“I know I should eat this salad and not these chips. Ergo, I shall eat this salad and not these chips. Simples!”
because if they were, nutrition would be a complete breeze. And it’s not.
The choices we make about what to eat and whether to exercise or not are mixed up in a whole bunch of “things” that make them complex. But luckily, my colleagues at Precision Nutrition clued me into a super-easy tool to use that helps cut through the fog here and it’s something we can ALL use. Every time we feel ourselves teetering on the edge of the “I’m going to make a s*$t choice” pothole.
This is what you need to have in your back pocket for those occasions - a spotlight. Of awareness.
What you do is this:
you NOTICE how you are feeling, what you’re thinking, your knee-jerk reactions, who you’re with, where you are, what’s just happened to you.
Then, you NAME it. Call it out. Bring it out into the open.
This works because awareness changes everything. You can’t change what you are unaware of, right?
What’s awesome is that you can use this simple lil tool for uncovering all sorts of useful “stuff” that’s going on in the relationships between you and food, you and exercise, you and all sorts of things.
All you’re doing is paying attention. Staying aware. In a non-judgemental way.
Here’s the reason why I want you to buy into this - I often see people (maybe even you!) being aware of the behaviour itself - the overeating, the bailing on the gym, the drinking too much wine - and then being massively self-critical about it - “I’m such a doofus! I can’t even do this one thing!”.
And I sometimes hear judgement from those who DO eat well, about those who don’t. Stuff like “why can’t they just get this? It’s easy to not overeat sugar/drink in the week/eat vegetables. So they must just be lazy or stupid, right?” (if you ever see someone say that to me, take cover. Odds on that my head is gonna explode with irritation and frustration at that unenlightened kind of comment and you don’t need brain splatters all over your top).
It’s NOT easy, people are NOT lazy and they are NOT stupid. YOU are NOT a doofus and the thing you’re trying to do is NOT that simple. Give yourself a break. Behaviour change is a process that requires a fair bit of work, some solid guidance, self-compassion, self-awareness and applying some smart steps that make taking the right action easier. It can’t be boiled down into the simplistic equation of “if you know it, then you do it”.
Noticing and Naming, though, is one of those techniques that will elevate your ability to kick sugar’s butt and hustle the biscuits back onto the supermarket shelf before you get to the checkout. It’ll help you go out with your friends and make a considered decision whether you really want to be the one that finishes up the bottles of wine you’ve all shared. And it’ll give you a bright shiny light to shine on what happens that leads you to eat all the Club bars in the fridge when you’ve had a crap day.
What do you notice about your habitual behaviours? What do you notice when knee deep in your potholes and falling-off-the-wagon experiences? What triggers do you see?
Be curious about what drives your behaviours. Be interested, notice and then just say, “ok, that’s interesting”. Don’t judge what you notice. Watch out for falling into thoughts like “crikey, what a dumb trigger. What a stupid reason to eat chocolate.”
There are no dumb triggers or reasons, there are only triggers and reasons. These can be changed, strategised against and/or displaced. All you gotta do to kick that off is notice them and call them out. Ok? Off we go then. To noticing…and beyond!