I was on a consult with a woman recently who was interested in weight loss coaching.
She said to me, “I know what I need to do, I’m just not doing it.”
She’s not alone.
In fact, most of the women who reach out to me for coaching say these same words.
Why is it that we know what to do but we don’t do it?
I’ll tell you why.
It’s because we don’t value keeping our word to ourselves.
It goes something like this.
You set a goal to get up and go to the gym every weekday morning.
Sunday night rolls around and you don’t want to go.
Your brain starts to argue with itself.
“I don’t want to go…. You need to go! You said you would… but I didn’t sleep well last night and I want to feel rested for work tomorrow so I don’t want to get up earlier than I have to… OK, just go after work then.”
After work rolls around and that meeting went longer than you thought or you forgot and ate a late big lunch so now you can’t go to the gym.
You’ll just go tomorrow.
And something else gets in the way.
Maybe you go once, twice or even three times, but the habit never takes hold and you find yourself giving up on that goal… until you get fed up yet again with jeans that are too tight.
So you resolve to start yet again.
And the cycle continues.
The effort it takes to build a new habit, especially a habit that takes a lot of energy, is repulsive to your brain.
Our brains only want three things:
Psychologists call this the Motivational Triad, and getting up early to go to the gym does not fall under any of those categories, no matter how bad you want to look like P!nk in a bathing suit.
So why did you make the decision in the first place if your brain is only going to sabotage you?
You make these decisions because you genuinely want to feel something different than you feel right now.
You want to feel strong, beautiful, fit, healthy, and in control-- not flabby, overweight, unfit, and out of control.
So how do we get our brains on board with our desires?
How do we take action on our goals even when we don’t feel like it?
Decide to honor your word to yourself, every single time.
Most of us are not bad at keeping our word... to others.
We honor our commitments to other people all the time.
We show up on time for our bosses, our spouses, our kids, our friends.
We don’t flake out.
We don’t make excuses.
We don’t miss dates and appointments because we don’t want to disappoint other people.
And yet we are totally OK with disappointing ourselves.
We make decisions and commitments to ourselves everyday and then don’t follow through.
How would your life change if you made a decision to lose weight, committed to that decision, made a plan of action, and then showed up and took the planned action every single time?
How would your life change if you did the same for your career goals?
Your health goals?
Your financial goals?
Every single result you have in your life right now exists because of the action you took to get that result.
If you plan out the actions you need to take to reach your goals (“I know what I need to do...)” AND you actually TOOK every action that you planned, successful completion of your goal would be INEVITABLE.
You can start this right now.
Maybe a mini-goal.
For example, decide what you are going to eat at least 24 hours from now.
Pick just one meal.
Make it a perfect meal for you.
One that makes you feel healthy, nourished, and satiated.
And eat exactly that meal.
Nothing more, nothing less.
And notice how you feel when you take action from this place of planning ahead and following through on your commitment to yourself.
Keep doing this.
Follow through and take action.
Your success will be inevitable.
You will be unstoppable.
Recently I posted the following on social media:
“You know you need to #gettoyoga when your preschooler tells you ‘Mommy you have a waddle under your arm.’ (In case you don’t know, a waddle is the flappy skin under a turkey’s neck.”
A friend commented
“ Hmm... that, or use it as a teaching moment for body diversity and self love.”
That got me thinking...
Can we want to firm up, get strong, lose weight, and elevate our physical health to new heights and still be loud and proud body diversity advocates?
Here’s the deal.
I think in some ways women can’t win.
We criticize each other and ourselves endlessly-- we are too fat, too skinny, too strong, too weak, too short, too tall, too dark, too light, too old, too wrinkled, too saggy, too flabby … we are too too.
Body diversity was supposed to be the answer to that.
Body diversity advocacy says let’s embrace ALL bodies.
Body diversity advocacy let’s advertisers and casting agents know that we want to see a FAR greater representation of women in the media.
We want an earth-shattering expansion of the definition of beauty.
We want beauty on OUR terms.
What woman doesn’t want that?
I know I do.
But I also want a strong, lean body.
How can I be an advocate for body diversity and still want a strong, lean body?
A better question is, why can’t I be?
Strong, lean bodies are just as valuable as soft, curvy ones.
And I get to choose which one I want.
And I get to have fun working towards that result.
If I want a soft, curvy body I am going to take lots of action to get that result.
And if I want a strong, lean body I’ll take lots of action in that direcetion, too.
The action will just be different depending on the result I want.
But the FEELING will be the same if my head is right.
The feeling I have as I take action to achieve the physical result I want will be that of joy, satisfaction, exhilaration, self-love, motivation, inspiration-- whether my goal is soft and curvy or strong and lean.
This is why body diversity advocacy is so important-- because girls get to CHOOSE what they want their bodies to FEEL like and whether or not they FEEL good caring for their physical form.
Where body diversity goes wrong is when we use it as a euphemism for fat and then shame girls who don’t want to be fat.
How about we let girls decide for themselves what they want their bodies to look like and support them to make that decision from a place of SELF-LOVE-- not from compare and despair or self-loathing?
Which means when my kid points out my flabby arms I take it as a message from my greatest teacher (because aren’t our kids our greatest teachers??) that I’m not taking care of myself the way I want to.
Because for ME extra weight on MY body is symptomatic of emotional imbalance and strife.
This is me knowing myself, not me having opinions over other people's bodies.
I invite you to ask yourself:
What do you want to look and feel like in your body?
Does your answer feel like love?
When I tell people that I don’t eat sugar and flour they often give me a baffled look and say something like “Oh, I could never do that.”
One of the biggest misconceptions about my Ditch the Diet Drama weight loss program is that it requires you to learn to cook or to spend tons of time in the kitchen.
This couldn’t be further from the truth.
If you follow me on Instagram or FaceBook you may have gathered by now that I am NOT a fan of spending time in the kitchen (#hatetocook).
In fact, one of the biggest transformations I’ve had lately is recognizing that there are many things in my life that I thoroughly enjoy as long as the time spent doing them is limited.
Cooking is one of those things.
I don’t want to spend more than 20 minutes in the kitchen on any given day of the year.
And I am definitely not going to follow a recipe or learn to cook something new after a long day at work.
In fact, I did a whole post on cooking when you are short on time a few posts back.
This post is going to teach you how to cook when you don’t want to become a full-time home chef but still want to eat right and lose weight.
Step 1: Create a meal Capsule.
Like a wardrobe capsule, a meal capsule is comprised of a few well-tailored (to your body), high quality basics that can be thrown together in a myriad of ways.
It has been said that everyone rotates between the same 7-10 meals, even if they don’t realize it.
This is basically your meal capsule-- your go to meals that you can cook in your sleep.
For my family they are
These foods comprise the infrastructure of our weeknight meals, more or less.
We switch it up, swapping burgers for sausage or getting take out sometimes, but we basically cook these foods with lots of variation on veggies, seasoning, or method of cooking like roasting veggies versus steaming, using olive oil and parmesan on broccoli or steaming and drizzling butter or cheese.
On the weekends my husband likes to go to the grocery store or farmer’s market and get inspired so the weekend meals are far more varied-- almost always cooked outdoors, like smoked fish and grilled veggies.
Step 2: Make a Quick Plan
Each weekend I roughly plan out the meals we will eat for the week.
This takes me two to five minutes max.
I think first in protein and then take a quick visual inventory of my fridge and freezer.
What do I already have? Chicken? Tofu? Ground meats? Sausage?
I then plan go-to meals from my meal capsule and jot it on my handy-dandy white-board meal planner right on my fridge door.
Step 3: Shop
At the grocery store I buy any protein I need that I didn’t already have at home that I need for my meal capsule.
I also scan for meats on sale and pop those in my deep freeze for quick meals later.
I peruse the veggie section and load up on anything that looks good to me.
I always get a mix of veggies-- leafy greens, cruciferous veggies like cauliflower and broccoli, and veggies that can be eaten raw like cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots, and bell peppers.
Here’s one quick tip that I couldn’t live without:
I exclusively buy veggies that require little to no prep.
Washed and ready to go is my jam.
It is the secret to quick meals on weeknights.
Go home, open the bag, dump it on the lined cookie sheet, toss with olive oil, salt and pepper, and put it in the oven at 400.
Prior to eating this way I spent a LOT of time stressing about food.
My mind would race throughout the day with thoughts like
With a meal capsule, these intrusive and anxiety-fueled thoughts are eradicated completely.
Eating this way has simplified my life tremendously.
I know what to shop for.
I know what we will eat.
I know it will be nutrient-dense.
I know it will fuel me.
I know it will taste good.
I know it will not make my pants tighter.
A few years ago I went minimalist.
I spent a week off from work going through every room and drawer eliminating anything we weren’t using (much to my husband’s dismay... ).
I packed my car to the gills with garbage bags full of stuff, squeezed awkward lamps and baskets in every nook and cranny, and tucked my baby into his now cramped car seat to drive back and forth 1000 times to our local donation spot.
It felt so good.
Exhilarating, in fact.
There was something so relieving about shedding the excess.
I got a little rush each time I found another item to toss in the donation pile.
With each item discarded I felt a little lighter and freer.
After my final trip to donate I returned home to my decluttered house expecting to find inner peace waiting for me on my clear countertops, as promised by all of the minimalist authors I’d been reading.
I was disappointed to find that old, familiar, restless anxiety instead.
So I scoured every shelf and closet, looking for more to get rid of… there must be more!
Taking action on my physical space wasn’t enough.
I had to take action on my mental space, as well.
Just like Marie Kondo recommends holding each object you own in your hands and asking yourself if it “sparks joy”, I had to hold each thought I owned in my hands and ask myself if it sparks joy, or rather, if it was serving me.
I have degrees from UC Berkeley and Stanford, but the most important lesson I’ve learned in my life is that we choose our thoughts-- something I never learned in school.
Just like we choose the clothes in our closets, the dishes in our cabinets, and the towels in our bathrooms-- we choose the thoughts in our heads.
And if the clothes in our closets no longer fit or are not serving their purpose of keeping us warm and feeling good, why keep them? Why not trade them in, or toss them and get new ones?
The same holds true for our thoughts.
They can be selectively chosen, on purpose, and dismissed all the same.
How to declutter your Mind
We can declutter our minds just like we can declutter our homes.
And just like keeping our homes decluttered, keeping our minds clean and clear is an intentional daily practice as well.
It is a practice that elevates every single aspect of our lives.
And who doesn't want that?
Lia Pinelli is a weight loss coach and educator who helps women put an end to emotional overeating and lose weight, permanently.