We all set out with the best intentions to finally lose the weight… forever. Our motivation is sky high. We set ourselves up for success; we go to the grocery store, buy all the best foods, clean out our cabinets of half eaten bags and boxes of junk, we set our alarms early for a workout session before work and we even step on the scale to get our starting weight. And let’s be serious, we’re in a confident place when we aren’t even scared to face that starting weight.
But how do our best intentions turn into our biggest failures? Why are we all still trying to lose that last five or ten pounds? Why have we put back on the 30 pounds we lost last year? Why have we worked harder at losing weight than anything else in ours lives? If we put our entire lives into a pie chart of how hard we have worked at getting something we wanted in life, losing weight would fill up 99.9% of that pie… give or take a few hundredths of a percent.
So what happens in between swearing off sugar for the rest of our lives and being knee deep in a whole bag of licorice 48 hours later? It’s our emotional hang ups, the psychological roadblocks that always pop up mere hours into our diets. It truly feels like the only way to avoid these roadblocks is to stay inside with the doors locked until you lose the weight.
Doesn’t it always feel like the day you start a diet your friends plan dinner at your favorite restaurant? Or a co-worker is coming around selling girl scout cookies? Or the worse… the minute you start a diet, you get your period. It actually feels like the universe wants us to fail.
One of my biggest hang ups has also been food in social situations. If I go the movies, I need popcorn. If I go to an Italian restaurant, I need the breadbasket drenched in olive oil. If it’s the morning, I need a hazelnut latte on my way into work. If I grab Mexican with my girlfriends, it’s essential that I play hungry hungry hippos at the table with the chips and salsa and order a frozen margarita – the drink on the menu with the MOST sugar.
I used to think these social settings were my biggest hang ups; obstacles I felt powerless in the face of, and frankly, they were unavoidable.
Here is a list of every thought that went through my head in a recent stare down with a fierce opponent… chips and guacamole.
- The Embarrassment Element – I am on yet ANOTHER diet and frankly I am embarrassed by my inability to lose the weight I have been talking about for so long so If I don’t eat the chips, my friends will know how pathetic I am. So I eat them.
- The Failure Factor – For some reason we all want to hide our diets. There’s a stigma surrounding them because we’ve habitually “failed” in our previous dieting attempts, so in the back of our heads we know we will fail again. So until this one succeeds, it will remain hidden. So I eat the chips.
- Peer Pressure – If I announce I am skipping chips because I want to lose weight we all have that friend or have been that friend who says “you look great, you don’t need to lose weight” Sold. Eating chips.
- The Poor Me Excuse – Why me? Why do I have to live life this way? Why can’t I be like my skinny best friend across the table and eat all the chips and never gain a pound? Screw it, I’m eating the chips.
- The Life’s Too Short Self Talk – Life is way to short to live without chips and guacamole. Why am I depriving myself? Chips eaten.
The truth is these hang ups have nothing to do with the chips. They have nothing to do with the cravings, the love I think I have for the food or the universe spiting me. I have learned that these roadblocks I have put there myself. I placed them there every time I had an emotion in the face of food. I put up the barrier the minute I surrendered to that first chip. The catalyst for that surrender, has everything to do with how I feel.
In order to hang up our hangs ups, we need to address the feeling that precedes the first chip that leads to the second, to the third, to the bottom of the bag. It’s shame, embarrassment and anger at ourselves. The reason we eat the food is because we need to soothe the feelings of anxiety that arise when we feel powerless. When you face that head on, you gain power. These hang ups are simply psychological roadblocks that prevent us from reaching our destination. The power comes when you realize you can take down the roadblocks because you put them up.
Today, let’s hang up our hang ups. Put them in the closet, maybe even donate them with the old clothes you are dropping off this week.
And then… let’s take a new route. A route where roadblocks don’t exist because we don’t put them there. Take the detour through the chips and salsa, take the fork in the road that leads to the popcorn at a movie and make a u-turn when the bread basket is straight ahead. We have the power to reach our destinations when we are in control, it’s a smoother ride.