Trying to lose weight? Find out why resistance is futile when you avoid temptation, why avoidance is going to sabotage you, and why you need to file for a divorce!
The struggle is real…
Or is it??
You function from two parts of the brain: your primal brain and your sophisticated brain. Your primal brain wants instant gratification and to keep you alive. Your sophisticated brain wants you to reach your goals and to dream big.
When faced with temptation – like your favorite chocolate cake or chips – your primal brain will start to sound a little like Gollum from Lord of the Rings… “my precious!”… and you will start ogling the chocolate cake. You may even start drooling. Thoughts of how wonderful and great that cake tasted last time will (whether you realize it or not) start popping up. You will instantly get a dopamine hit before you even eat the cake!
These are primal thoughts. Strong thoughts. Desirous thoughts. MUST-HAVE-IT-NOW thoughts!
Did you notice how many times I said the word “thoughts”??
These are just that: thoughts… running through your head.
The problem is that if you give into temptation, chances are you will be choosing a path that keeps you right where you are… no closer to your weight loss goals.
Resistance is Futile
The more you resist it, the more you will want it. Your primal brain is like a toddler who wants the cereal that is 99% sugar and filled with artificial dye. The more you say “no,” the louder that toddler will get.
Instead, you can calmly acknowledge that you hear your inner child, and you see the cake, but you are not having it today… and here’s the most important part… tell yourself you can have it another day. It’s always available, and you can have it whenever you want. Once you give yourself permission to eat that tempting food, it’s amazing how quickly your inner child will calm down.
Resistance Equals Stress
Typically, when you try to avoid temptation when losing weight, your first response will be to resist: “Must not eat cake!”
You decide to white-knuckle it and see how much willpower you actually have.
If you are at a party and you see others eating the cake (and enjoying it), you are going to start to feel deprived: “Must sacrifice!”
Willpower will last for only so long. You may say, “Screw it! One piece won’t hurt me. I deserve it. I have held out for the last two hours,” and you may cave.
What if you were able to avoid the cake… and you just kept thinking, “Okay, the party will be over in two hours. I can do this. I can resist.” I used to do that – and then as soon as I got home from the party, I would have a super strong craving to eat a dessert, and I probably ate more at home than I would have if I had simply eaten the cake at the party.
When you resist, it’s almost like a boomerang. It will come back around. And it usually comes back as a binge.
But what if you don’t resist? What do you think will happen?
This is one of the best things I have ever discovered: when I used to resist and avoid temptation, my inner rebel (also known as my primal brain) would come out. My inner rebel is strong! It’s like the defiant teenager who sneaks out the window to go party in the middle of the night.
The crazy thing is if you don’t resist… your inner rebel doesn’t come out.
Give yourself permission to eat the cake.
I actually take this to the opposite extreme, and I tell myself not only can I have one piece of cake, but I can also eat the WHOLE cake if I choose to.
It works. Try it, and see what happens. But you have to believe it when you say it!
If You Try to Completely Avoid Temptation When Losing Weight, It Will Sabotage You
One of the popular weight loss tips is to get the tempting foods out of your house. I think this might be helpful initially, but at some point, you have to be able to be around tempting foods and have an indifference to eating them.
I always joked that I needed to work at a bakery surrounded by cakes, doughnuts, and cinnamon buns, so I would get sick of them and not want them!
So initially, if you want them out of the house go for it. But eventually, don’t you want to feel in control when you are faced with the temptation?
Get Comfortable Around Your Tempting Comfort Foods
I say put the tempting food all up in your face. Everywhere you go, bring that tempting food.
Tell yourself you can eat it.
Tell yourself you can eat ALL of it.
I bet if you ate your favorite food every day and at every meal for one week straight, you might not want it at all for a long time.
Please don’t get me wrong. I am not telling you to binge-eat your way through your temptation. Rather, I’m suggesting that you get comfortable around it and be able to choose whether you really want to eat it or not.
Get a Divorce
No, not from your spouse! Divorce your tempting food.
Think of dealing with tempting food as a relationship. This relationship will not help you get to a smaller dress size. Initially, you may need to divorce yourself from the food. Avoid temptation!
It’s going to be uncomfortable at first. You will see each other when you are out and about. You may even see your former food partner hanging out with another person.
But eventually, you will get along and be able to be in the same room together. You may even be able to have a civil conversation together. Or you may never talk to or even look at each other again. Either way, you will have an indifference to each other.
That is my dream goal for all my clients! Being around your tempting foods and not wanting them…doesn’t that sound awesome?!
It is possible, and I am a perfect example.
Realize Your Primal Brain is Running the Show
You may always have the desire to eat a tempting food, but be aware that it’s just thoughts running around in your head.
You will not die if you don’t eat the chocolate cake.
No one is holding a gun to your head and forcing you to eat the doughnuts.
You ALWAYS have a choice.
You can work sweets and tempting foods into your meals and still lose weight. But I love for my clients to get comfortable around tempting foods and, rather than feeling resistance and deprivation, to be able to make a calm choice as to whether they want to eat those tempting foods.
Here’s the Bottom Line to Successfully Avoid Temptation When Losing Weight:
1. Give yourself permission to eat the tempting food.
2. Get used to having the tempting food around you, and be able to choose if you want to eat it.
3. Get a divorce and make peace with the tempting food.
4. Remember that the temptation is all in your thoughts. You will not die if you don’t give in – in fact, it may help you get one more step closer to your weight loss goals.