Most of our habits or the way we do things were not decided ahead of time.
We never consciously decided to avoid weighing ourselves at all costs, to eat mindlessly as a coping strategy, or to yell at our kids when they misbehave.
But all of those things are choices that so many of us make every day. We've done them so often, they've become habit.
And worse, our brains are so efficient at driving these actions that there's very little conscious thought put into continuing the habit.
It's just the way we live.
Once these choices surface into our conscious awareness, it's very easy to just want to stuff them back away.
It's like opening the door to a hidden room in the attic and turning on the lights.
We look in there and realize it's a complete mess!
The easiest thing to do is to let our choices slip back under our conscious awareness. But when we do that, we make no progress with our goals. Permanent weight loss is never achieved.
One of the most powerful tools I offer to my clients is called Decisions Ahead of Time.
The reason this is powerful is because when you decide what you will do at least 24 hours in advance, you are engaging your rational, thinking brain, the prefrontal cortex, and asking it to make the decisions. These decisions have your best interest at heart and drive you toward the results you want.
When we don't decide ahead of time, our actions are driven by our primitive brain. The one that acts on urges. The one that has adult tantrums when it doesn't get its way.
When I think of the prefrontal cortex and the primitive brain, in my mind's eye, I always envision a calm, confident mom in the grocery store with her 2 year old toddler who desperately needs lunch and a nap.
The toddler sees the candy in the checkout aisle and whines for some. The mom calmly says no. So the toddler throws himself to the floor, screaming and kicking, hoping that the tantrum will result in his mom giving in and getting him some candy.
But the mom's wise to these tricks. This isn't her first rodeo, so she steps over her flailing toddler, pays the cashier for her groceries, and grabs her bags. Then, in the other arm, she picks up her still writhing and crying toddler under the arms and carries him out to the car.
The easiest thing for her to do would be to give in, right? You give the kid the candy and he shuts up. But this mom knows that if she sets that precedent, then every time she goes with him to the store, the same thing will happen again, only worse if she doesn't give in that time.
So she refuses to see her toddler's tantrum as a sign that anything is wrong. He thinks that freaking out might possibly be a good method of getting his way, plus, he's not mature enough yet to know how to handle disappointment on top of exhaustion. Mom has confidence that her son is learning how the world works and that giving in to him will delay those lessons.
If we approach a New Year's Eve party with tons of food and alcohol without using our prefrontal cortex ahead of time to make decisions about what we're going to eat and drink, then we are letting that 2 year old toddler make all the decisions.
Do 2 year olds make great decisions all the time?
In a word, NO.
So if you wake up New Year's Day wondering why you can't control yourself, it's because you let your inner toddler run the show!
Mom needs to be in charge here.
The best way to let Mom be in charge, is to decide ahead of time how you're going to eat and drink before the food is in front of you.
I'm going to give you 8 examples of decisions ahead of time:
- I will not eat joy food unless it's planned at least 24 hours in advance.
- I will eat only when I am truly physically hungry.
- I will eat fuel foods that I have decided ahead of time feel good in my body.
- I will constrain my fuel foods to make it simple and easy to choose what to eat when I am out.
- I will not beat myself up for any reason, EVER.
- I will rely on thoughtfully planned decisions ahead of time instead of impulsive decisions or reactions in the moment.
- I am willing to consistently do hard things for myself and my health.
- My relationship with myself and my health are deliberate, planned, and honored.
I want to challenge you to create your own decisions ahead of time.
You'll never be happy with your results if you let your inner 2 year old (primitive brain) make the decisions.
Let Mom be in charge so that you know you've got your own back and your results are predictable.
It's only a couple of days until the new year. Are you a new year's resolution person? Have you set your health and weight goals for the year yet?
If you are a practicing MD or DO, my Doctors Only Weight Loss group coaching program is a great way to reach those weight goals. It runs just a couple times each year, so be sure to get your name on the information list by clicking here. You'll be among the first to know when the next session opens to registration
If you're not a doctor but are ready to take your journey to the next level, please use my Contact page to connect, and I’ll help you get started!