On my way back from Tahoe last weekend, I had a long conversation with a good friend of mine who told me his mother was extremely over weight. He was trying everything to help her lose weight from creating healthy meal plans for her to helping her with goal setting and even cooking her healthy foods on a daily basis. She was doing well for 3 months and even dropped 10 lbs, but then all her efforts went downhill and she gained the 10 lbs back.
I have heard this type of story many times and I used to think that maybe people just lacked the will to change. But I recently read a great book which addresses the subject of will power and the psychology and planning that is necessary behind your change efforts, especially when it comes to losing weight. This book is called “Change Anything” by Patterson, Grenny, Maxfield, McMillan and Switzler. This book completely changed my opinions on how to make a change and I told my friend to give the strategies a try with his mom.
They argue that if you feel stuck at a specific weight, and living in a body you are not especially happy with, it is rarely because you lack the will power for things to be different. Think about that. You’ve undoubtedly felt lost and out of control in certain situations and reflected upon them by thinking that you did not have will power. And it just isn’t true.
We are all taught from a young age that all we have to do is ‘put our mind to it’ and we can make things change that we want in life. The problem is that no one ever teaches you about how to do that. And most of the time when you are finding it hard to change an aspect of your life, it is because you are outnumbered by 6 sources of influence that you must address before changes can occur and stick…
Source 1: Love What You Hate
If you are ever to succeed at making a change you’ll have to think about creative ways to make the right diet choices enjoyable for you. For example, figure out what you love about eating healthy food and exercising regularly. Maybe it is how energized this makes you feel or how much thinner you will look over time. Focus on the positives of what you have to change and making good choices will eventually become second nature.
Source 2: Do What You Can’t
If change is taking too much will and effort, you probably need to develop the skill to create and sustain change. Developing the skills to change actually plays a crucial role in creating and sustaining changes in your life. Try to focus on making a deliberate effort to master the skills you personally need to make changes easy and permanent. To make changes to your diet you can practice the skill of eating smaller portions at meal time or learning the skill of chewing your food completely to eat slower so you become fuller faster.
Sources 3 and 4: Turn Accomplices into Friends **
Few people are aware of how many others are involved in undermining their efforts to make a change through enabling and encouraging bad diet choices. So, if you want to change a behavior, one of the best things you can do is have a conversation with a few ‘accomplices’ (people that surround you on a regular basis who are not helping with your change efforts) and turn them into ‘friends’ who support your efforts. For instance, talking to the person who does the cooking in your household or does the grocery shopping and asking them to purchase healthier foods for the house can increase your success rate by 40%.
Source 5: Invert the Economy
Bad habits are cheap. And you can actually bribe yourself to change! Give yourself a goal to accomplish by a certain date and if you do not, make yourself donate money to a political organization you hate and have a friend make you stick to this promise. This alone can help you make significant efforts to achieve your goals.
Source 6: Control Your Space
We’re blind to the hundreds of ways our environment controls us. Our surroundings powerfully control what we think, how we feel and act. If you want to take control of your diet, you have to identify your current habits and then take control of your surroundings.
To do this, think about the answers to the following 6 questions:
- Who do you eat with
- What do you eat
- When do you eat
- Where do you eat
- Why do you eat
- How do you eat
Planning to overcome your personal 6 Sources of Influence and working with the challenging circumstances that present themselves on a regular basis will make you a much stronger person over time and will help your diet changes actually stick! It does take more effort initially but after you’ve put the work in you will be surprised at how easy it will be to overcome these for the long term.