21 micro habits that make weight loss stick #4: Learn new thoughts with cue cards.
If you don’t change the thoughts that sabotage your attempts to lose weight and stop overeating, and that grease the way to your many tiny daily not-hungry eats, they’ll pop up again as soon as you’ve finished your diet or detox or lost your weight, and send you back to where you began.
In my coaching practice, I like to use hypnosis to accelerate thought rehearsal, says food psychology coach Laura Lloyd. But here’s a simple way you can train your brain at home.
Here, eating psychology coach Laura Lloyd describes exactly HOW to condition your brain to think new thoughts automatically instead of the self-sabotaging nonsense our habit brain sends up.
Your thoughts are just sentences that run through your brain. That’s all they are.
Before you even try to lose weight, or while you’re trying to take compassionate control of your overeating or binge eating, I can’t recommend highly enough that you clear out your brain.
But when you discover ones that are facilitating your overeating…
- which can be innocuous little things we tell ourselves like ‘I’ll just have one’ or ‘it won’t make a difference’ or ‘I’m so tired’ –
- or big beliefs that bring on waves of powerful panic and fear like ‘I’m out of control’ or ‘There’s no point in trying’
…Well, you’ll want to replace them with ones that don’t sabotage your attempts. Ones that make you feel motivated, and excited about your journey with food and weight, and strong, and liberated, and proud of yourself.
Thing is, most therapy is quite good at showing you your self-destructive patterns.
If you don’t have a therapist, three minutes with a notebook, asking yourself what you were telling yourself just before you last overate, is a pretty awesome teacher.
And finding the thoughts that are tripping us up is so revealing and it’s exciting, seeing habitual thought patterns that have been hiding in our unconscious steering our behaviour around food, suddenly in plain sight.
Some people say ‘awareness is everything’, and it sure is a superpower. But don’t be fooled –
Insight can be addictive. But it doesn’t bring change. By itself.
Awareness is a necessary precursor to change. But then, you need to take action. You need to make conscious choices.
So how are you going to learn new thoughts?
There are lots of ways, but most involve training your brain through conditioning – repeating the new thoughts as often as possible.
- Post-it notes on the biscuit tin.
- Reminders on your phone.
- My favourite (because it was a huge part of my own overcoming binge eating) – self-hypnosis audio. (Which is why I’m currently training in Hypno-CBT).
But the easiest way, that doesn’t require any technique, is just to write your new thought on a business card, and make it your business to read it out loud to yourself at set times – eg having it by the loo and reading it aloud to yourself every time you pee; or having it in your car and reading it aloud to yourself whenever you’ve dropped the kids at school, and the minute before you pick them up.
No, don’t just read about it. Go now, get a little piece of card, and write why overcoming overeating is going to feel great to the future you.
Whip it out whenever you think that immediate urges are more important. They aren’t, and you’ll need to teach yourself to privilege the long-term gain over the minute-by-minute gratification over and over and over… but when it’s your new habit, you’ll think this way for life.
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Just a little side note from me:
Self-judgment is never even slightly helpful, people, if you want to lose weight.
It will stop you in your tracks. Self-judgment creates inaction.
I mean, we think it’s failure that’ll stymie success. That’s not true.
As Brooke Castillo says, failure is not the opposite of success. Inaction is the opposite of success.
Essentially, feeling like a human car crash because you have a lot of thoughts that aren’t helping you, and a lot of habitual behaviours bothering you, just makes it painful to look at what you’re doing, and analyse it.
Which is why we put off leaning in and looking at what we’re really doing when we’re messing up.
But when we do look at it with curiosity, it’s SUCH a relief!
It’s your ability to go into ‘data analysis’ and 'I'm learning new skills' mode that takes the drama out of your weight loss journey:
Scale gone up? Just data – which habit or skill do I need to learn next?
Mum make a snide remark about how you’re ‘getting too thin’? Just data – how can you let other people’s opinions wash off you like water off a duck’s back?
Notice that you ‘can’t’ sit down to work without a road snack to get from the kitchen to your desk? Just data – what am I thinking and feeling about my work?
Go all-out on chocolate one day, and body feels sick and jittery afterwards? Just data – what was I thinking and feeling that day? Does this information from my body change how I think about ‘how much I love’ chocolate?
Self-doubt creates overwhelm. Overwhelm stops you starting. And, once again – that inaction is the opposite of success – not failure.
Failure is very informative. Failure means you’re trying things. It increases your probability of hitting on a solution.
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