 7 years ago.
This is something I try to remind myself when half an 80g bar of dark chocolate with peppermint crunch disappears in a single afternoon (happened yesterday). It used to be a whole, 250g bar of milk chocolate that I didn’t even think twice about until I realized I felt sick and was gaining weight steadily.
I finally started learning (slowly… I wasn’t very fast on the uptake here!) and now try to treat my ‘failures’ not as something to be afraid of or derail me, but as something to learn from.
Example? Yesterday’s ½ a bar of chocolate made my heart race, so in the future, I’ll try to remember it does this and just stick to a couple of squares. So, you know, progress.
With this in mind, you can start to make healthier choices safe in the knowledge that a “failure” is just a learning opportunity.
How to make healthy choices:
1) What do you want to do?
The first step is to decide on where you’re trying to get to with your healthy choices. Do you want to stop eating until you feel sick? To weigh a certain amount? To set a kick-ass and empowered example for your kids?
Knowing where you’re going is absolutely essential – otherwise, your healthy choices are directionless and not anchored to anything that truly matters to you.
I’ve got a whole article + free workbook HERE to walk you through this process.
2) Why do you want that?
Knowing why something is important to you will help you conquer the self-doubts and self-sabotage behaviors that come up.
Answering this question can be painfully confronting – especially if some of your motivations come from wanting to look a certain way or lose weight. Nearly every weight loss client I’ve worked with has told they feel guilty and vain for wanting to lose weight, and say,
“Look, I know it shouldn’t matter, and I should love myself as I am, but… I want to lose weight. I’m sorry if that’s really shallow and vain.”
I get it. And it’s so, so not.
You want to look and feel confident. You want to look on the outside how you feel on the inside. You want to stop feeling judged and like your body is holding you back.
None of that is shallow. Research (still) shows that women are judged on their bodyweight at work – you’re not imagining things. And wanting to change or improve any aspect of yourself doesn’t automatically mean you are lacking in self-love.
So, work out why you want to make healthier choices (use this article to help you come from a positive place) and then use your ‘why’ to motivate you through the tough times.
3) What will happen if you don’t change?
One of your most powerful motivations is fear. It’s going to be hanging around and bugging you anyway, so you may as well use it to your advantage! Grab a pen and paper and write down some thoughts about what will happen in your life and to your dreams if you don’t make positive changes. Where will you be in 6 months? A year? 5 years?
This glimpse into the future can be highly motivating! It helps you make healthy choices by knowing that the long-term alternative is awful.
4) How can you make it as easy, no-brainer, no-willpower as possible?
You now know
- what you want to do,
- why you want to do it,
- and what will happen if you don’t.
Now, the key is to break that down into tiny little healthy choice action steps that are so easy that it takes very little effort to do them.
This sounds harder than it actually is – and I’ve got a free online workshop to help you. Click here to watch it. It’s just over 30 mins and I explain how to make baby-step goals. It’s specifically aimed at emotional eating, but the process works for any type of change you’re trying to make.