I had this question asked to me the other day from a client, and it’s not the only time that I’ve been asked that.
Those that know me KNOW that I can get very philosophical or cerebral with my answers, but theory doesn’t give you the answer that you, or this client, was seeking.
You want the answer of HOW to stop eating crap food.
Well, I’ll give you the same answer that I gave them and, to date, it’s the best way that I can explain WHY you break down and eat that pop tart (which I love by the way).
Why did you eat that crap food?
The answer is simple.
It made you feel good. That’s it.
Nothing sexy about it, except that food makes you feel good, it gives you the pleasure that you were seeking at that moment.
Why You Do What You Do…
Everything YOU do or every action you take can be broken down into TWO driving forces.
These forces are:
- Gain pleasure
- Avoid pain
Think about that for a second.
Almost every action that you have taken can be traced to one of those driving forces.You took action on something in your life because you wanted the pleasure it was going to give you or you were trying to avoid the pain that would result if you didn’t take that action.
Think about a past relationship that wasn’t a good fit for you, oh we’ve all had them; at one point in time, you were with the person because they made you feel good and fulfilled in some way. When things started going south being around them no longer gave you pleasure, being away from them was more pleasurable than with them, or it was more painful to be with them than away from them.
See what I’m talking about? This is no different from food.
You eat, crave, or have this insatiable hunger for certain foods because it makes you feel good.
We can argue that food companies throw in chemicals that contribute to the feelings of need and addiction in certain foods (think of the documentary SuperSize Me), and if that is true I’m sure that it doesn’t help, but that argument aside, the root of the matter is that ‘crap’ food you’re eating gives you pleasure.
How To Stop
I’ll admit that I don’t claim to be a Tony Robbins style of epiphanies when it comes to inspiring a mindset shift, but I can propose ideas that I have done for myself and some of my clients that may give you a light bulb moment.
Whenever I have a client that just seems to suffer from this crap-food(itis) it is because they are seeking pleasure at that moment, so we try to find something else that will bring them more pleasure than their food of choice.
Could be read a book, take a nap, have sex, working out, you NEED to think of something that gives you more pleasure at that moment than food.
But what about if you’re at work? I’m sure co-workers don’t want you fornicating on your desk or taking a nap, so then what?
Well at that point we have to reverse the mindset to associate PAIN with that food; that it has to be more painful to eat that food than NOT eating it. <=== talk about a mindf—k huh.
How Do You Change Your Mindset About Food?
I’ll give you an example of what I did.
Oreos are my weakness, even typing that word makes me crave them, and I can put DOWN some of those cookies! I love Oreos so much that I would buy a big bag of them AND a snack bag (6 cookies) at the same time so when I would drive home from the store I would eat the snack bag in my car and eat 3 sleeves of the double stuff (the whole package!) when I got home. Not even kidding.
If I were to tell you all the kinds of things I dream of doing with Oreos you’d never look at me the same again!
I realized that I had a problem and knew that I had to change because I was gaining weight and getting more and more self-conscious about what I looked like; I haven’t always been fit, contrary to what a lot of people think.
The problem was Oreos were so damn easy to get and doing the other things that gave me pleasure at the moment wasn’t always the case, so I had to associate some pain with eating Oreos.
I had to train myself NOT to eat them.
This wasn’t the easiest thing to do, so I would find a way to make it MORE enjoyable NOT eating the cookie than eating it. Or you can look at it as it was more painful to eat the cookie than not.
How did I do this?
Well I thought about all the times that I had to start over in my dieting because of my Oreo bender, or all the times I would have to eat less to make up for it or workout even more just to stay on track with my goals and I would remember how annoyed or pissed off at myself I got for not just having ONE cookie, but 30+
When I thought about it, I realized how irritated I was for always having to start over. And, honestly, I just got tired of being mad at myself. Being angry is just exhausting, let alone, not mentally healthily.
Side note: remember people I’m not talking about 1 or 2 cookies here, I’m talking about a whole bag.
So whenever I went to the grocery store and passed by the cookie aisle, I would focus on the pain I would feel of having to start over with my goals JUST FOR A FEW MINUTES OF PLEASURE, and when I thought about it that way it just wasn’t worth it.
Every time I went to the store or the gas station, it got easier and easier to walk away because I didn’t look at cookies in a way that gave me pleasure anymore but instead was a symbol of me not getting to my goals.
As time went on, I got more pleasure NOT buying them because I was getting more pleasure watching my body change.
I understand that this may be a bit extreme and some of you may focus on the fact that its just one cookie, but face it, people if you have a food addiction or crap-food(itis) it is NEVER just one.
I went for nearly 4 years without having an Oreo before I finally had ONE (yes just one) and what was cool is that I was ok with just one and moved on with my day.
Now, I’m not going to lie to you and say that I still don’t crave them, as you can read the above paragraph, but what I don’t do anymore is go on my Oreo bender. I’m ok with just a few, but I’ve found other things that have given me more pleasure than 20 minutes with some Oreos.
What I’ve Learned Over The Years.
I’ve applied some of these techniques to not only my health but with other aspects of my life. In fact, these techniques are what gave me the mindset that I needed to leave my previous employer and start my own business.
This technique ONLY works if you follow through with it, and you sometimes need some reminders.
-Think about why you are doing this, remember why you started.
-What will this cost you in your life if you don’t change?
-How much pleasure could you get out of your life if you do change?
-What is this costing you (emotionally, physically, spiritually) if you don’t change?
-If you do change how would that make you feel about yourself?
-What kind of momentum would this change create?
-What else could you accomplish?
You don’t have to answer all the above questions, BUT I would encourage you to do so, actually write them out and say them out loud; especially during those moments of weakness.
In Health and Awesomeness,
Travis Merritt, BS, CPT, (and other cool letters behind the name) is the Owner of Rowlett Transformation Center in Rowlett, TX.
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