What's the first thing that pops into your mind when I mention the following two words - weight loss? Well, if you're like a lot of people, whatever that thought is, it may very likely include a foul word or two. The reason I say that is that most people find that losing weight is one of the most frustrating, challenging, anger inducing and emotionally volatile things that they ever attempt to do.
There are a variety of reasons that this is such a difficult and traumatic endeavor for most people but I think I can sum it all up pretty efficiently in one sentence. At the risk of oversimplifying, the reason is because it's very difficult, if not impossible, to do one thing while your mind is telling you to do something else. Yet, that is what most dieters find themselves attempting to do almost every single day. They want one thing (weight loss) but then consistently make choices that take them in the exact opposite direction. The key to finding success is to get your mind to work in conjunction with your heartfelt goal of losing weight and living a healthier life.
With that said, I'd like to offer you 5 tips today that should help you to better focus your inner resources on the health goals you have in mind. At the heart of my suggestions today is a concept that I developed and regularly refer to that I call The Family Feud. It provides a simple and straight forward explanation for the underlying psycho-dynamics that lead to either dieting success or dieting failure. In short, The Family Feud describes the internal battle that goes on, inside your head, every time you contemplate a health choice. This internal battle is fought between the responsible, health conscious part of you who wants to lose weight (the Adult) and the compulsive, instant gratification part of you that isn't interested at all in weight loss (the Child).
In order to help you control the impulsive desires of your "I won't cooperate" inner child, I offer you the following 5 suggestions for managing the unhealthy food demands that come form that little unruly internal rascal. Here are five suggestions for creating change by bringing more power to the responsible adult within you.
- The key to change is awareness. As an awareness technique, create an Adult/Child column in your food journal so that you can actively monitor who is making your daily eating decisions. If your irresponsible Inner Child is making the food choice (junk food), put a "C" in that column. If, on the other hand, your responsible Inner Adult is making the food choice (healthy food), put an "A" in that column. You can then tally your A's and C's at the end of each day or week and actually see who's in charge. You can then take specific action to maximize your daily A food choices and minimize your C food choices. This is a great awareness technique that can help shape and deliver real change.
- Take a page from that successful TV show called the SuperNanny and take charge of your inner child and household. You, like the SuperNanny, must evaluate the current situation, develop a strategy to address the problem and then apply those strategies in real life eating situations. In your life, just as with that TV show, healthy choices, family peace and responsible living is all about controlling that impulsive child! So take a lesson from this compelling television program about family chaos and become the SuperNanny that brings healthy living and structure to your own internal Family Feud.
- Use the power of mental imagery to win the argument. Raising your awareness of this internal Family Feud struggle will help you more easily identify a food demand being made by the inner child. When this happens, close your eyes for a moment, take a deep breath and, in your mind, send your inner child to their room until the temptation passes or until your inner child agrees to behave. Even though this may sound a bit silly to some of you, you would be amazed at how powerful it can be.
- Acknowledge the unhealthy request of the inner child, say NO firmly and then take charge of the situation. People often try to convince themselves that they really don't want that piece of candy, cake or whatever. It's more honest and better helps you to resolve the Family Feud inner conflict if you say something like this to the voice of the relentless inner child, "Yes, I know you really want that candy but you simply can't have it"!
- Send your Inner Child to the ICU (Inner Child University)! This is an attempt to use the concept of home schooling to help you to educate and control your inner child. When he or she demands something unhealthy, use that situation as a teachable moment and review the nutritional content on the package. Just as in real life, this helps to educate the child while providing you with a distraction strategy that takes your mind in a different and healthier direction.
I hope you found these five ideas interesting, creative and helpful. They simply supply you with some strategies that interrupt your habitual way of doing things by forcing you to stop and think before you react. At the end of the day I believe that every child, even the fictitious one that I call the inner child, want and need a strong and loving parental hand in their life to guide them. If you want to take the sting out of dieting and become that healthy person that you dream about, just become the best parent you can be for the child within!
Wishing You Great Health,
Dr. John H. Sklare