Habits Recreate the Past again, and again, and again…

By Michelle May, M.D.

Dieting is like cutting weeds with nail clippers…you’ll never get to the roots Weed4

  • Why can’t I stick to a stupid diet?
  • Why did I eat that candy? I wasn’t even hungry.
  • Why did I order the burger and fries? I was going to order a salad.
  • Why did I eat that whole bucket of popcorn? The movie hasn’t even started.
  • Why did I eat so much? Now I feel miserable!
  • Why did I hit my snooze alarm? I was going to get up early and go to the gym.

Sound familiar? These are the result of habits that keep you stuck in your eat-repent-repeat cycle. By definition, a habit is a recurrent, often unconscious pattern of behavior that is acquired through frequent repetition.

The problem with any habit is that it takes away your options. When you act out of habit, you continually recreate the past. No matter how motivated you are, new patterns cannot emerge from old, often unconscious, beliefs, thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.

You may already know that these are habits and you may have even tried various diets to try to break them. But that’s a habit too! Dieting is like weeding your garden with nail clippers; it’s a difficult, endless, futile chore that will never get to the root of the problem.

Until you know the real answer to Why?, you’re doomed to repeat those behaviors again and again (and again and again). Difficult. Endless. Futile.

The Missing Structure

What you’re missing is the necessary structure for getting to the root of the problem. Once you know and understand the missing structure, you can make your ineffective beliefs, thoughts, feelings, and behaviors conscious. Once they are conscious, you are able to use specific processes to systematically replace them with effective beliefs, thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.

Without this structure, the whys? like those in the examples above are sources of recurring frustration. Try as you might, the solutions are out of reach.

With structure however, the answers and solutions are clear and often quite simple. For example, each of the questions above is addressed by the processes in each of the six stages of the Mindful Eating Cycle™ (in order):

  • Why do I eat?
  • When do I eat?
  • What do I eat?
  • How do I eat?
  • How much do I eat?
  • Where do I invest my energy?

Butts_Jeffrey_F_11-6-08The structure provides you with the flexibility and freedom for lasting change.

Take Jeff. At 643 pounds, he was running out of time and running out of options. He made the decision to undergo gastric bypass surgery. However, he knew that his fundamental problem wasn’t the size of his stomach, but his relationship with food. He participated in an Am I Hungry? Mindful Eating Workshop in preparation for his surgery and again afterward. He’s lost 423 pounds which he attributes to the combination of bariatric surgery and changing his longstanding thought patterns around food. Read Jeff’s Story and watch the amazing video of how he celebrated his success!

No matter what you struggle with, I can confidently say that you’ll get to the root of the issue using one or more of the processes in this structure. (If you’re interested in learning more about the Mindful Eating Cycle™, download chapter one of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat.)

Do yourself a favor. Put away your nail clippers and get to the root of your issues so you can cultivate the habits you really want.

 

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