"It's almost like I'm in a trance or having an "out of body" experience. I think deep down I know what I am doing but I just can't stop myself. It's as if I blackout while I'm eating any kind of sweets (especially brownies and cookies). It's just hard-wired in my brain to not be aware of when I am eating sweets." - This was a response I received from one of my clients when I asked her about her relationship with food. Pretty alarming, right?
Unfortunately, this is not a unique response as I hear various versions of these answers quite often. So, what do you think about this? Do you think this client is simply not enjoying her foods in the present moment? Do you think she is stressed? If so, how could she enjoy her mealtimes? Is it a chemical response to the food she is eating (think, dopamine)?
And another. "It's almost automatic. I come home from work and without even thinking I go to my fridge and grab a beer. I sit on my couch to "just relax for a minute" and next thing I know I am 3 beers in and no closer to getting the chores done that I wanted to." I hear it from almost every client who comes to work with me one-on-one. This "mindless autopilot" that we all seem to get affected by.
Again, is this client stressed? Is he unmotivated? Is he passively letting life pass him by versus taking action to make life what he wants?
Of course, I do not know what the correct answer is exactly but I do know how you can become more aware of patterns in your behavior that are sabotaging your health and stopping you from reaching your health goals.
Tips for Understanding Your Unhealthy Patterns:
The first thing you need to do is decide what your health goals are. Without having a plan or certain direction you want to go it is so easy to simply "go through the motions". I am sure you have heard that saying, "If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail." Well, sayings like that stick around for a reason. Plan out your goals.
The easiest way to plan out your goals is to create a couple of SMART goals. What are SMART goals?
S - Specific
M - Measurable
A - Action-oriented
R - Realistic
T - Time Dependent
Ok, good luck...
Just kidding, I am still here. :)
SMART goals are...well, smart because this puts you into action and has a deadline, which means something needs to happen or you won't reach your goals. Here is an example of a SMART goal:
"I am going to start training for a marathon on March 15th after I get off of work. I will follow a training plan given to me by a friend to prepare me for an October marathon."
Is this specific? Yup. Measurable? Yeah, if I fail to train I probably won't be able to run the full marathon. Actionable? Oh yeah. I have to take action or I won't be able to run the race! Realistic? I think so. Giving myself 7 months to train for a marathon; totally doable. Timely? Sí. I have an end date in mind where I will re-evaluate what progress I have made towards my goal. Am I able to run the full marathon? Or did I fail at my training?
Take a few minutes to think about your health goals. Jot down a few SMART goals and share it with a loved one, your partner, a friend, or your dog.
Having goals in mind means that you are actively taking control of your life vs. just letting life pass you by. Do you want to grab a beer from your fridge after work? Probably. But, you decided that you were training after work so you could reach your goal of running a marathon in October. You should probably train instead of opening a beer and sitting on your couch. See? Without having set goals it is so easy to fall into a mindless pattern of behavior without really thinking about what you are doing because in a sense you are truly just alive in that moment vs. striving to reach goals that are important to you. Do you see the importance of having set goals in mind?
Let your voice be heard, write a health-centered SMART goal in the comments below.
Hope this helps,