Linda Melone
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 3 Ways to crush cravings – without willpower

I’ve heard and 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.

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 a holiday/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:

  1. Once I start eating broccoli I can’t stop until I finish the whole bag!”
  2. That plain rice cake was a great substitute for the chocolate mousse cake I craved.”
  3. I’m so happy to see you!” (for a 6 a.m. workout)

Yup, never.

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.

Apparently.

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. 

So, in the meantime, 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.

I’ve talked about this in the past, where research has shown about half of our daily activities consist of things we do as a matter of routine, without thinking about it.

I recently started working 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 makes or breaks 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.

D #1: DECLARE

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.

D #2: DISMISS

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.”

D #3: DIVERT   

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.

Start today!

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!

Other posts you may enjoy:

The secret to creating lifelong habits no one tells you

7 Ways to get started when you have a long way to go

3 Underrated, undervalued and unavoidable keys to reaching your goals

Got questions? Send me an email at linda@lindamelone.com and I’m happy to respond!

Your Ageless Body Coach,

 

 

About the Author Linda Melone

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.

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Leave a Comment:

Susie says

Great article Linda, I love the fact that you say it how it is, sometimes you just have to say no and suck it up with the cravings. I’ve also been drinking red tea before bed lately and I feel like it’s been working miracles for the next morning – I never get hungry in the mornings any more. This review sold me on it but let me know what you think https://spiritshealthy.com/

Reply
    Linda Melone says

    Thanks, Susie! I am very familiar with rooibos and have written several articles on it. I haven’t heard of it having weight loss properties, but if it works for you, that’s great!

    Reply
Kat says

The one thing I need to work on is craving sweets in the late afternoon.

Reply
    Linda Melone says

    If you’re genuinely hungry (not just bored :)), eat something healthy. To go for more than 3-4 hours without eating and not expect to be hungry is not realistic, IMO… like between lunch and dinner. Have something to eat, but make it nutritious. A yogurt, fruit with a piece of cheese, peanut butter on a whole-grain slice of bread, etc.

    Reply
Dvdduplicatorrental says

Linda Melone, thanks! And thanks for sharing your great posts every week!

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