A client wrote, “Help me! I thought I was finally getting a handle on my weight issue but the sugar is killing me. I had an awful day. I won’t even tell you what I ate today because it is just so unbelievable. All I will say is that 90% of my food today consisted of sugar! I really, really need some help getting past these cravings. I am no doubt a sugar addict. If I could get past this there is no doubt that I will reach my goal.”
If you see a little of yourself in this message, you’re not alone. Many describe themselves as sugar addicts. They believe if it were only for that one thing, then they could reach their weight loss goals. If you believe only one thing stands in your way of losing weight, consider this: What if that one thing (an addiction to sugar for instance) were gone? Do you really believe, “If I could get past this, there is no doubt that I will reach my goal,” or is it an easy excuse to stay stuck?
If I told you I could show you a way to stop craving sugar, would you want me to show you how?
Think about that for a moment. Close your eyes and really think it through. You’ve said if only you didn’t crave sugar, then you could lose weight, but is that really true for you?
Ask yourself these questions:
- Would you eat differently, and if so how?
- Would you act differently, and if so how?
- What else would change, and what would stay the same?
- What would you lose?
- What would you gain?
Until you know what you want, know you can achieve it, and know what else will change (i.e. how your life may be different), you can’t discover any obstacles that first must be considered. For instance, you may want to stop eating anything after 7 PM yet your husband doesn’t come home from work until 8 and he wants you to join him for dinner. That’s an obstacle.
If you’ve got a habit of watching your favorite TV show with a bowl of ice cream, then breaking that habit is another obstacle.
If you don’t work out ways to overcome your obstacles perhaps through discussion and compromise with your husband, or habit breaking exercises for your ice cream habit, there’s bound to be a problem. Just saying you’re not going to do something any more rarely works. Instead determine what might stand in the way of achieving your goals, find a way around them, and you’re much more likely to actually achieve those goals once and for all.
The statement, “if this one thing were handled, then everything else would fall into place” is an “If Then” statement and gets people into trouble. They want a fairy godmother to make it all better. A strong belief that one single thing such as, “eating sugar is my problem,” sets you up to fail, especially if you really like eating sugary foods.
Getting a handle on your cravings is not an all-or-nothing proposition. You must leave room for occasional deviations. It’s not the occasional side trip that causes weight trouble, it’s the road we usually travel.
Setting a goal is crucial. Lay out a well thought out plan for yourself.
A great guide to setting a goal:
- State what you want (not what you do not want). “I want to weigh 135 pounds.”
- Determine whether you can achieve it (do you believe it is possible?).
- What resources do you have and what do you need (time, money, gear, clothes, equipment, coaching, whatever).
- Check whether anyone else is involved and any potential obstacles that may come up regarding others. Think of everyone involved in your day-to-day life.
- Picture yourself “as if” you’ve obtained what you say you want and see if that picture fits. Do you like what you see?
- Put together a plan of action for the achievement of your goal.
- Eat more slowly
- Replace unhealthy habits with new, healthy ones
- Eat only when you’re truly hungry instead of when you are tired, anxious, or feeling an emotion besides hunger
- Don’t snack when you are bored
- If you do want a snack, go for something healthy. Need crunch? try some veggies!
- Plan meals ahead of time to ensure that you eat a healthy well-balanced meal
While it may seem like a lot of effort simply to decide what you really want, going through these steps at the beginning helps you find potential obstacles which previously stopped you from moving forward. For example, if you decide you want to join a gym and start exercising every day but you’ve forgotten you don’t even own a car and just lost your job, that exercise plan might not work out right now. If you did join a gym, you’d end up not going and then you’d think you’d failed, yet it was the plan that failed, not you. You didn’t think it through.
A better plan in this instance may be doing exercises at home, or within walking distance (or simply walking for exercise). Later, when you do have transportation, you can rethink the plan and perhaps join a gym then. There are always options.
It’s better to look at what you want from every angle, then put together a plan you know can and will work. Then when you know what you want, you’ll also know you can make it happen and begin by taking that first step toward making it a reality.
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