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Are Too Many Decisions Killing Your Diet?

Tell me if this sounds familiar. You start a weight loss program, set up your diet and tell yourself…THIS time you’ll have the willpower to make it happen! Then only after a few days you find yourself backsliding into¬†old habits and¬†just like that the wheels start coming off.

Maybe it was those Ruffles potato chips that were just too hard to resist when you looked in the cupboard after a stressful day at work.  

Maybe it was that chocolate ice cream bar in the freezer that serenaded you off the couch after dinner when you felt a sugar craving coming on.

Hey look, you can fill in the blank with whatever food it is that pulls you in. Chocolate, ice cream, potato chips, cookies, whatever…they’re all very powerful triggers.

If you¬†leave them hanging around¬†you’ll undoubtedly find yourself doing a Michael Corleone impression standing in your¬†pajamas in front of the¬†fridge¬†saying, “Just when I thought I was out they pull me back in!”

The point is if you’re going to the cupboard or fridge and have to make a decision between eating junk and not eating junk you can forget about willpower….chances are you’re going to make a¬†BAD decision.

The reason is because the “triggers” from these foods are too strong¬†since they signal pleasure to your brain.

Have you ever been tempted looking at a bag of celery? Me neither and it’s easy to understand why.

People ask me all the time, “Shane, how do you keep from eating <fill in the blank>?”

Like I have some super human discipline and willpower. The truth is I’m far from perfect with my diet but I do pretty good most of the time during the week for TWO simple reasons.

#1. I practice routines and know pretty much what I’m going to eat every day.

I don’t make decisions with my mid-morning snack for example because¬†the decision has¬†already been made for me. I’ve¬†been in the¬†habit of making up¬†two protein shakes in the morning and taking them with me in a little cooler to work¬†for as long as I can remember.

It’s habit and nothing works better because I’m not thinking¬†about it.¬†I’m not tempted to eat the “Cheetos” from the vending machine because it’s not¬†part of my routine. It takes me thirty seconds max to drink a protein shake¬†so I’m never “too busy” to get it in either.¬†

Just FYI it’s one¬†of my biggest pet peeves when I hear….”But Shane, I’m too busy to eat.” Waaa..waaa. You don’t have thirty seconds? Wow, you must be a really important person!

Do¬†you occassionaly¬†take a restroom break or does “Mr. Important” wear a catheter bag because he’s so busy?

Sorry, where did I go? I’m back again…every now and then I drift off with a little rant.

On to the second reason shall we…

#2. I don’t keep junk in the house

Ah, here’s a noble idea. If you have issues eating Klondikes after dinner how bout not buying them anymore?

If they’re NOT there you can’t eat them…pretty simple.

I only keep things like nuts, seeds, trail mix, etc in my cupboards so when it’s after dinner and I’m tempted to snack (yes, I’m human too) there’s not much of a decision to make.

If I eat something I know for SURE it won’t be junk, because there’s no junk to be found!

Ok, invariably the first thing I hear people say when I teach this is…

“But Shane, my husband (or whoever- fill in the blank) likes to eat such and such so¬†it’s always in the house.”

Alright let’s get¬†down to¬†brass tacks and not tippy toe around this.

You’ve got two choices….do or don’t. First thing¬†I would do is sit down and have a talk with your significant other about what you’re doing and why it’s important to you. Be sincere and tell him/her that it’s just too difficult to try and use willpower to avoid these foods.

Encourage him/her to take the journey with you and the two of you can improve your health and lives together…here’s a great idea.

If they’re not interested ask them to simply¬†help you out¬†by going without the junk in the house¬†for 30 days while you establish new habits. Once you start feeling really good (associating good¬†food¬†with feeling good) you’ll be¬†far more likely to pass on the junk.

You just need 30 days to break old habits,¬†start new ones, and create new associations with food. If you’re sincere and¬†heartfelt with your request and they won’t do this for you for a¬†mere¬†30 days out of love, then I’m sorry but this person is incredibly selfish.

If that’s the case¬†don’t ask me what to do next as I’m no “Ann Landers” and¬†my advice¬†won’t be politically correct. ¬†¬†

You’ll always get better results leading by example and setting a positive tone but don’t you EVER let negative people keep you in their lowly web.

If you weren’t able to get the junk out of the house, do things like putting pictures of yourself up on the fridge and pantry door. No, not your glamour shots either silly…you know I’m talking about those embarrassing¬†pictures that reveal the body you’re not happy with.

You need to “remember the pain” every time you go to the fridge or cupboard. This will have a powerful effect trust¬†me. It all comes down to associations and subconscious thoughts.

Until you get to a point to where you DON’T want to eat junk because of how it will make you feel it’s hard to resist unless you can associate it with some pain.

The¬†freedom comes when you eat good¬†foods because you like how¬†it makes you feel…but if you don’t know what “good” feels like what can you expect?

You see where I’m going with this. Give yourself 30 days and go all out. Do whatever it is you need to do to¬†create the right environment, new habits, and a support network around you.

This is one of the benefits of working¬†with a personal trainer. Not¬†trying to make this into a sales pitch but it’s true. The real benefit of a personal trainer is¬†accountability and having someone that will make¬†you do the stuff you won’t do¬†on your own. ¬†¬†

Oh, and before I forget let me spend all of 5 seconds on the argument that “my kids like such and such (insert crap junk food of choice).”

Oh so now it’s your responsibility to feed your children junk, really? And what a terrible parent you would be if you didn’t purchase poison to feed your family.

Give me a break. Believe me if you stopped buying little Johnnie his favorite Hostess cup cakes (that you end up eating half of anyways) he’ll survive….in fact he’ll likely THRIVE!

If there’s only good stuff in the fridge and cupboards guess what he’ll eat when he’s hungry? The good stuff or nothing…hunger can do some powerful things with getting children to try¬†healthy foods.

Look I’m not trying to be the “Food Gestapo” but I just want you to think about the rationalization of the excuses we give ourselves on why we can’t just put healthy foods in the cupboards and fridge for ourselves and our families.

Little Johnnie will certainly be exposed to crap outside the four walls of your home and that’s ok, let’s not live in fantasy land.

But let’s¬†assert some control over what you have control of.¬†¬†You’re not doing yourself¬†or your family¬†any favors by loading up on Doritios, Pop-Tarts, and ice cream bars.

Dare to be the family that’s¬†different…the one that doesn’t willingly poison themselves¬†and their children¬†just because “that’s what everybody else does.”

Alright,¬†that’s about it for¬†today…Gotta go get¬†some work done. Hope you enjoyed the post. If you’ve got¬†anything you’d like to add¬†please¬†leave¬†your comments below.¬†Would love to hear from you…Talk¬†soon- Shane

Shane Doll is a certified Charleston personal trainer, fat loss expert, speaker, and founder of Shaping Concepts Personal Training Studios. You can receive a FREE no-obligations trial of his Charleston personal training programs and experience the Shaping Concepts difference for yourself.  

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Category: Shane's Commentary.