Change can be emotionally uncomfortable, even when it’s a change we want to make. Sometimes it can be easier to give up and retreat back to our uncomfortable ‘comfort zone’
One of the biggest changes we may have to make is our behaviour around food if we want to lose excess weight for good. We know what we should be doing so why don’t we do it?
Here are seven signs that you may be subconsciously resisting change:
- Avoiding the people you have told about your plans; They now expect something from you and you find yourself avoiding them. They are a reminder that you had committed to doing something different.
- Procrastinating – and justifying your behaviour; When we tell ourselves we’ll do it tomorrow we’re giving in to instant gratification. We convince ourselves we’ll turn over a new leaf tomorrow but all we are doing is resisting change today.
- Telling yourself you don’t deserve it; This is a hard one because it’s emotionally charged. Some of us will use low self esteem as an excuse to avoid change but the reality is that making even a small change can improve how we feel about ourselves.
- Doing something because you think you should; There’s a difference between having a strong internal desire to make a change and paying lip service to it because we think it’s what we should be doing. That’s a message coming from somewhere else rather than our own needs and wants.
- Allowing yourself to be distracted; Does this sound familiar? You start a plan and it’s going well but then you find yourself thinking or doing something else. You become preoccupied with work or spend time on unrelated frivolous things. You tell yourself you don’t have the time. This is classic avoidance and it can be very helpful to explore what it is you are trying to avoid.
- Becoming defensive; It can be very tempting to blame others for our situation. However, to make long lasting positive change in our lives the responsibility lies firmly with us. If you find yourself becoming defensive or feeling persecuted it may be you are not accepting responsibility
- Brain freeze; This can happen when you think about making a change or taking action. Mental blocks are frustrating because it’s hard to know where they are coming from.
Some change is inevitable when managing weight; from the food we eat to how we spend our leisure time.
Change can be exciting or challenging. Do you understand your approach to change? Are you someone who resists change, even when it’s something you tell yourself you want? The answer lies in your personal psychology.
The emotional brain and how it impacts our eating habits
We all need to eat and drink to sustain our bodies but food also has a bigger role. Eating provides more than just sustenance, it can evoke powerful feelings, thoughts and memories.
Most of us have certain foods that give us comfort when we are ill or in need of it. For me, it has always been warm custard. When I think back I realise that this, along with attention, love and cuddles was what my mother gave me when I was ill as a child. Even now as an adult, I will turn to my comfort food when I’ve had a rough day. Take a moment and think about what foods you turn to when you feel the need for comfort.
When we try to understand why our diet sometimes goes wrong or we hear ourselves saying ‘Why did I eat that!’ it could be linked to our emotions. ‘Emotional eating’ is a term that we have all seen and heard about in the media over the last decade but what does it involve?
When I looked further into the emotional side of our brains I came across the term ‘ Amygdala hijack’ which was coined by Daniel Goleman in his 1996 book Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ. He uses the term to describe emotional responses from people which are immediate and overwhelming, and out of context with the actual situation because it has triggered a much more significant emotional threat.
Basically what this comes down to is that a response from the emotional part of our brains makes us pay attention right now, we recognise that this is urgent and we deal with it immediately without stopping to think whether we should do this or not.
So if you have ever found yourself part way through your diet and having eaten foods that you know you shouldn’t have, quickly and without any real thought, it might well be your emotional brain that has decided this for you.
Different personality types will experience this differently and will also handle their response in very different ways.
So what can we do to make sure that this unhelpful pattern of behaviour does not continue? Well, the first step is to recognise when ,where and with whom these events happen. If it has happened once it is likely to happen again. It seems to me the way to start to control this is to recognise it, look at it in detail and prepare your response so you are ready for it when it happens again.
Why can’t I lose weight?
Imagine how many times a day that question is said in somebodies head or out loud around the world everyday. It’s a universal question that concerns a proportion of the human race especially in the West.
Well let’s look at this and see what the common factor here is. We are all human, we all need to eat to live and we all live our lives as we see fit. And there is the difference, everyone sees life and every experience within it through their own lenses. Two people can sit in the same room and describe it differently, two people can look at a menu and choose very different foods but both believe they are eating healthily.
If you take this one step further, we need to look at what it is about an individual’s personality that affects the way they eat, when they eat, what they eat and why they over eat in certain situations.
We all have strengths and weaknesses that are fed by our innate personalities, do you know how yours affects your ability to lose weight and keep it off?
Companies and businesses have known the value of personality profiling for years. They have used it to decide whether somebody is right for a job, or if someone can take on a leadership role. There are parts of our personality that make it easier to work one way rather than another so why not use this information when it comes to dieting and weight management?
I can see little point in restricting a person who is naturally very sociable to a meal replacement diet that means they cannot eat out with their friends. If this was imposed on them, imagine how long it would take for them to break their diet.
If a person naturally likes to know exactly where they are and what is expected of them and they are set on a path with no real boundaries or goals to lose weight, they will surely lose heart and return to their old ways.
In my mind, you cannot expect to succeed if you don’t really know yourself and where your likely pitfalls or triumphs are likely to be.
How many of us really know ourselves and if we asked those around us to describe us, would their evaluation be the same or would we be a little surprised by their response?
Are you brave enough to ask?