Grab a notebook and pen for this episode! You're going to learn how to change your eating habits at the core level so you don't have to rely on willpower to lose weight. You won't want to miss this one.
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Welcome to the Weight Loss Before and After Pregnancy Podcast. The place you’ll get simple strategies you can apply to your life today to start losing weight. Strategies that’ll help you reach your goal, move on with your life, and focus on the things that matter most to you. I’m your host, Certified Life and Weight Coach, Andrea Scalici. Let’s get started.
Hey everybody. Welcome to episode number 7.
Today we’re gonna talk about changing your eating habits which is one of the most important things you can do to lose weight and keep it off in the long term. And I want to start out this episode today by talking about why it’s so important.
A lot of people try to use willpower to lose weight. And when you use willpower, you’re like forcing yourself to do things that you might not really want to do.
So, you might have a salad on your meal plan, for example, and you’re trying to use willpower to force yourself to eat that salad. And when you do that, the feeling inside your body is resistance, or tension, or some sort of negative anticipation. That forceful energy you feel inside your body is basically willpower.
When you change your eating habits at the core level, your experience is completely different. Like when you see that salad on your meal plan, you’re not gonna feel that resistance, that tension, that pressure inside of your body. When you change your eating habits, you will feel calm, and collected, and you will just look at the salad on your meal plan and go make a salad and eat it. It won’t be some big forceful energy that you feel like you’re fighting against all the time.
This is why changing your eating habits is so important when it comes to weight loss. And this is why it’s sustainable in the long run.
Can you imagine trying to lose weight and keep it off forever using that willpower, that tension, that forceful energy inside your body? It’s just exhausting. You can’t keep that up. I certainly couldn’t. And I don’t know anyone who can.
But learning how to change your eating habits is an alternative way to do it that is sustainable in the long term because it doesn’t have all of that forceful energy. It has a lot of calm, collected, committed type energy attached to it. And that, you can keep up.
In this episode today, I’m going to teach you exactly how to change your eating habits at the core level. Grab a notebook and pen and take notes because this is gonna be a good one.
So, let’s start here. What are habits?
Many people think habits are actions we take that we just do without thinking too much about it. Which, yes, this is true. But let’s go a little bit deeper.
In last week’s episode, we talked about The Model.
The Model tells us that there are circumstances in the world, which are facts. We each have thoughts about those circumstances, which are opinions only. Our thoughts cause our feelings. Our feelings drive our actions. And our actions give us our results.
If the Model is truly how the world works, then which line of the Model would habits fall? Are they a part of the action line? Or are they more than that? I believe they’re more than that. And again, this is important for you to know if you want to change your eating habits and lose weight without using willpower. So, hang in with me here. Let’s run through a quick example.
Let's say you’re a working Mom. Let’s say you go to the office in the morning. You have a long day at the office. Then, you come home. You help prepare dinner for your family. You eat dinner with your family. And then you put your kids to bed. After your kids are in bed, you go back downstairs and you eat a chocolate bar. And let’s say you’ve done this, over and over again. So, eating this chocolate bar before bed, after you’ve put your kids to sleep and before you go to bed, has become like a habit for you.
Let’s break down exactly what’s happening that led to this habit.
So, after your long day of work, after having dinner with your family, and putting your kids to bed, you’re tired. You’re exhausted. And maybe even a little bit, you know, stressed out or frustrated or annoyed about something that happened during your day or as you were putting the kids to bed. And you know there’s a chocolate bar down in the kitchen pantry.
In this example, you can put ‘chocolate bar in the kitchen pantry’ in the circumstance line of the Model. The chocolate bar is there. It’s a fact that it exists.
And maybe you start to think, “Oh, I really want that chocolate bar.” That goes into your thought line of the Model.
This thought, “Oh, I really want that chocolate bar,” leads to the feeling of desire. Desire goes in your feeling line of the Model.
And the desire leads to you walking down the stairs, opening the kitchen pantry door, getting the chocolate bar out, opening the wrapper, and taking a bite. These are your actions so they go in the action line of the Model.
Now, here’s what I really want you to see. If you’ve done the same thing over and over again, this has likely become a habit for you. But it’s not just the action of eating the chocolate bar that’s become the habit. It’s the combination of the thought, feeling, and actions.
At the end of your day, thinking, “Oh, I really want that chocolate bar,” feeling the desire, and going down into the kitchen to eat the chocolate bar, well, the combination of this thought, feeling, and action is the habit. And every time you’ve experienced this combination, it started to feel a little more unconscious than the last time. More like you were on autopilot. Like it was your default. Right?
Let’s take it a layer deeper. Now, you had the same thought, feeling, and action over and over. This combination starts to feel unconscious inside of you. This is because every time you have this combination, you’re strengthening neural pathways inside of your brain. And the stronger those neural pathways get, the more the habit has been ingrained inside of you. The stronger those neural pathways get, the more unconscious it’ll feel, and the more you’ll start to do things without even realizing it beforehand.
That is exactly what’s happening. That is the process of creating a habit. And you should know that it is completely normal. It’s the way our brains are meant to work. It’s effective.
Think about it like this. We each have about 60,000 thoughts every single day. Which means we each have about 60,000 combinations of thought, feeling, and action. And we want the majority of those to be unconscious. We want them to be habits, things we can just do without thinking too much about it. Otherwise, we would be exhausted.
I mean, if we had to consciously think about every single thing that we thought, feltl, and did, and make a decision on it, we would be exhausted. So, the way that the brain works, where it strengthens the neural pathways to become a habit, is normal. It’s effective. It’s exactly how our brains are supposed to work.
Which also means, having any self-judgement about going downstairs and eating a bar of chocolate, isn’t gonna be useful to you because this is exactly the way your brain is supposed to work.
But if you’re trying to lose weight, you’re not stuck here. It’s important to recognize that this is a habit. Recognize what the habit is. Like, what is the thought, feeling, action combination? And evaluate, consciously, what you’re currently doing.
You can start by looking at a day in your life. Yesterday, for example. What did you eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner? Did you have any snacks throughout the day? Did you have coffee in the morning with artificial creamer in it? Did you have a lot of sugary beverages throughout your day? Like, what did you put inside your body yesterday? This will help reveal your current habits to you.
Now, as you evaluate, there’s bound to be some habits throughout your day that you have that you like. What are the habits you have that you like? Find those ones first and try to figure out why you like them.
Let’s go back to our example. You’re a working Mom and you go to work during the day. And because of your situation at work you really don’t have time for a long lunch. So, maybe you bring a small salad with some chicken on it and a piece of fruit. And you really enjoy eating that small lunch because you don’t feel stuffed afterwards. You feel pretty good inside your body. You don’t feel deprived with what you’re eating. And maybe eating this small lunch at work is a habit you have that you like.
The reason I recommend you find some of the eating habits that you have that you like and figure out why you like them is because then you can look at the eating habits that you have that you don’t like and figure out why you don’t like them. Then, you can start to change the ones you don’t like to be more aligned with the ones you do like.
Ok. Back to yesterday. Look at all the eating habits that you had yesterday. Pick out one you like and determine why you like it. Then, pick out one you don’t like and determine why you don’t like that one. And then, make a decision to focus on one habit at a time. What specific habit do you have right now that you don’t like that you want to change? Focus on one habit at a time.
So, if you’re a person who eats chocolate before bed and you don’t like this habit, figure out why you don’t like it. Maybe the reason you don’t like this habit is because you have a tough time sleeping at night with all the sugar in your body. And maybe your stomach hurts at night as you’re trying to sleep too. And maybe you know this habit isn’t helping you reach your weight loss goals. Those are all pretty good reasons to want to change this habit.
If you make the decision to focus on this specific habit, eating chocolate before bed, here’s how you change it. You’re gonna reverse the process.
What does it mean to reverse the process?
It’s a lot simpler than it sounds. But you should know upfront, that it may take you some time to change this habit, especially if it’s one that’s really ingrained inside of you. It may take you some time, but it’s still completely doable.
So, reversing the process looks like this.
In order to get the habit in the first place, you have a thought, a feeling, and an action combination. And you’ve thought this thought, and felt that way, and did those things over and over again, which formed your habit by strengthening your neural pathways.
In order to change the habit, you have to sort of reverse your thought and feeling and action in a slow, gradual way.
And here’s what that looks like. Step 1. You have to have awareness of your thought, feeling, and actions after you’ve eaten the chocolate at night. Once you’ve got this dialed in, move onto step 2.
Step 2. You have to have awareness of your thought, feeling, and actions during the time that you’re eating the chocolate. So, as you’re eating the chocolate. And once you’ve got this dialed in, move onto step number 3.
Step number 3. You have to gain awareness of your thought, feeling, and actions before you take action to eat the chocolate. When you reach step 3, this is when the real magic starts to happen.
Let’s go back to our example. Let’s say you just put your kids to bed and you’re starting to think about that chocolate. “Oh, I really want that chocolate.” You’re starting to feel desire inside of your body and you’re noticing yourself walking down the stairs towards the kitchen.
In this moment, you can gain awareness. “Whoa! I’m thinking about this chocolate. I’m feeling like I really want the chocolate. I’m feeling the desire. And I’m walking to the kitchen to eat it. But instead, I’ve caught this beforehand. I’m aware now. I can practice feeling the desire for the chocolate without taking action to eat it. I can practice feeling tired from my day. Feeling frustrated or annoyed about something that might have happened throughout my day. Or maybe something frustrating that happened as I was putting the kids to bed. I can practice feeling those emotions without taking action to eat the chocolate.”
This moment of awareness before you take action to eat the chocolate is gold. But remember, it’s not just awareness of the actions you’re taking. It’s awareness of the thought, feeling, actions combination. Dig in deep and discover what’s happening with you at the deepest level.
When you’ve reached the point where you’re aware of your thought, feeling, and actions before you eat the chocolate, and you don’t take action to eat the chocolate, instead you just sit with your awareness and you just feel whatever you’re feeling, this is how you reverse the process.
Practice this over and over again until it becomes a habit for you in the opposite direction. Reverse the process. Weaken your neural pathways for this thought, feeling, actions combination. This is how you change your eating habits at the core level.
And one final thing I want to mention here. One of the most important things that you can do for yourself during this process is to feel curious about what’s happening and feel compassion for yourself in these moments.
You want to be curious when this thought pops up. “Oh, I’m thinking I really want chocolate. That’s interesting. I’m curious about that. Where is that coming from?”
Maybe you had a very long day. Or you had a rough time putting the kids to bed. Maybe you feel really frustrated and annoyed and you just really wanted something to take the edge off. If this is where you’re at, you can have compassion for yourself in that moment.
“Of course I’m gonna want the chocolate because the chocolate helps me feel better in the moment. It gets me that dopamine hit in my brain, that pleasure chemical hit. Of course, it makes sense I would want that in this moment. But I’m not going to allow myself to have it. And I’m not gonna use willpower to resist it because that’s just gonna make it stronger. What I’m gonna do is just practice feeling the frustration. I’m gonna practice feeling the annoyance or the desire for the chocolate."
Now, without escaping, practice feeling whatever you genuinely feel in the moment. Allow these feelings to just be there. Open up to them. And the way that you do that is by focusing on your thinking.
It all comes back to The Model, right?
If you’re feeling a certain way, it’s because of what you’re thinking. So, if you want to feel curious or compassionate or open or willing to even feel these emotions, you have to think thoughts that make you feel that way.
In these moments when you’re doing the work to change an eating habit, focus on your thinking. Focus on feeling your feelings. And focus on just breathing though the moment and letting it be whatever it’s gonna be.
It might not be fun, but this is the key to weight loss. And not just that. It’s the key to sustainable weight loss that you can maintain in the long run.
Alright. That’s it for today. I hope this podcast helped you. I know it was a lot of information. So, if you need to listen to it again, notebook in hand, I encourage you to do so. You can do this. And I’ll talk to you soon.
If you loved this podcast, I want to invite you to check out The 6 Stages Weight Loss Program. It’s my signature program that’ll teach you everything you need to know from start to finish to lose weight, reach your goal, and maintain it once you’re there. You’ll also learn how to have your own back through the process. Join me over at mcccoaching.com/join. I’ll see you there.
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