Let’s face it, right now, many people are feeling the negative effects of weeks of excessive consumption of food and booze and contemplating a strict January diet! During the month of January extreme dieting and detoxes are abound, usually fuelled by a heavy dose of guilt. It’s human nature to want to eat healthier and to eat less after a period of overindulgence, but we know that diets don’t work and particularly January diets – they are absolutely doomed to failure!
You won’t stick to it (think of the diets you have not stuck to before) – and it goes against our inbuilt instincts to restrict our food intake drastically, not to mention that it’s so much harder to eat healthily after our bodies have been overfed with sugar for a consistent period – the body will be craving more and more. Extreme January dieting perpetuates ‘all or nothing’ thinking – we know that life is better with balance, and besides, January can be such a cold, gloomy month, this is not the right time to deprive your body and soul of nutrient rich comfort foods.
If you really must make New Year’s resolutions around food, then make the resolution to use my simple and powerful techniques that will literally reprogram your mind so that you think and feel differently about food and won’t ever have to consider dieting again.
New Year does offer us a great incentive and the motivation to start something new, do something we’ve been putting off, or improve on something we’ve been dabbling with! Before you even set a goal what you need to know is that your ‘incentive’ is the most important thing to consider.
I always find these 2 questions really helpful when helping friends or clients set goals:
What’s the best thing that will happen if you achieve your goal?
What’s the worst thing that will happen if you don’t?
The first one is the easiest one to answer as clearly your goal is going to be something you would like to achieve, so by default it must have benefits. The most revealing information comes from your answer to question 2. Just think about it now, what is the worst thing that will happen if you don’t achieve your goal? If there’s not a definite answer to this then it becomes too easy to give up.
You can stay motivated to give up chocolate/pastries/sugar etc. for a set period of time as long as you know there’s an end to it. But – if you consider you want to create lifelong habits and rituals, it’s vital that you learn to love what you do and the habits you create.
Motivation gets you started – but habits are what keep you going. The chemical formula for motivation is based on producing Dopamine. Every emotion we have has a chemical signature or prescription, and this determines how we think and behave. In order to feel de-motivated, you have to focus on the negative aspects of (for example) going out for a walk in the cold, or not eating that mince pie you really want. When we do that, we activate the pain centres in our brain, and as we are neurologically programmed to avoid pain, there’s no way we do it.
One of the easiest ways to activate the pleasure centres and increase Dopamine production, is to use your imagination and visualise the end result: if you want to eat well 2023 that means not just seeing yourself slimmer; maybe you have been slimmer before through grit, determination and deprivation, which will have created some pretty powerful negative associations with “dieting”. This is the main reason why you have to imagine how you will feel when you have resisted the temptation to overeat and you feel energised and comfortable and satisfied but not feeling sick!
You have to add a compelling emotion to the image to activate your neurology. It also has to be much more than just a certain dress size, for most people that on its own is not a strong enough “why” to generate the motivation required.
So, my challenge to you as you embark on New Year, is to take a few minutes to write a list of 5 reasons why you want to eat well, lose weight, or keep your current healthy weight, and if they are all things you have said before, tear the list up. You need to find what REALLY motivates you, what is the thing that makes your heart sing when you think about it? If you are keeping your eye on your prize – what is the prize?