Remember the resolutions you made this year? You swore not to have another cookie and have more self control but – oops! – you slipped after coming home from a bad day at work. You could have sworn those Oreos were calling out your name until you gave in. You also resolved to be more disciplined this year by going to the gym no less than five days a week, but two weeks later told yourself you have no discipline and gave up the gym altogether.
Okay people, it’s clearly time for us to change the way we think about transformation and weight-loss. Maybe it’s time for us to have revolutions instead of quick-fix resolutions that seem to fade before February. A revolution means we are ready for a sweeping change to take over our lives. The key here is for these changes to happen gradually by making small step-by-step adjustments to our habits over time.
My sister recently returned from a week-long silent meditation retreat. She shared with me that a reason she felt the experience was successful and why she enjoyed it more than she had anticipated was because there were no rules. Imagine that! Although the retreat leaders encouraged her to wake up at 5:45 am for meditation she could have just as easily slept in until breakfast. If she had she been told firmly that she had to follow a schedule and wake up at 5:45 am, she probably would have rebelled by sleeping in (I know my sister!). Something about the gentle approach of being given a choice led her to do what was in her best interest and she woke up early every day of the retreat. Because no one was forcing her to do anything, she was able to push herself even harder than she would have. The desire and motivation came from within.
I’m a food coach not a social scientist, but I have a feeling that there is a relationship between a lack of rules and long term weight loss success. Although in everyday life we despise rules, believe me when I tell you that people actually like having food rules. They like to be told by experts from Dr. Oz to Dr. Atkins what they can and cannot eat, or when and how much. In fact, even when they do break a diet by “rebelling” against the rules they don’t blame it on the diet or the expert, they blame themselves. They think they should have been more disciplined or had more self control. It doesn’t even occur to most people the dieting itself is what’s flawed. When we have rules and restrictions, self sabotage and rebellion are just waiting around the corner for us.
Think about what you resolved to change this year. Did you say, “I won’t touch dessert for a whole year” or “No more fried foods for me?” If so, think about how sustainable that thought process was for you in the long run. Rather than refusing dessert entirely for the rest of your life, why not make a revolutionary step and learn how to make healthier desserts with natural sweeteners? Or wouldn’t it be more powerful if you could figure out why you crave sweets in the first place? Is it because you’ve been eating too many salty foods, or because you’re trying to deal with stress through comfort foods?
Instead of “cheating” on your diet by devouring a pint of Haagen Dazs ice cream when no one is looking, I would like you to give yourself permission to eat dessert. Don’t just eat dessert in a corner, or the sugar free, fat free variety (because you won’t actually be satisfied, and will end up wanting a “real” dessert anyway). I’m reminded of the scene with Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally.
First she orders the apple pie a la mode but requests only real whip cream: “If it’s out of a can, then nothing”Then she has a fake orgasm at the diner and a nearby patron, says, “I’ll have what she’s having.”
Why not learn how to savour your dessert by sitting down with a slice of chocolate cake (which I love making with black beans in the batter!) and a glass of milk (or soy/nut milk) and enjoy it slowly by savouring each bite like you were a little kid again enjoying your birthday cake.
By learning how to eat mindfully and slowly, you will learn how to savour your food and actually enjoy it more! Think of it as the difference between eating in hiding or being “out and proud.” Rather than feeling out of control you will start feeling liberated without the rigid rules that set you up for failure.