Fitting into those skinny jeans is closer than you think
We have a rough day and we can't wait to get home where we know there's a half eaten box of chocolates.
An argument with a friend or family member leaves us feeling frustrated and angry, we reach for the packet of biscuits staring us down from the cupboard.
We snap back at a work colleague's rude tone and feel awful, we know there's a tub of ice cream that will make us feel better.
"Between Stimulus and response
there is a space.
In that space is our power
to choose our response.
In our response lies our growth
and our freedom"
- Viktor E. Frankl
In my last email I explained how I used to have a reputation for visiting the chocolate machine in the office where I worked.
This was the stimulus for me, the trigger.
Once I'd stuffed down one delicious bar of chocolate, it was difficult to think of anything else.
I ended up going back more times throughout the day.
I knew something needed to change.
Of course, it was no good trying to use willpower.
(We all know how that works out!)
Willpower is a conscious process.
The habit of going back time and time again to the chocolate machine is a subconscious behaviour.
And you can't change a subconscious behaviour using a conscious process.
Quite often we can't control the stimulus, especially when other people or things out of our control are involved.
What we can control is how we respond to
what has triggered us
(yes I agree, at times it certainly doesn't feel that's possible but stay with me ...)
What if, when we're triggered, we did something different to what we usually do?
(In a moment, I'm going to tell you what that is because I know the difference it's going to make to you).
This is where we break the habit
(without having to use willpower!)
This is where change happens.
The next time that packet of biscuits is staring you down from the shelf on the cupboard.
Or that box of opened chocolates that you're convincing yourself you might as well eat because, well, once they're gone they're gone!
Or that pizza you grabbed on the way home, instead of the nutritious dish you had prepared that morning.
Do one of these (in fact, do all of them!)
The magic with any technique I teach you is that they can be layered on top of each other.
Food cravings (and that battle inside of us) come from a place of anxiety.
When we're fighting off the temptation to eat yet another biscuit, bar of chocolate, we feel anything but relaxed.
One of the most effective ways of reducing any anxiety is to breathe using the 7/11 breathing technique.
If you're not familiar with this, here is how it's done.
Breathe in for the count of 7
Hold for a moment
Breathe out to the count of 11
If you find 7/11 too much, use 3/5 or 5/8.
As long as the out breath is almost double the in breath.
This will bring down anxiety to a level where you can think more clearly.
Focus your eyes on one spot in front of you and just let your gaze soften.
Notice 3 things you can see with your peripheral vision.
As you continue to stare at that spot, notice 3 things you can hear.
Now, notice what you FEEL with your body.
Notice the feeling of being supported by the surface beneath you.
Notice where your clothing brushes gently against your body
Notice the way your tongue feels in your mouth.
This brings you back to the present moment.
It lets you notice things you were missing before.
When you notice the peace in your body, tell yourself, "I am here and I am already content."
In my opinion, changing your self-talk is one of the easiest yet under-used techniques I know.
It works because two things cannot occupy the same space at the same time.
So if your mind is full of empowering thoughts, the idea of eating that sugary rubbish just won't fit.
You will know what feels right to you but here are some ideas:
"I am in control."
"I am content without a snack."
"I am perfectly satisfied already!"
"I feel comfortable and confident leaving the biscuits on the shelf"
All of the above, powerful yet extremely easy, techniques require no willpower at any time.
In my Weight Loss Challenges and End Emotional Eating Programmes I have taught clients tools and techniques to not only lose weight but to keep the weight off, all without the need for willpower.
I'd love to hear how the techniques change things for you.