Your brain is a powerful tool.
Remember the time you’ve put your “mind to something,” and you accomplished it?
The same goes for weight loss.
Today we are going to talk about how your brain runs on habits that give you unwanted long term results.
Here’s the thing, the diet industry, medical journals, and what “they” recommend is focusing 100% on the object of your desire: FOOD.
It’s no wonder that we believe if we control the food, our problems will go away.
Don’t get me wrong, understanding what food is wholesome/delicious/nutritious is essential, but that’s 25% of the picture.
You can change the food, but if there’s no change from within in YOU, you will always return to the same habits your brain’s wired on.
75% (HABITS around why and how you eat) + 25% (FOOD you consume)= 100% healthiest version of YOU.
Let’s be real: all the habits you have formed serve as a solution and are doing something for you.
So when you are eating outside of being physically hungry: what is food solving for you?
It would be foolish for us to pretend that it’s not fun, tastes good, and or taking you away from something in the moment.
It’s the aftermath, the extra weight that you don’t like.
So why change?
If the habit you are doing brings about unwanted secondary results like your extra weight and not feeling good in your body.
The real problem doesn’t really go away. The stress, anxiety, loneliness, boredom and not feeling good enough…are all still there. The food just distracts you from it.
Wouldn’t it be great to solve your problem without “needing” anything from the outside to make you okay?
So how do you rewire your brain from breaking bad long term results and starting new ones that will work for your overall greater good?
What you need to know:
Your brain has two main parts.
1. Primitive brain (a.k.a. Lower brain, lizard brain) this is the survival brain that we share with all animals.
2. The executive brain (a.k.a Prefrontal cortex, higher self, soul) is what sets you and me apart from animals and makes us humans. It’s the part of you that if I were to ask what you are thinking about, you would be able to observe yourself thinking and tell me. That’s the real you, and this is why the real YOU are not your thoughts.
Every habit starts in the executive brain as you learn something new, and once you get good at it, it gets transferred to your primitive brain, where it goes on automatic. It’s a regular pattern that does something for you in the moment and can become so secondary that it can feel involuntary.
Your PRIMITIVE BRAIN is wired to 1. Seek PLEASURE 2. Avoid PAIN 3. Conserve ENERGY
This worked well when your ancestors were avoiding pain by running away from predators.
However, in 2020, the pain that we are running away from sounds like this:
- Lack of joy
So you run from your modern-day predators towards something that will bring you pleasure.
Say hello to all the false-pleasure A-listers!
- Food (chocolate, dessert, ice-cream, salty, crunchy)
Your brain remembers this because it gets rewarded with all the feel-good neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin when it consumes all the false pleasures s it can feel better in the moment and forget the pain.
Because it wants to conserve energy, it associates triggers for you to remember that thing that makes it feel good, so it doesn’t have to feel uncomfortable with the stress, anxiety, loneliness, and or lack of joy.
Here are some triggers that you may recognize but never realized it’s a trigger because the habit has become so automated, it feels like you act against yourself and go on autopilot:
- uncomfortable feelings like stress, boredom, anxiety, loneliness
- It’s 4 pm: go to the fridge and eat
- The kids are down: time for yourself to relax and eat; this should be fun.
- You’re watching tv: entertain yourself with food, your night won’t be so lonely and boring.
- It’s 9 am, 12 pm, 6m: you’re not hungry but the time of days trigger for you to go eat because it’s the time for those meals.
“When you are looking to the outside to make you okay, you will always need it”
To solve your problem, you need to understand what causes your cravings, urges, desires, stress, and anxiety in the first place and address those.
It all starts from within with YOU.
This is the BEST NEWS! You don’t have to feel that you are at the mercy of food, stress, anxiety, social-media or alcohol.
It all starts with the: THINK> FEEL > ACT cycle.
The actions we take like overeating/stress eating, are driven by a feeling, that originates with a thought that we have.
You repeat that thought/feeling/action enough, and it becomes automated, so you don’t even realize that there’s a thought or a feeling behind it.
Good news! You are the creator of your thinking and feeling.
ACT: EAT when not hungry, stress eat or overeat
FOOD is not the main PROBLEM.
There’s a feeling that’s causing you to reach for food plus a feeling you are avoiding in the moment.
A sentence in your mind started that feeling.
How do we know this?
There are times in the day when you don’t overeat or stress eat.
In other words, how much you consume varies throughout the day.
You feel strong and aren’t “tempted” during parts of your day.
So what causes you to flip the switch for your will-power to go “bye-bye” out the door?
A habit of how you are thinking/feeling/acting that has gone on autopilot.
How did it start? With a thought that came from YOU.
It’s your thinking that creates your feelings of desire/cravings/urges that have you act by getting the food it’s calling for.
Here’s how it plays out.
Your brain recognizes the trigger as we talked about earlier.
The trigger activates thoughts and feelings like these:
- You need it > creates a feeling of craving/urge
- You deserve it; it’s been a long day> creates an entitlement
- These are the few joys you get to have in your stressful day just for you> creates a feeling of need for joy on the outside
- It tastes so good, and you want more> creates a need for pleasure outside of you
The THINK>ACT>FEEL cycle is excellent news! You are not at the mercy of food, where you have come to believe that you have to avoid, stop socializing, or creates your temptation.
You have the free-will to see it at its root cause, and it starts with your very own thinking and feeling.
This is why the very first step is to become aware of where it all stems from and where the real change needs to happen so that you can lose weight for good.
REAL-WORLD APPLICATION when you find yourself wanting to eat:
- Where is the hunger coming from? Is it physical: communicated from your body to your brain that you need energy? Or is it emotional: communicated from your mind with a thought?
- AWARENESS: if the hunger is not physical but emotional, what thoughts are creating it?
- What FEELINGS is your mind creating with it’s thinking?
- ALLOW: can you allow for 30 minutes to sit with the thought(s) and feeling(s) that you created?
- Feelings/Emotions last 90 seconds, and then our minds repeat a thought, so it recreates that feeling again.
- PRACTICE: sitting with your thoughts and feelings and pay attention to how long it lasts.