21 micro habits that make weight loss stick #18: Evaluate like a forensic

Look at what you did yesterday. Did you eat according to the choices you made for yourself when you set out into the day? Or did moment-to moment events, thoughts, feelings and urges derail you?

Ordinarily, when you’re dieting, says Food Psychology Coach Laura Lloyd, you can’t bear to think about the slip-ups you made, or the moments where you fell for the mind’s rhetoric and gave into urges to eat random things.

That’s because you judge yourself for it, and feel shame and guilt and discouragement.

But when you learn to evaluate and analyse what happened, you get the chance to learn from all the mistakes instead.

Evidence laid out on a table

Evaluating what you ate and why, is your alternative to guilt and shame (and discouragement and frustration with yourself).

Diets are problematic because they set up rules, and ask you to follow them.

Simple rules – so if you can’t stick to them, you “must be stupid, or broken, or addicted”, right? You judge yourself for your mistakes.

And taking an anti-diet stance can be problematic too, because removing the possibility of failure by having no rules for yourself can create eating anarchy in your life, afraid to make decisions and be intentional in your eating, but you may then judge yourself for not being able to ‘naturally’ make choices not to overeat or not to eat a load of food that’s incongruent with your weight goals.

You might judge yourself for not taking action towards being your natural best weight, and just letting life happen to you.

We tend to judge ourselves all day long on every count, not just food.

We go to bed wishing we’d got the paperwork done, wishing we’d spent more time giving our kids our focused attention, apologising for our temper tantrums, and generally feeling ‘not good enough’.

Evaluation is your way outta that, people.

  1. You look at what you did. You milk it for three pints of learning.
  2. You also look at what you did right. You identify with all that’s good about you.
  3. You keep going.

Keeping going is key if you want to overcome overeating, binge eating, or create a lifestyle approach to managing your weight.

That’s because this success/fail mentality, rather than having a growth mindset, is what has probably kept you going back to square one, starting over, starting something new or a new diet…

…and using that success/fail mindset has been so exhausting that you probably wait until you hate yourself so hard you can’t bear yourself any longer before you muster the “I HAVE to do something” motivation to make each fresh start and try something new, because you get so worn out and burdened by constantly proving the thought “I always fail at dieting”.

Telling your journal page “Why I ate too much” is your alternative to ‘starting over’.

It’s not “Because I’m a loser”. It’s because of what you were thinking.

What were you thinking, right before you ate? When you knew you should probably stop, but you kept going?

And making a plan is your alternative to having rules, or having a free-for-all.

You might be It’s good to set your intentions at the start of the day, or even the night before.

Personally, I love a plan. LOVE a food plan.

Breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks. Sorted.

But even with a plan, numerous unexpected things can happen, and they rarely involve getting actually hungry.

  • You wake up late. You don’t have time for the mindful breakfast you planned.
  • You sit down to eat. Someone spills milk on the floor. By the time you mopped it up, you have to do the school run.
  • You stop at a shop on the way home, and the smell of pastries assails you.
  • You make yourself a mid-morning coffee. It doesn’t taste as good as usual. It’d be nicer with some dark chocolate.
  • You look in the fridge at lunch. There’s leftover macaroni cheese. It’s quicker than the salad you planned, and you’re behind with your work.
  • Your friend pops over. She made flapjacks. It’d be rude not to.
  • You pick the kids up. They have a chocolate bar on the way home in the car. You want one.
  • They bicker on the way home. “I can’t cope”, you think. You just want some peace. While they troop off to watch TV, you eat just a couple of chips while you think about what to make them for dinner. It turns into more chips, and salsa, then a couple of cookies.
  • After dinner, everyone vanishes, leaving you cleaning up. There are some homemade pizza crusts, it’s a crying shame to waste them.
  • When you finally lean against the dishwasher, you think you’ll just finish off a hard day with a treat from the kids’ lunch box stash.
  • You chase them all to bed, which takes hours, and you have work to do after they are asleep.
  • You pour yourself a glass of whiskey, which goes perfectly with one of those chocolate truffles you were given for Valentines.
  • One turns to three. Three turns to four. You eat the last two just to finish with them so you won’t have to face the temptation tomorrow.

Your brain will find all kinds of excuses, and justifications, and reasons, and persuasions, to eat food you hadn’t chosen to at the start of the day.

And that’s to be expected.

So instead of just feeling like you’ve ‘done it again’ when you ate something you deem you shouldn’t have, your evaluation can explore all of these thoughts.

Just think back. Take a guess, what you were thinking right before it happened? Find out the BS your brain is trying to sell you.

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