D to the I to an E to a T!

27 May

In an effort to expand my limited ‘home-girl’ vocabulary (recall my recent post regarding “hot mess” and “do me a solid”) I’m starting this post with a WHOOP WHOOP, Give me a D to the I to an E to a T! Are we square? (I’m trying- be patient with me please).

Maybe that’s enough for a day…or a lifetime.

You get what it spells though.

Here’s the dealio: I’m giving you, on this Memorial Day, a bit of motivation to get off your butt and get moving. It doesn’t have to be exercise for your body, although that’s icing on the…”ahem….cake”. This exercise is specifically for your brain. I’m offering you a new take on “diet” that does not involve bacon tetris (urban dictionary is awesome).

D: De-fuse to lose

What does this mean? It means get a grip. A loose one. When people diet they tend to white-knuckle it. They hang on for dear life. “Dear God, protect me from the foods that most tempt me. Help me to stay away from what I most love. Give me the grace to turn down what gives me the most pleasure.” Give me a break! All of these statements not only embody a mistake in thinking that the foods you love have to be avoided in order to succeed, but also a FUSION based on emotion and an instant aversion to even want to embark on what could be looked at as a journey to better health.

By fusion I mean a lack of perspective-taking and an overly judgmental identification with the goal. DE-fusion means shifting out of negative, rigid, and absorbed by emotion that has you pinned down and feeling caged, to a useful, open, and flexible approach to your health goals.

And this brings me to the next step. Maybe you don’t even know what your goals are!

I: Identify your Goals

Okay, this may sound like a no-brainer. If you’re dieting the goal is to lose weight. Duh! (Okay, I think that’s a little old school, maybe 8th grade vocab– deal with it). But not so fast. There are few important factors to consider here: 1) While in the beginning, if you’re just setting out on your weight loss endeavor, focusing on the OUTCOME (losing weight) may be healthy, and even effective to increase your motivation. However, as you get into the planning (and research bears that this piece is in fact a mediating factor in the ability to meet a goal successfully– perhaps not surprising again, but it’s amazing how many individuals I work with don’t consider it until later in the game), it’s imperative that you consider focusing on the PROCESS. Each element of dieting can have its own specific goals  that you’re paying attention to, and these are the steps that will get you closer to the ultimate outcome.But if you aren’t intentionally monitoring the small steps in front of you, you’ll trip over them every time.

When identifying your goals, be sure to assess your motivations for them as well. Are they  extrinsic or intrinsic? Theories regarding self-determination used to classify motivation in a pretty black and white manner. We now know that there are many variables at play. With extrinsic motivation (what we usually think of as driven by external factors– we do it, in essence, to avoid contingencies or negative consequences (in this situation, “I’m dieting because my doctor told me to)–we know there are multiple levels. If you’re interested in a brief synopsis, refer to my podcast. But there is a continuum of integration of a goal such that you could be motivated initially by something outside of yourself, but move toward your behavior (i.e. scanning food labels, choosing healthy items when you go out to eat, limiting your intake of empty calories, exercising regularly, you  name it) being assessed as valuable at a core level, because you enjoy it, and you find it satisfying. At this end of the continuum, it is intrinsic and valued for the behavior itself.

E: Engage: Change your Environment or Change your Approach to it

You’ve got a couple different ways of managing your goals and the “barriers” that can present themselves along your path. You can respond, and this embodies a more flexible, adaptive, open, and connected way of navigating your world. Or you can react. You can choose to be impulsive, unaware, non-intentional, and operating on automatic pilot, letting the world run you, and likely becoming dissatisfied with your lack of control. It’s not fun to trip over yourself over and over again. So you can recognize that you have a choice in the matter. You can decide that whatever is in your way can be modified (i.e. your unsupportive partner may just be able to adopt a healthier eating pattern along with you) or you can change the way you approach it (i.e. recognizing that your goal is yours; your partner as the right to eat however he/she wants to).

T: Track Your Thoughts

Try it. Just like you’re writing your food down, start writing your thoughts down. The way you think guides your actions by way of how you feel, and I’m betting that sequence of events is often lost on you. Human nature is to avoid harm, attach to others, and approach rewards. We DO and often forget that it’s our thoughts that guide the movement toward these acts. Our thoughts lie to us and often take on a voice that doesn’t represent what we want to live or how we want to live. They are distorted, black and white, assumptive, and often very mean, lacking compassion, and just plain irrational. I challenge you to start noticing yours.

Now go forth and become weight loss wizards! Tune in tomorrow to my live, STREAMED workshop on 5:30pm CST from The Diet Doc’s home page- the topic: From Diet Disaster to Weight Loss Wizard: Your Top 10 Tools for Banishing Barriers

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