I have yet to work with a person who doesn’t believe that if they only had more self discipline and willpower they would be weight loss rock stars. Now, if you know me at all, you know that the first thing I do is call BS on the self discline and willpower path to weight loss success. You’ve heard me say that willpower simply doesn’t work – not long term. You’ve seen the research. And you want to know – if self discipline and willpower don’t lead to weight loss success what does?
When I was teaching high school kids a huge amount of professional development time and dollars was spent on strategies for maintaining classroom discipline. Mostly people talked about the day-t0-day nuts and bolts of punishment. What do you do when a kid acts out? Refuses to answer or comply with directions? Picks on another kid? All important questions – but all small parts of a much bigger picture. It was only when we looked at the what happened before the misbehaviour started that actual answers emerged.
So what was the key? Asking the right questions. And then, looking beyond those questions to analyze what really was working. One of the common themes of successful classroom management was consistency. How consistent are your routines? Your expectations? Your reactions? But the killer question was when are you most consistent?
Are you more consistent in thought and action when you’re in a good mood or when you’re in a bad mood?
Most people think they are most consistent when they are happy. When they are in a good mood. Research showed – at least in terms of classroom management – that teachers were most consistent when it came to expectations and discipline when they were in a bad mood. They let fewer things slide. They were more on top of misbehavior and/or the indicators of possible misbehaviour when they were a tad bit cranky. The classroom actually ran smoother for longer. In short, they were more in control more of the time.
What about you? How consistent are you with your weight loss routines? When is it easy to get to the gym (or otherwise move your body)? When is it more difficult? Is it easier to eat healthy when you’re by yourself or when you’re out with friends having a good time? When do you struggle and when do you stick to your plan – and actually enjoy doing it? These are important questions to ask yourself. The answers are keys to what’s working and what might need a little more attention. The answers help you create a plan that will work for you during the tough times – and help you avoid your own trouble zones.
I’m not saying that you need to be in a bad mood to be successful. I am saying is that a little awareness can make all the difference. And once you have that awareness, you can preplan your way out of diffuclties and still preserve your good mood.
So – what are some consistent weight loss stratgies you can start using now?
1. Know what you’re going to eat. One of the most common things I hear from the people I work with are that they eat healthy until they go to a restaurant. Then everything they know about food flies out the window and what was supposed to be a good time becomes stressful and even shameful in the end.
Now – you know that I’m big on eating what you want when you want. I am a firm believer that eating some chocolate cake when you want it is much better than denying it until you’re shame eating it on the floor of your kitchen at 3 am.
But when you really want to make the heathiest choice it’s good to have some tools in your arsenal.
The key to restaurant eating is to know what you’re going to eat before you even get there. This is easier than it sounds because most restaurants have similar menus. So make a plan then stick to the plan. If you don’t have to fret over your food choice you have more time and energy to actually connect with the people you are dining with – which is the whole point of meeting friends for dinner anyway.
2. Make getting to your workout rote. Put your tennis shoes on first thing in the morning (if you work out then) or change into your workout clothes before leaving work. Do it before you have time to think about how you feel or what kind of mood you are in. Do it before resistance kicks in. That doesn’t mean you can’t decide that you reallly need a rest (and maybe a massage) today if that’s the best choice. But it does mean that you are half-way to the workout.
Every Black Belt level martial artist will tell you that the toughest part of earning your black belt is getting off the couch. Set yourself up so that it’s easy to consistently get off of the couch.
3. Ask yourself some questions. When are you most consistent? When are you not consistent? What patterns do you see? Then put strategies and routines in place to shield you during those times when you know you’re not as consistent as you could be. The times when willpower simply doesn’t work to get you where you need to be are the times when routine and prior planning will.
Consistent action gets results. Self discipline and willpower simply don’t. Share what consistent actions work for you in the comments section below. And if you’d like some help looking at your patterns and creating a plan that will work for you, contact me. I’m here to help.