Published on December 24, 2017
(c) RedKoala Fotosearch_k12695414
Whether it’s starting a weight loss program or starting to incorporate exercise or personal training into your life, one of the hardest parts about sticking to either endeavor, is the dread that comes from thinking about how far you have to go to accomplish your goals. Actually, let’s face it, it’s quite normal that when we have a big task of any kind in front of us, something we know we either have to do or should do, we can’t stop ourselves sometimes from getting overwhelmed by all the work that we’ll have to do to complete that task or achieve that goal.
Sometimes clients tell me that when they think about all they’ll have to do that day, tomorrow, next week, next month, next year . . . it paralyzes them. This is, of course, one of the major reasons why overweight/obese people procrastinate in getting started with their weight loss attempts in the first place as well as why people fail at establishing new habits and accomplishing new goals.
But, when speaking about weight loss in particular, the first day of packing your own lunch to take to the office instead of ordering in Chinese food or a huge deli sandwich or a pizza, as you usually do, or turning down the mid-morning doughnuts that your office provides for employees in the break room, is easy. But on day two . . . day three? Well, here’s where your mind can start to wander.
You might start to think about how you’re going to have to pack your lunch every day, you’ll have to plan ahead every day or two at a time every week so that you’ll know what food you need in the house . . . and then you’ll have to go grocery shopping every week, sometimes twice in the week . . . and you’ll never be able to have another mid-morning doughnut . . . and then you start thinking “Do I really have the time for this?
. . . and with that question comes, for most, the start of a spiral.
Stop thinking about how hard it’s going to be tomorrow, or next week, or during the Passover/Easter holidays in a few months or on your next summer vacation. You can’t tell the future. You can’t know what your cravings will be; you can’t say how much energy you’ll have to exercise tomorrow. For all you know, you might be stronger and more committed with each passing day. Thinking about the future — and assuming that healthy eating and exercise will always feel as hard as it does now — is where people derive so much suffering when they’re trying to change.
Here’s what you can do instead:
When the feelings of anxiety start to overcome you, when the devil sitting on your shoulder starts whispering weakness and doubt into your ear, stop and ask yourself one simple question, “Can I do it right now?”
Just as with a cigarette craving when you’re trying to stop smoking, or an urge for alcohol when you’re trying to stop drinking, when you have a food craving, ask yourself, “Can I ride out this craving just for this moment—this hour?”
The vast majority of the time, the answer is definitely going to be yes, you can do it now. So, if you have to crawl through the day minute by minute, hour by hour — asking yourself “Can I do it now?” — do that. Make it through by staying present in the moment and committed to the hour in front of you.