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

By Michelle May, M.D.
  • 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.

dandelion puff weed.pngSound 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?

The structure provides you with the flexibility and freedom for lasting change.

Butts,_Jeffrey_F_11-6-08 Take Jeff Butts. 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 and attributes his tremendous success to the combination of bariatric surgery and changing his longstanding thought patterns around food.

Read Jeff’s success 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.

(This article is from our monthly e-newsletter; subscribe here and download “101 Things to Do Besides Eat” free.)

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About the author

Michelle May, M.D. is a recovered yo-yo dieter and the founder of the Am I Hungry?® Mindful Eating Programs and Training. She is the award-winning author of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat: A Mindful Eating Program to Break Your Eat-Repent-Repeat Cycle , winner of seven publishing awards. She is also the author of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat with Diabetes, Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat for Binge Eating, and Am I Hungry? Mindful Eating for Bariatric Surgery. Michelle shares her compelling message and constructive keynotes with audiences around the country, offers workplace wellness programs, and has trained and licensed hundreds of health professionals to facilitate Am I Hungry?® Mindful Eating Programs worldwide. She has been featured on Dr. Oz, the Discovery Health Channel, and Oprah Radio, and quoted in Diabetic Living, Fitness, Health, Huffington Post, Parents, Self, USA Weekend, US News & World Report, WebMD and many others. Her personal success story was published in Chicken Soup for the Dieter's Soul. Michelle cherishes her relationships with her husband, Owen and grown children, Tyler and Elyse. She regularly enjoys practicing yoga and hiking near her home in Phoenix, Arizona. She and Owen, a professional chef, share a passion for gourmet and healthful cooking, wine tasting, photography, and traveling.

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