Weight loss is not really a complicated task. To do it confidently and successfully though poses a challenge for many. Why is that?
We’re all steeped in a personal milieu of beliefs and habits when it comes to food. What we believe becomes a thought, resulting in a feeling which in turn drives a behaviour which over time becomes a habit.
Our beliefs and habits are greatly influenced by the wider context of family and culture. Think about what you ate as a child or what your family taught you about how to nourish yourself? Also, consider the sheer amount of information we get exposed to about how and what to eat and what kind of person you could be if only you could eat or look this way.
I’ve been fascinated lately by the vastly different belief systems around low carbohydrate diets (more on that later) and I’m particularly struck by the level of emotion the topic seems to ignite in people. You’re either really for it or against it.
My point is this, our beliefs, whether supportive or not, drive behaviours which create habits. We are what we repeatedly do – habits are powerful.
I’m going to write a series of blogs on weight loss that integrates approaches and perspectives from two areas of expertise – life coaching and nutrition. My goal is to help you plot a pathway towards weight loss that works for you.
I’ll try to keep them short and I’ll leave you with things to nibble on, think about, work with, notice and eat!
I am going to stay with the coaching perspective for now – we say we want to lose weight, first of all we need to say it the way we really mean it, we want to lose body fat. We also might want to feel more confident, be kinder towards ourselves, sleep better, increase our energy and have our jeans fit perfectly.
Losing body fat is usually only one part of the picture.
What’s important is that you paint a complete picture or make an extensive list. Losing body fat – what’s important about that for you? What does it really get you? How will you be different when you’ve lost body fat? What will you do differently? Be specific.
Here’s a simple worksheet to help you get started. Focus for now on filling in the right hand column.
In coaching we often talk about the current and future self. The picture you just painted or list you just made – that’s your future self talking. That’s the self you imagine will emerge as you lose body fat.
Your current self, well he or she is here right now wrapped up tightly in your beliefs and habits. Try and notice them or write them down in the left hand column of your worksheet.
Simple beliefs I hear a lot, ‘carbs are bad’, ‘I have a terrible sweet tooth’, ‘I have no will power’. Simple habits are things like not eating breakfast but snacking on biscuits mid morning or not preparing food for the day ahead but grabbing a calorie laden sandwich for lunch.
I’m not saying they are right or wrong, just notice them. Research shows that habits drive around 40% of your daily decisions. When you make a food choice who’s driving, your habitual current self or your imagined future self?
Your current self is much more powerful by the way because he or she is grounded in the present and motivated by what you want right now and not surprisingly, your habits are designed to give you exactly what you want.
It’s not hard to see why nutritional change – moving from current to future self – poses such a challenge? There’s a lot of ‘stuff’ working away underneath the surface. Some of which we are aware of, a lot of which we aren’t.
When I work with clients we delve deeply into areas like these.
The trick is to diligently and persistently focus on your future self. Practice and build the beliefs and habits that will take you where you want to go? Will it take some time and effort – of course it will – it will also take some support which is what Your Nutrition Toolkit provides.
The more you practice these beliefs and habits the stronger your future self gets and in time becomes your new current self.
This is how we change.
About Jillian Mooney
I am a nutritionist and life coach. Together we create strategies that deliver the nutrition outcomes you want while working within your life structure.