Or put less poetically – ‘Want to know how to Cut the Crap and Lose Fat? You know one of the hardest things I found when starting this journey was how do you break a habit that you’ve practised for so many years? How do you sit down in the evening, finish your dinner and not want to reach for something sweet? How do you go to the cinema and not have popcorn and Pick ‘n’ Mix? How do you get to the end of the work week and be the only one not having a drink?
It’s so engrained in us from an early age; these are actions that we have taken time after time and they become habit, they become a daily routine and part of our lifestyle. Therefore when we think about changing them – or having to change them, it’s extremely difficult because we start to feel deprived. “Why shouldn’t I be able to have desert when everyone else is”? “Why can’t I have a few glasses after work, all my colleagues will think I’m being ridiuclous”? “Well hang on, if they are giving out cookies it would be rude not to take one!”.
When we try to lose fat and change the way our body looks on the outside and in, we ask these sorts of questions at least a dozen times a day. I was never in a position where my health was in trouble or someone would look at me and think ‘she’s overweight’ but I certainly have carried, on a few occasion, excess fat in the realms of anywhere between 4-6 Kilos. It’s fat that didn’t belong there and didn’t need to be there. The thing that got me most was I couldn’t for the life of me work out how to control my cravings, how to control my eating habits and most importantly how to balance it all. I have a mum who STILL looks better in jeans than I do! And a sister that can eat whatever she wants and won’t see an inch put on her waist! But genes are different and once I accepted and understood that I had to treat my body differently, things changed.
There are 3 steps to changing your life. I say life because I believe this applies to everything, not just how to lose fat. It’s a formula I first learnt when listening to a great man my father introduced me to – Antony Robbins. If you have never heard him speak, have a search on You Tube, his story is truly remarkable and his theories, of which are represented in part below, are magical.
Step 1) Association
Association is the key to making changes in your life. There are two types of association that drive our minds to do what we do – positive and negative, or pleasure and pain as Tony calls it. Every day the choices we make are driven by these two factors, will it cause us pain, or will it create pleasure? We are continuously doing subconscious ‘calculations’ in our minds that determine the actions we take. The important thing to know is that pain is a stronger influence, it cancels out the pleasure and therefore in order to do get your body to do something that you may not want to – the pleasure associated with it has to be FAR greater than the pain. Let me give a few example that aren’t related to food choices or health:
– As a kid, you lie to your parents when the pain of them finding out the truth is greater than the pleasure of being honest.
– You decide not to spend £200 on a gift because the pain of parting with that money is greater than the pleasure of giving it.
– You decide to not commit to a relationship with your partner because the pain you have associated with being in a relationship is greater than the pleasure. (A whole other story if anyone needs relationship advice!)
When I say ‘pain’, it’s not the pain you feel when you break your toe but instead it’s a representation of all the negative feelings associated with that action. The relationship one is a classic example, and I hate to be sexist here but found more commonly in men, because they associate so much drama or ‘lack of their own-time’ or arguments with a relationship because that’s all they ever here from their friends who are in one. It’s a whole other problem because we tend to talk about the negatives rather than the positives so it can end up being a downward spiral!
So How Can I Apply this to Fat loss and Food?
Let’s say your top 3 guilty pleasures were crisps, wine and chocolate; all things that you wanted, for whatever personal reasons, to stop eating and having. What you need to do when you’re thinking about digging in to your favourite packet of crisps is not how much pleasure and satisfaction it’s going to bring but how much guilt and upset will follow the next day when your frustrated that you couldn’t ‘stick to it’. The key is to associate so much pain with eating the unhealthy food that it over-rides the pleasure of having it. Another way to look at it is to associate so much pleasure with NOT eating the bad food that we learn to love saying ‘No’! However, because our minds and bodies are driven more strongly by pain, the former is a far more effective way.
How Do I Start?
Write down on a piece of paper all the feelings you feel after eating the very thing you are trying to stop. Maybe it’s disappointment in yourself that you couldn’t stay away? Maybe it’s pain and sadness when you look in the mirror? Maybe it’s embarrassment before you have to go on a beach holiday? Or maybe it’s that you constantly feel run down and ill? I’m not saying people should feel these things just because they eat a packet of crisps… I also occasionally eat crisps! But if you want to make a big change in your life and make it stick – I’m giving you the tools to do this. You must go through the process of writing the feelings down and building up the negative associations with eating the unhealthy food, repeat it in your head, make it a strong bond – it’s building up neural pathways that tell your mind: chocolate = bad feelings (not good ones).
Step 2) Break the Habit
It may not be scientifically proven but it sure works, and has done so for me along with many, many others. I know my current life is one in a warm and sunny climate most of the year and therefore it’s ‘easy’ to get up in the morning and work out right? At least I am told many times a day by my gorgeous and beloved sister! Point is, yes sure it may be easier for me to do a 6am work out when the sun is shining and it’s warm outside but I also lived in the UK for 22 years and I get tired in the mornings too! I remember all too well the evenings I would go to bed DETERMINED to rise and shine early for a morning work out, I then look outside, see the rain and the -2℃ on my phone and can’t bear the thought of the journey in the car to the gym, never mind a run outside!
And what happened? That became a habit. Cold and dark mornings = an extra 30 minutes in bed instead of gym. So how do you change that? Well, you break the habit.
3 is the Magic Number
It takes 3 times to break a habit. 3 of the hardest times; the times when you really don’t feel like going to that morning class, when you really feel like chocolate after dinner or having wine on a Friday with friends.
If you can consistently say no (or yes depending on the question) just 3 times to that one action when it most counts, in a short period of time, you’ll break it. You’ll disturb the routine and pattern that got you there and feel elated that you do in fact have control over your mind and body and how powerful is that? Time must be a consideration because it’s no good breaking the habit once a year over the course of 3 years. It needs to be a decision to start now, that the next 3 times in your life when you are faced with the classic question of ‘should I, should I not’ – you chose the outcome that you promised yourself last week you would.
Don’t think about how you’re going to keep it up over the next year or 5 years, just think about getting to 3. Get to 3 and then think about the rest of it, but by the time you’re there – you’ll already be so much stronger and invested in your goals.
Step 3) Compliment yourself!
This is a cycle of Step 1): What do you associate pain and pleasure with? To get to this stage you have already mastered associating pain to the things you want to avoid but to make that stick – you also need to associate pleasure to doing that, otherwise what’s the point right? Ultimately we all want to feel good.
Start from the word go by complimenting yourself for victories, small or big. If you chose to get up this morning to go to the gym, tell yourself “well done!”. It gives you power over you…over your mind and confidence that you are in control of your actions.
Don’t only use words – use measurements. If t lose fat is your goal, start today and get a tape measure to measure your body – the parts that you personally want to change. Then re-measure after week 1) after week 2) and so on. It is by far the biggest motivation to see change, you can physically write it down and shout it to the world and feel proud because that’s something only you can and have accomplished.
I hope that resonates with you and everyone is able to get one step closer to their goals – whatever they may be.