I’ve seen a lot of things in my 20+ years as a trainer. This includes things I wish I could unsee, like a male client’s abdominal surgery scar for which he was way too proud to show me.
And I’ve also heard just about every excuse.
From bingeing on cake like a death row inmate… to not doing a single push-up the prior week… and drinking alcohol as if it were the day after prohibition – everyone justifies their actions.
“It was the solar equinox/the weekend/my dog’s birthday!”
On their own, excuses are bad enough because they serve no purpose other than guaranteeing you’ll never reach your goal.
But each True Confession is usually followed by the question, “Why am I not losing weight?”
Let’s file that under one of life’s greatest mysteries.
But although I think I have, I realize I haven’t actually heard it ALL.
Here’s a sampling of three things no one in the history of the world (I’ve done my research!) has ever uttered:
Why? Because broccoli, rice cakes, and working out early in the morning (yes, even with me), are not as much fun or as tasty as the alternatives: ice cream, cake, or… sleep.
But if you’re striving to get fit and maybe lose weight, getting a handle on cravings and not giving in to every whim and offer to skip your workout is crucial to making progress.
Aside from, “HELP ME, PLEASE!” the emails I get most often lament about not being able to stick with a new habit, workout, or way of eating.
“I did this for two weeks, hated it, and quit,” one said recently.
And I get it.
If we were robots, we could flip a switch labeled “kill cravings” and never worry about that chocolate urge again.
Until then, we must deal with our human body parts.
This includes our brain, which is hardwired with habits we don’t even know we’re doing.
Studies show about half of our daily activities consist of things we do as a matter of routine, without thinking about it.
I used to work with a mindset coach (no, not a therapist, although that’s not the worst idea), to help me “train my brain” and my way of thinking so I stay on track with my goals.
Why is this so important?
Because whether you want to climb Mt. Everest, lose 10 lbs, or be able to handle daily activities with less pain, your mindset can make or break you.
In fact, when you’re on track with your goals, you’re happier. When you’re happier, you take better care of yourself. When you take better care of yourself you eat healthier, get more exercise and feel better on all levels.
See a pattern here?
Getting rid of cravings is a huge step towards staying on track. Here are a few tips I’ve learned that can also help you stay the course, which I call the “3-D” approach to overcoming cravings.
You must first decide you’re going to commit to making a change. If you hear yourself saying, “I’ll try it,” you’re not ready. Commit to doing it. Then declare your craving “a thing of the past.”
Maybe you used to eat dessert after every meal. So when you feel a craving coming on, remind yourself eating dessert after dinner is “a thing of the past.” You make much better choices now.
Willpower on its own doesn’t work for one main reason: You’re forced to think of the craving and then purposely choose to ignore it. So it’s still on your mind.
In this step, you don’t ignore it, you simply dismiss the craving. Like holding up your hand to stop traffic, you turn around and “dismiss it.” The craving no longer exists. I did this without knowing what I was doing when I decided to stop eating after 7 p.m. (it’s how I lost over 15 lbs.).
I simply stopped thinking of food and stopped thinking about cravings altogether. I wasn’t ignoring my craving, just taking it completely off the table… which brings me to the third “D.”
Here’s a fun fact: You can’t crave what you’re not thinking about. So by switching your attention to something else (I sipped green tea at night instead of snacking) and focusing on what you need to do next, you move your attention to something that’s not related to the craving.
Lastly, have patience with yourself! (I didn’t include “patience” in the list because it would’ve thrown off my “D” sequence.)
Practicing this series of steps won’t change your thinking overnight. If you have a setback, leave it behind you and get back on track.
Remind yourself you’re taking care of YOU. This involves starting new, better, habits.
Still not convinced? Ask yourself where you’ll be a six months, a year, five years from now, if you don’t start making changes RIGHT NOW.
Not Monday. Not next month. Right now.
Or you won’t do it.
What about you? What craving (start with one) would you like to dissolve? Let me know in the comments section below… I’d love to hear from you!
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Got questions? Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’m happy to respond!
Your Ageless Body Coach,
Linda Melone is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, certified trainer and award-winning health and fitness writer. She specializes in helping women over 50 get in shape and lose weight.