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It’s mid-January and most of us are in the thick of our normal work lives and getting back on the healthy train after overindulging in December. There’s so much energy around healthy eating at this time of year, and what I want to delve into is how you can think more neutrally about your outlook on food and exercise after overdoing it last month.

There’s a lot of guilt surrounding our actions and in trying to stay on track, but I’m going to be sharing how you can notice these unhelpful patterns of guilt and discouragement that will keep you from sticking to your plan. These mindset shifts I’ll be exploring on today’s episode will help you stay more consistent in going after your goals and lower the emotional charge around taking care of your health.

Join me this week to learn how to stop yo-yo dieting and exercising for good. I’m offering some scenarios that may help you identify how these cycles may exist in your life today and how to change them.

What You’ll Learn From this Episode:

  • Why guilt doesn’t motivate us in our diet and exercise plan.
  • An emotion you can try on instead of feeling guilty for falling off the wagon.
  • How to recognize a pattern of emotional judgment.
  • One great question to ask the next time you feel guilty around food or exercise.
  • Why transactional thinking doesn’t work.
  • How I’ve changed my energy around committing to new habits.

Listen to the Full Episode:

Featured on the Show:

Leave comments below this post or email me at diana@dianamurphycoaching.com

Full Episode Transcript:

Welcome to Weight Loss for CEOs. A podcast that teaches executives and leaders how to deal with the unique challenges of achieving sustainable weight loss while balancing the responsibility of a growing company, family, and their own health. Here’s your host, executive coach, Diana Murphy.

Good morning. I have been in sunny Florida, but now I’m back in Atlanta and thought I might actually need to build an ark. Boy, are we getting a lot of rain.

I’m a bit ahead of my podcast recordings so by now when you’re hearing this, you’re in mid-January, getting into the thick of your real lives again. And I’ve got something really special for you that I think is timely, and it is one of the most mind-blowing way, several ways that I’m going to approach this podcast to help you to stay more consistent in all things food and exercise. Let’s get started.

Again, if you’re following the cultural tide, most of us are back on track eating healthier foods and drinking less after our holiday vacations and times with our family. There’s a lot of energy around healthy eating in January after our overdoing it with alcohol, sweets, and too much food in December.

The concept I want to share with you today is all about thinking more neutrally around your behavior around food, whether it’s the overdoing time of the year like December or the under-doing time of the year like January. All of that is all about doing this with your thinking to help you to get all the results that you dream around wellness.

Again, we’re rolling along with the mindset series, and as you might see today, these mindset shifts can help you in all areas of your life. What I want to share with you today are several facets, scenarios, or common patterns where guilt and discouragement can play out during this journey of creating lasting weight loss and what I call life-giving wellness.

When you recognize these patterns for yourself, you can make the shifts that are powerful for you in helping you to not only stay consistent, but to lower the emotional charge around taking care of your health. Guilt and discouragement can play out in some sneaky ways and I’ll share with you where this might be coming up for you and some great tactics to feel empowered around health decisions instead of guilty or discouraged because you haven’t quite done it right.

What’s interesting and why this is so important is when you are feeling the emotion of guilt or discouragement, it slows you down and can actually create that yo-yo effect of dieting or exercising where it just does not give you great results. You’re off or you’re on, and what I want to offer you today are some key scenarios that might be getting in your way around these concepts.

They’re sneaky, so listen in. Alright, the first concept that I’ll cover is we think the guilt works for us. We think it pushes us. Let’s see it for what it really does. Next, we’re going to talk about taking care of our bodies is not a transaction. I’m going to talk about those thoughts that we all have. If I work out, I’ll lose five pounds, if I follow this certain diet, I’ll lose weight, if I do this, this will be the result, and leaning into a formula, per say.

The next concept I’m going to share is setting high expectations around the tasks and goals that actually especially around weight loss can actually create discouragement instead of great action. So I’m going to dig into all three areas today.

We do think that guilt works for us. You know, there’s major religious around it. People that are Catholic or Jewish might tell you that guilt is part of their culture. So we think it works. We think it pushes us. It does eventually, but not right away. Guilt is an emotion, comes from thinking you didn’t do it well or right or correctly. We typically feel guilty that we ate something bad when we’re dieting like eating a food that’s off our diet plan or our plan.

Don’t we love boasting about how good we are or how good we’re behaving while we’re working hard at a diet? But when we slip off or make a bad choice, it can take us out motivation wise.

When you think that you’ve done something wrong, you feel guilt. And listen to this, what do you normally do when you feel guilty? If you’re like me, you usually back off and we usually slow down and it doesn’t feel good. Some of us even continue to overeat emotionally without even realizing it, and it is because we’re feeling guilty after we made that “bad” choice.

This is what I mean. Let’s say I set out to drink wine just once a week and find out that most nights I had a glass of wine or two with dinner when I look back, I’m realizing I just didn’t honor that once a week thing. If I feel guilty as I look back on what I intended to do, I feel guilty that I didn’t stop, I feel guilty that I was so weak that I had those extra glasses, and now I’ll just do better next time.

But what really happens is I might wait until Monday and enjoy a lot of wine over the weekend because I’m feeling so crummy about the whole situation, I just want my wine. The struggle is real, folks, and your brain loves to offer negative commentary on your behavior all the time. It’s my job to manage it and it’s your opportunity to do the same and join me here if you see this pattern.

Let’s go back to the wine. About 20 podcasts ago on bold moves, I stated I was drinking wine once a week, if that. I tried it and it felt so amazing all week that I wanted to continue. Well, some weeks it’s working and some weeks it doesn’t. But I don’t feel guilty. I choose to get curious. Why did I choose the wine? It’s the second day in a row.

I might deserve it after a long day or I just wanted it with my steak or Italian food, or I just wanted it. It was a long day, I wanted a glass of wine. Lots of those thoughts create that energy. Do you feel it? Those thoughts were creating that energy to say yes to wine.

But I no longer feel guilty about it because I’ve switched to curiosity instead of judgment. Now I’m in that phase of learning this new choice for me. Now, I’m still working on this. I’m not doing what I intended to do, wine once a week, but I’m learning. I do fine with really, really good glass of red. One glass, once a week, if that.

But when I lean in on several glasses or several nights, I know that I just don’t feel well. I’m at that point of being annoyed with the way I feel afterward in my body and I’m reminding myself every time I make a choice to say no, how good it will feel. Not as much drama. I’ve nothing wrong if I have it, I just love taking care of myself in another way. Just enjoying it once a week.

So how do you recognize this pattern? One quick way is to watch the words you use around food or exercise. “I should, I better do this, or I was so bad today.” Notice that emotional judgment you put on certain foods and behaviors. Truly none of them are going to make or break your body losing weight.

Your bod is way more resilient than that and you know it’s true. You’ve been on plans before where you ate something “bad” in the middle of the week but you still lost weight. I was notorious for this thinking. I lived in points land in Weight Watchers and if something was terribly high in points, it was a bad food.

I think we all as a culture look at food this way. It doesn’t serve us because it creates that unnecessary guilt cycle. Food is just food. I say this often. I remind myself of this. It’s just food, it’s just wine, and it helps me just to neutralize that way my brain wants to, “You did it wrong again.”

This brings me to one more thing. Many of us are stuck in a guilt cycle because we believe that if we’re not hard on ourselves, if we’re not pushing ourselves, if we’re not feeling guilty because we made a bad choice, that we’re actually going to let ourselves off the hook and just gain 100 pounds.

I have had so many amazing business owner clients be almost fearful of letting themselves off the hook. This, my friends, is different. The way I’m looking at this, the way I’m looking at guilt or good and bad foods, or the way that you behave around this, it’s much more about taking responsibility for taking great care of your health and your body, and managing your mind, like this guilt piece we’re talking about. Managing your mind in the areas where it is getting you off track.

When we think, quote unquote, that pushing ourselves will get results, we’re creating another wave of emotional intensity that’s just not helpful. When you think you have to push yourself or think you’ll eat better if you’re hard on yourself, just look at how we behaved as children. It is almost like being an adult in your brain and you are the child.

Certainly, these patterns were developed when we were young and learning about the world. They really are operating without our permission in the background. They’re unintentional thoughts. But look at this; if you’re one of those people that thinks you have to push yourself to get something done, push yourself to complete the diet, how do you react when someone pushes you or punishes you for bad behavior?

Do you see it? This is where we are rebels against ourselves when we say, “What the hell, I’ll eat whatever I want,” because someone was pushing us or asking us to do it. When in fact, we were the ones pushing. That’s why taking guilt out of the equation is so important and powerful, neutralizing all this emotional space. I call it dropping the drama.

Bottom line, watch how you’re speaking to yourself and increase your awareness around the shoulds and the I better conversations around food. Just stay curious and notice. Next, when you’re feeling guilty, just ask a better question.

First of all, I just sometimes diffuse the whole thing. It’s just another day, if it’s a missed workout, or I will just say it’s just food. But also asking a powerful question can really disrupt the guilt, and this is a good one. What can I do right now that serves me best? Asking a great question puts the mind to work in a much better way.

Remember the wine? This is what I’m learning. I don’t get down on myself. I, of course, after a hard emotional day, I wanted that second glass of delicious wine. That happened to me actually two nights ago. Why am I saying no going forward? And this is what I observed.

I did not feel guilty but I felt blue and brain foggy all morning the morning afterward, and it affected my entire workday. I am not having it. I’m stepping up and honoring that response and I’m doubling down on my commitment to have wine just once a week, if then.

I am certainly now a new rebel, now saying no to wine at book club, but I am no longer feeling guilty. It robs me of my insight of my why and only extends the bad behavior. This is a very important time of year to discuss this. The media goes overboard on the new diet and exercise plans that are going to work for you. There are a bazillion of them, and it’s so confusing.

I want to talk about this whole concept of transaction, that if you do something, that you will get this particular result. I want to warn you that there’s just nothing inherently wrong with all these new diets, new plans, new studies. The media just loves January and goes overboard in talking about – if you listen to morning television or even the afternoon shows, you could probably count about 30 ways each week that all these media outlets are offering you a new plan.

And they’re all saying this, they’re selling you on if you do this, you will create the six-pack abs, weight loss, whatever it is. If you haven’t noticed, our bodies really don’t work in a transactional way. We talk all the time about calories in and calories out. It doesn’t work. And certainly, when you work out, you will have a different metabolism than someone that’s a couch potato.

But there isn’t a formula. There isn’t a transaction going on. And when we realize that, we will be much steadier emotionally about our weight loss results and road to fitness. This was my lifelong journey. I hope this illustrates. I was very heavy as a child, and naturally I thought that I’d done something wrong and I was being teased for being fat.

But what I started to believe, that really wasn’t true, I started to believe that I just hadn’t found the right diet. Any of these beliefs that consist of the line, if I just do this, and perfectly, by the way, if I do this, if I eat perfectly on the diet, it can really trip us up. And if we think that those actions then we will lose 10 pounds, then we will have the six-pack, then we will have a small butt.

But it can really trip us up because if you’re anything like me, I love achieving and being the best at things, and I was pretty much setting myself up for failure my entire life, leaning into someone else’s diet versus listening to what my body needed.

It’s so natural to get motivated and excited about a new method, a new workout, or doing a new eating plan, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But when you lean in and trust it without seeing what works for you and what doesn’t, you can set up for the emotional cycle that comes from failing. Let me illustrate.

If you start working out because you’re believing, if I work out again, I’ll lose all the weight, so you start working out and a big travel week hits you hard and lo and behold, you miss the gym for an entire week. You get on the scale when you get back home and you’ve gained two pounds, and you can hear that voice. “Well, if you’d worked out you would have lost weight.”

And all your brain offers is an entire conversation now of how you failed because you didn’t get to the gym at 5:30 because of course that was the only time. Even though you were hitting your pillow every night at 12:30am. But the brain will still tell you you were wrong for not getting to the gym.

What happens for many of us here is we then give up on any healthy efforts. We go into this week thinking if we workout, we’ll lose weight. And that week just did not work for the gym, but we set ourselves up because we can see that the challenge of travel just makes it so we cannot workout and again, our brain’s offering, if we can’t workout, we can’t lose weight. Transactional thinking.

What we miss here is a learning and getting creative and getting insight on what would work. This is what I do in my coaching conversations. When my clients are feeling failure and disappointment, and I don’t know about you, I avoid any activity that I might fail at.

I have some work to do there. So we get tempted to stop our efforts altogether instead of creating a great solution and learning from that situation. We wait until we’re miserable again and we push ourselves to work out all the time and try again. But what if we did this another way? More with our minds than with our actions.

What if you recognized that there was no perfect plan and paid attention to what your body needed? Okay, let’s go back to the business trip. You obviously needed more rest, but also learning to listen to your appetite, what if you had honored your fullness more often when dining out? That might have prevented the weight gain altogether.

Or you leaned into a higher percentage of fuel and you might be okay to rest while you’re on the road and just focus on what your body truly needs for fuel. This is a much kinder and gentler way, and you can’t fail at listening to hunger signals or fuel needs, right?

A great way to evaluate what’s working for you is to start with the positive and we’re going to stick with the road trip example so you can really see what I’m getting at here. What worked? You got your rest and you look back and you didn’t drink as much because you knew those days were long.

What didn’t work? You ate without any awareness and especially when you were with other people. What will you do next time? Choose two times to get a fresh air walk or treadmill if it’s raining at the hotel, even if it’s just for 20 minutes. Next, take advantage. What will you do next time around food? Take advantage of the hotel fridge for fresh snacks and breakfast foods that you like.

This approach of looking at what worked first, what didn’t work next, puts your brain in positive space and then you can plan and get creative about what to do next time. This is kinder, gentler, and more insightful. This isn’t about transaction and every time you do this, you’ll learn something new, and then when something doesn’t work, you’re setting yourself up for a lasting result versus following an exercise or diet rule or plan or not and failing at it.

Now, I’d love to touch on setting expectations and goals. Oh, do set them, my friends. In fact, this year, I’m setting a really big business goal. You might be hearing about that soon. But be sure to be honoring your desire for the result by taking the steps in between and what I’m learning, and that’s why I might share these goals is it’s about taking responsibility for all the steps it’s going to take to get to that end.

Not just this big drive and I’m going to set this brave goal. It’s really about those small steps in between. It is no small thing to make a decision to lose weight and set a goal. In fact, it can be pretty dang brave if you’ve attempted this before and have not been able to achieve the weight loss you’ve desired.

I hope by applying some of these mindset shifts, you’re having much better success. I hope you’re digging into these podcasts so you’re getting results. But there’s one more mindset shift that I think can be really powerful.

When you set a goal for your weight loss and get really motivated, definitely use that to get started. It’s awesome. But as you keep learning and tweaking and moving forward, make sure to make small shifts and just stay consistent. This is a power tool.

This is why I started a 30-day small action challenge on Facebook. I’m about halfway in but please do check in on my business page, Diana Murphy Coaching on Facebook. I do a lot of videos there.

I have had the desire to get on my yoga mat more consistently. I’ve even wanted to add more yoga classes. This is really what my body’s been asking for, but I was putting it off. So I decided to play around with this yoga idea and let it look different each day, but be sure that for at least five to 10 minutes I would get on my mat.

One day it was just to stretch out before I traveled. This morning it was to loosen up those hamstrings from my cycle class last night, and this afternoon, I might be giving a more active practice and play around with some videos online. You know, I weightlift tomorrow, I just want to get limber.

What’s so fun is I’m seeing it as play, which is helping my energy around it, by the way, but my commitment is only five to 10 minutes. I can do anything for five to 10 minutes, and I have moved this from I have to do yoga every day, which is really what was happening in these last few months, to I’m going to play around with what type of yoga I want to do each day. Total mindset shift. Do you see it there?

And it’s a little step, a small commitment, and it’s no matter what, five to 10 minutes, no matter what, if I haven’t done it all day, I’ll do it before I go to bed. But I am doing more than that and having a lot of fun with it, and I’m only in four days.

What would this approach look like for you? If your goal is to lose, say, 50 pounds, 30 pounds, a bunch of weight, instead of looking at the goal only through that metric of losing a certain amount of weight each week, what is your hunch that if you applied this habit for 30 days, would set up a really good pattern for you?

Let me give you some ideas. Could it be just committing to fresh shopping each week? That’s only four actions. Drinking more water, yes, every day but just simply drinking more water. Or just honoring one of the tools. Say honor am I hungry, am I full? Or dropping that sugary soda each day. Find a healthy replacement, an herbal tea or something else yummy, spritzy water, anything that you like, but dropping that sugary soda each day.

Or fresh air for 10 minutes. Could be a fresh air walk, could be just getting in the fresh air 10 minutes every day. Or start counting your steps. Add a thousand a week until you hit a place that you really know works for you, even when you have a lot of work on your plate you know this is a minimum. So for you it might be 5000. On a great day – a lot of people in the community are talking about 10,000 steps a day, but start where you are, add a thousand a week until you hit that place where you know that no matter what, you can get that many steps in a day.

The idea is almost to mind hack yourself in this space. Your brain wants to go big or go home, do all the things. I know I’m like that. And like achieving, I want to lose two pounds every week. Choosing any step that would help you to get some momentum in taking care of yourself here, something that you suspect, and this is where the mindset shift is, what is one thing that you could do every day that you suspect people that live in a body at their natural weight do?

Okay, so I notice that my thin husband really makes an effort to walk a certain amount of steps each day. Even though his hip hurts, he just commits to moving every day. And I even notice I will always feel better if I take my dog on a longer loop and make that my habit. Then without even thinking, of course my dog helps with this, he will go like, why aren’t we going all the way around? And it helps make it daily habit. It doesn’t seem like work.

Remember, when you set big goals and the results just don’t come fast enough for your amazing hardworking, high-achieving self, you create that fail cycle and resist taking action until you’re sick of it and start over all over again. This is all about taking a small action or small step that you have a hunch would make a difference for you. It’s personal. It really is. And it’s a no matter what for 10 minutes for 30 days.

Then it’s done without thinking and you can add something else. What’s amazing is that when we do things in this way, our brain is less prone to whine or be overwhelmed or offer negative thinking. It’s a mind hack for sure.

We can do anything for 10 minutes, right? Don’t be surprised if you’re doing more. Let the growth in this naturally happen. Awareness is so powerful. When we notice that we’re feeling like a failure or feeling guilt for something that we did, but what’s more powerful? Asking some great questions. Remember the solutions that I’ve offered you here today.

What would serve me well right now? What do I want to do here? Another is evaluating your results in a positive way. What worked? What didn’t? What will I do next time? What small action are you willing that you suspect would really serve you? What are you willing to do 10 minutes for 30 days? Let the magic begin.

Do you want more? I don’t have a specific worksheet for you today but if you’d like to dig in deeper, be sure to listen to the whole weight loss series that I lay out step by step starting with episode one. Each of the episodes have worksheets. Take your time and apply the steps before you move on to the next episode. Don’t just learn. Make sure you apply, and you’ll be surprised at the results.

This intuitive eating, these tools are so powerful that if you apply them even one little bit at a time, you’re going to see a difference. If you’re enjoying the podcast, be sure to submit a review, and better yet, share with your friends. I love welcoming new listeners like yourself. Thanks for being there. Until next week, have a great day.

Thank you for listening to this episode of Weight Loss for CEOs. If you enjoyed this episode and want more, visit dianamurphycoaching.com for Diana’s latest free coaching tools to get started losing weight without having to start a diet now.

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