I tried for over a decade to lose my baby weight through dieting. I’d lose some and then gain some and then lose some and then gain some more. Think about that…..10 freakin’ years of repeating the same behavior and getting the same results. I would start a diet and lord I would be committed, until I wasn’t. Every time I’d quit, I’d wonder why I couldn’t stay on the plan. Sure, there were lots of diets I tried that no one could stick to – I’m talking to you, you color coded boxes holding 3 peas and a piece of carrot- but there was plenty of evidence that I could commit to other endeavors. As a mom I would never shirk my responsibilities to my kids: keeping them fed and clothed, getting them to school mostly on time, taking them to the doctor when they got sick. Clearly for me, academics has always been a priority. You don’t suffer through med school and residency without a profound dedication to learning. My family will tell you that I frequently put my patients before them. Rushing out from dinner to deliver, missing school functions to go to surgery, being gone when they get up and not home after school. Like I said, lots of evidence for commitment to goals but not to sticking with a diet plan.
So what gives? Was I just too lazy to stick to a diet? Was I a glutton that couldn’t push away from the table? Was I just a foodie that couldn’t say no to a delicious morsel? Could I just not get my ass off the couch to exercise? Or was I…..OK, so I’m going to stop right now and get up on my soapbox. People that diet are some of the hardest working people on the planet. Why? They continue to strive and work even though they only have a 1.8% of success. They are going against evolution, biochemistry and hormonal milieu. They are going against culture, environment and genetics. So we may be plenty of things but lazy we are not. Ok off the box and back to the point.
The big issue isn’t lack of dedication per se, but rather lack of commitment to OURSELVES. As women, we tend to put everyone else before our needs and we do this for so long and so often, it becomes habitual. Think about it. Even when you are sick, you get up and take care of everyone else. Your kids, your house, your job. It all gets done and then, if you have time and/or energy you address your own needs. Well if you want to lose weight permanently, this mindset has to change. You have to work on keeping your commitments to yourself no matter what. This is going to feel weird at first and part of your brain will be coming up with all kinds of ways to convince you that your plans are not that important. You need to learn to acknowledge those reasons and move on. So how do we do this in real life?
First, come up with a goal. I said to start small so let’s start with drinking enough water. Every day you have different water needs but let’s start with a plan of 64 ounces. Get out your calendar and write 64 ounces at the top of every day. Now brainstorm and work through your own issues and how to get this done. For me I start with 24 ounces every morning. I can’t drink my first cup of coffee until I have had 24 ounces. Huge motivator, I get it done. Boom, 1/3 of the way finished. Next, I fill up another 24-ounce container at work. I take a drink every time I enter and leave my office. I try to get it done before lunch. If not, I finish it before I go to lunch. I can’t eat until it’s empty. Fill it up one more time. I usually like to have a cup of Joe in the afternoon so sometimes I don’t empty my cup of water. I eyeball it and know how much I have to drink when I get home. As soon as I come home, I put down my stuff and open a La Croix (that’s 12 ounces) and drink before dinner. This helps to stave off any hunger and I’m finishing my goal. By that time, I should be done with all of my water and I’ve kept my promise to myself.
Look, you are not going to be perfect right at first or every single time but I’ve done this plan for so long it truly is habit. After you have one goal down, pick another and build. Maybe it’s deciding to never eat bread at a restaurant. Plan it out, write it down, brainstorm around obstacles (hunger, desire, urge, fatigue). Come up with a solution for each and every obstacle and then stick with it no matter what. Commitment to yourself is a skillset like everything else in life. Practice, practice and then practice some more. Now you WILL make mistakes but don’t let that mean that you can’t trust yourself. Reflect on what went wrong and then write down 5 ways to make it better or 5 ways to change the outcome. Be committed, be dedicated and be your own best friend. Now go pick a goal and get to it!