Relying on Motivation or Willpower

Hello team! It’s me, Christopher Lawrence with the Healthy Transformations Program. HealthyTransformations.ca. Why am I sitting in front of a fireplace? Well first of all, I started this all by myself. Didn’t even need a match. Talented! And if I turn it up, it sounds like my house is on fire! Do you hear that? Okay that’s- Slow down. So why am I in front of a fireplace and what does this have to do with weight loss and reducing inflammation? Well, there’s some of the obvious things like inflammation is like a fire and it burns in our body. But I’ll let Mike talk about those kinds of things. The good doctor Breen. What I would like to talk about is motivation versus- motivation and willpower versus- Oh, I lost my train of thought. Motivation and willpower versus behavioural change. So- What I want to talk about is motivation and willpower versus behavioural change.

So motivation is the thing that starts the fire. That’s willpower. It feels really good. It feels really good. The problem is that motivation is an emotion. That’s what it is. Have you ever felt one emotion your entire life forever? Me either. The answer is no. Our emotions change all the time. So how could we expect to stay motivated all the time? It doesn’t make sense. What we need to do- Sorry, my thighs are burning so bad right now! ‘Cause I’m kinda crouching on a couch to get this beautiful angle. Of my fire which just looks like burning white flames in this camera. Anyway. So we don’t want to rely on motivation because we haven’t had-because much like emotion, motivation is not sustainable. But what we do wanna rely on is habit change. Practicing habit change. So if you’re relying on motivation which feels good and you need to act on that motivation for sure. If you’re relying on it long term it actually doesn’t have a very good outcome. You have to rely on habit change. Practice. Being gritty. Making the hard choice. It totally sucks sometimes. But it’s totally one hundred percent possible for all of us to do it because you have somewhere in your life you’ve already done this. And we just wanna leverage that and keep working on it.

It’s not about throwing in the towel and saying “I’m failing again” it’s about saying “Geeze, this is practice and this is one of those times where practice feels hard”. One of the skills that I’m working on right now in my life is learning to play the piano. Eating correctly can be very much the same. There’s new skills involved. You know I make a lot of mistakes. I mean, learning one simple piece I might make hundreds of mistakes. And it gets frustrating sometimes, right? But we know when we’re learning a sport or an instrument or a new job that there’s gonna be some frustrating times. That we’re not gonna get it right away. Why would we expect anything different when we’re learning how to eat correctly? It’s not a straight path. Sometimes it’s a tangled web and a complete mess for a little while and it can be frustrating! Super frustrating. But we can get back on track and lean into it and keep going and going and going and making correct decisions until our average-ness of those decisions increases and increases and increases. Right? It’s not about “I ate a doughnut so I’m throwing it all in”. And it’s like, well you might for a day or two but maybe it’s only a day or two this time and not months. And so your average-ness of that correct choice, that correct behaviour is increasing, increasing. Give yourself a break, man. You deserve it. It’s hard to do this stuff sometimes. But, you know, you can have a team with you. You can create your own community or you can check us out at HealthyTransformations.ca. Myself and doctor Breen, we’ve got lots of information on there. we keep trying to put more information on there. It’s a big problem in our world. Incorrect eating. And you know what? We’re gonna change it. Just one person at a time. It’ll come slow, but it’s coming. Thanks very much, folks. Take care.

Angela Duckworth – Why We Can't Stick to Weight Loss

Hi folks, it’s Christopher Lawrence here without the transformations program. I wanted to share a really cool piece of research with you. This is called “Beyond willpower strategies for reducing failures of self control” “Beyond willpower strategies for reducing failures of self control” I wanted to read it twice just so that you could lock it in. So when we look at like weight loss or eating correctly, or exercising, or reducing inflammation in the body through adapting our food, why is it that we can’t seem to stay on track? With food there is a bit of a magic bullet. When you eat a certain way, you’ll produce certain results in the body. Certainly if you eat the healthy transformations way, you’re going to reduce inflammation, lose weight and beat the odds of having chronic illness but our behaviors there doesn’t seem to be a magic bullet, we hear things like, well, if I have a fresh start, or if I have a plan, or you know, maybe if I go do some behavioral therapy, then that’ll be the thing that fixes it. And sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn’t. So why is that? What’s the difference? The really key thing with this is that there is actually no bullet for behavioral change or for managing behavioral change. And the challenge that we continually run into is why is it that, you know, when I did say, goal setting as my tactic for exercise that worked really well and maybe I added planning and tracking into that as one of my tactics that worked really well. But then when I did correct eating, I use those same tactics and it didn’t work. Why is that? Why is it? And we can drive ourselves bonkers with this stuff.

I know even with me for years and years and years, I was like, why is it that this works for me and this doesn’t work for me, or it doesn’t work over here when it worked over here. And so it’s like, we’re just taking a shot gun and trying to pinpoint the center of a target. But what does a shotgun do? it just kind of blast the whole thing away and it’s not pinpointed enough to kind of get the results. Well, if you’re feeling frustrated, it’s actually a very common thing because we don’t know what’s actually gonna work. There is no magic bullet when it comes to behavioral change, habit shifting, or anything like that. And what I love about this piece of research is that Angela Duckworth and her team Katherine Milkman and David Laibson, I believe is how you say their name. They are from the University of Pennsylvania, they are researchers, they’re psychologists who are researchers. I think all of them are psychologists, research psychologists. In any case, they put together a list, a detailed list of 22 different tactics that they could identify that had been researched to some level. Some to great detail and some to not so great detail. So what that tells me is that there’s probably even more tactics out there, but these are the ones that they could find that had been researched, that had some effect. And what they’ve come to is that, not one tactic works for one person all of the time for whatever that goal or habit that they’re working on is, it could take a combination of tactics, a lot of trial and error.

So if it seems a little bit frustrating, a little bit overwhelming, a little bit confusing about why sometimes something works and why sometimes it doesn’t when we’re looking at behavioral change, it’s because of this because, we don’t actually know what the combination is gonna be for you that’s gonna make it work. What’s cool about it though, is that we have a whole bunch of different options that we can choose from, and what I like about this article is that they actually go right into and there’s a nice little cool diagram in here. They talk about self deployed versus other deployed, and situational versus cognitive. And so we have lots of options to choose from and so if this is something that you’re interested in, you should check us out healthytransformations.ca and you can learn more about this and how it applies to weight loss and you can reach out to us and attend one of our info sessions.

Still Struggling with Food Cravings: Try These Helpful Tactics

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Cravings. The word alone makes me cringe and feel guilty, just thinking about eating low-nutrient foods. We all have them, and we all have caved to our urges at one time or another. But you don’t have to. While it isn’t easy, everyone can gain more willpower and replace our poor food choices with healthy ones.

The Science of Craving

Every time we give in to a craving, we reinforce the neural pathway to continuing to eat this way. This means, it makes it even more challenging to stay strong and not give in the next time. It’s like any compulsion or addiction, acting or doing the very thing you crave only weakens your willpower the next time you are faced with a craving. In fact, neurologically speaking, fast food isn’t much different than hard drugs.

Another interesting fact about cravings is that our gut bacteria play a significant role with cravings! Recent research shows that what we eat gives our body specific instructions. So, if we feed our body the right high-nutrient foods, you kill the bacteria that are hungry for those “incorrect” foods!

So, What to Do?

Well, there are two schools of thought on dealing with cravings. Both are helpful, but each addresses a different aspect of cravings.

Distraction.

The first is to distract yourself with something else, an activity that takes your attention away, such as, walking, reading, or tidying up. Find something that you enjoy or that requires you to think or move. This will refocus your thoughts and attention to what you are doing, and you will forget about eating. And while you might enjoy watching a bit of TV, I don’t recommend it’s often associated with mindless eating. By dulling your senses, it lowers your defences against cravings. However, distracting yourself from wanting to eat is a short-term strategy. It can be effective at the moment but doesn’t create the lasting results that will help transform your life.

Face Your Cravings

The second school of thought and I think the more effective path is to sit with the discomfort of the craving without running away from it. Avoidance or ‘numbing’ the feeling by busying yourself is an effective band-aid if you need to get through the moment, and I don’t want to discount the importance of that tool. Still, it is essential to face the craving and understand where it comes from. Not only will this strengthen your long-term willpower, but it will also help address and solve the root of those pesky urges for unhealthy foods.

Journal

One way that I find really useful is to journal. I grab a pen and paper as I like the tactical feeling of writing and doing something with my hands, and I jot down the following:

  • What am I noticing about my emotions right now?
  • What am I noticing about my thinking right now? What thoughts am I experiencing?
  • What do I notice in my body? What sensations am I experiencing?
  • What does my intuition tell me? Do a gut check!

Once you are finishing writing these answers down, observe and watch how these things shift and change in your mind. Notice that by not giving in to the craving, that the world, your world, is ok. At first, this will probably feel a bit difficult and uncomfortable, maybe even that it isn’t working. But that’s ok, because each time you sit with your thoughts and cravings, it will become easier to automatically turn those cravings into healthy choices.

In other words, don’t rush through the cravings and avoid them or numb yourself to them. Instead, be with your cravings and make friends. After all, keep your enemies closer, right? The more you face them, the less control they will have over your life.

Plan and Be Prepared

Remember, just because you have a craving, doesn’t mean you need to act on it. I would suggest creating a plan for your cravings. As most people know their ‘trigger’ foods and the typical examples that they crave, it helps to know ahead of time what you plan to do when that craving hits. I LOVE popcorn, so as I know this is a trigger for me, so my plan would be as simple as:

  • When I am craving popcorn, I will meditate for 5 minutes and focus on my breathing. If I am unable to meditate, I will go for a walk and then write for 10 minutes in my journal about what I am feeling.

So your example could be something like:

  • When I am craving {insert food}, I will {fill in blanks with lots of ideas of what you can do, including the suggestions in this post}.

Writing out your plans is more effective than only thinking about them. It doesn’t need to be elaborate, bullet-point works too. Do what works for you!

Lastly, make sure you eat two meals and three snacks a day. There is enough evidence to suggest that if you keep up your eating throughout the day, cravings are more easily curbed.

Additional Resources

If you need a bit of extra support and information, check out these four important questions for even more help understanding the thoughts and behaviours behind mindless eating. Remember, you are not alone, we all experience cravings, and everyone has caved at one point. If you give in, that’s ok. Be kind to yourself and start again. If it helps, journal for 5 to 10 minutes about it to learn from it. No journey is perfect, but we can get stronger with every step we take and learn from.

Christopher James Lawrence is a Co-Founder of the Healthy Transformations Program with Dr. Mike Breen.  He is also the Chief Value Officer and Founder of Change My Life Coaching and Co-Founder of Change My Business Coaching — a fast growing whole-life, leadership and business coaching company, and the only one of it’s kind.  He is also the author of “Go Beyond Passion: Discover Your Dream Job”.  Christopher is a Certified Master Coach Practitioner (CMCP), trainer and facilitator, and a passionate public speaker that truly cares about the success of each and every single person he comes into contact with. You can reach him here.