One of the biggest challenges in making any change is finding the time to do all the necessary steps toward making that change. Forming new habits requires focus and attention. In fact it might be the toughest part for some when it comes to weight loss, but it really applies to any goal. It requires us to put the attention on ourselves more each day and to prioritize certain behaviors that might make us feel uncomfortable. It adds to our already large list of To Do’s. And so, sometimes that can feel pretty stressful.
Before I began this journey, I worried about whether I could make the time to prepare and shop for the right food, remaining consistent, to insure I would execute all the steps necessary for success.
Too often, life gets in the way…the last thing we want is another obligation or commitment. Especially if it’s a promise we’re making to ourselves. We often prioritize everyone else, because that’s what a good person does, right? I was raised Catholic, and so from an early age it was ingrained…you put others before yourself, you think of others, you give to others before you give to yourself. Anything less is selfish, right?
I no longer believe that, because I’ve had the experience over time that I’m actually in a much better place to more fully be of service when I’m taking care of my own needs. You can’t really be there for others when you’re feeling depleted, depressed or worse, not taking care of yourself and ending up ill. In fact, everyone may be getting less of you because you’re NOT focusing on giving more to you.
Getting thin, on the surface, might feel a bit narcissistic or shallow or vain. However, my goal isn’t about being model thin. It’s about being more fully in my body, living longer, and doing more of what this body was designed to do, which is be active and live a full life without recriminations or feeling any thing less than my best self.
I believe that giving is better than receiving, and I also believe it’s important that we put ourselves on the list to receive care…self care. I suggest there’s a new way to approach this, that will make the whole notion of taking time for ourselves much less stressful and guilt free.
So, how do we begin to shift our lizard brain into a better place about this? How do we create a space with less overwhelm, and less guilt that allows us to keep our promises to ourselves with as high a priority as being there for others?
The answer lies in learning to come from a place of abundance. When we look at the world through the eyes of “not enough,” everything is diminished. Our time, our energy, our finances, and even our weight loss efforts. Not enough. How often do you decide you’re not enough or that you don’t have enough?
I am a big believer that thoughts become things. We shape our reality in deep and powerful ways. That’s not to say we should all be running around constantly happy and joyful and full of optimism—I mean, maybe that’s possible for some, but I’m still working on it.
There’s a reason for the cynic. We’ve all experienced disappointment, our hopes and dreams dashed on the rocks. We’ve all had our setbacks, some of us more than others. But the impact has nothing to do with what actually happened. It is in fact all about what we tell ourselves as a result. Consider the possibility of giving the Universe the benefit of the doubt, by thinking about a very basic scientific law: Energy is neither created nor destroyed. We already have everything we need. Like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, you really have everything you always needed in order to do what you’re meant to be doing. It’s why that film, in my opinion, stands the test of time. Underneath all the gunk we deal with every day, there is a hope that we will prevail and do so with abundance and peace.
Consider this an experiment: What if by simply beginning to think in this direction, things will actually feel bigger, like there’s more instead of less. What if the reason you’re not achieving your goals or the reason you’re feeling stressed is all about your perception? What if it really was possible to have a life that isn’t riddled with time crunches and scarcity? What if we could be present to all of it with the knowledge that, in the end, the Universe (God or whatever you believe in) has your back?
We all make sacrifices, whether it’s for our job, our kids or our partners. We’re used to not getting everything we want. We are constantly making assessments, judging outcomes and ultimately storing it away in our lizard brains, declaring “THIS IS HOW IT IS.”
But what if the lizard is exactly why you aren’t reaching your goal? One of my favorite quotes comes from American Pastor Robert Schuller:
“What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?”
I know my lizard brain doesn’t get that. When you think about it, isn’t that why we often abandon our goal to get thin and strong? Or perhaps we don’t even want to try again? Because, what will be different? Because, who wants yet another disappointment or failure?
I mean, let’s look at the evidence: We’ve tried it before and life got in the way. S*#t happened, and we failed, or we gained it all back. Something slipped through the cracks, and left us tired, angry, and, in my case even more overweight than before. We don’t want to be disappointed again. And this is why we may be hesitant to fully commit to taking the time to prepare or form new habits, or try something different. It’s effort and time, and if it doesn’t pay off, it will be time wasted and even worse, tragically disappointing. It will be yet another failure.
So here’s what I propose, a Jedi mind trick if you will, because, I don’t expect my or your lizard brain to believe the hype. Think about the times you’re most resistant to making time for yourself or doing it differently. In those moments what runs through your mind? Too busy? Too tired? Now, dig a little deeper. Think about Schuller’s quote…how might those thoughts be different if, in those moments, you tried on the possibility that you would not fail? That in fact your success is guaranteed if you follow the guidelines and simply take time out to plan and prepare. That there is enough time in the day to do all the things you deem important. And yes, there may be moments when you slip or slide or completely explode. But you get back up, with the knowledge that you can’t fail. You simply need to course correct and begin again. Just maybe there is enough of you and enough time to accomplish all that you desire.
Maybe things go over the cliff when you get on the scale and don’t see a consistent result. This week I only lost a pound, and I’ve been doing everything right. My lizard brain starts yammering away about how this isn’t working, how it’s all not worth it, blah blah blah. Never mind that I’m standing on a pile of evidence that screams real results. That I’ve lost 41 pounds in 3.5 months. The lizard is stubborn. So I’m working on this whole optimism thing too. The scale is NOT the most accurate indication every weigh in. Inches are melting away and I’m 2 sizes down from where I was on October 1. Take that little lizard.
My never-ending mantra has been “This is not about perfection, it’s about determination.” So back to you. Try on this idea that it will all work out. Like anything, it will take practice. It will require you to learn to tuck your lizard away in your moments of weakness and focus on the shiny bauble. That shiny bauble is the vision of you getting to your goal. It’s about surrendering and trusting the process. And no, you are not the exception—it is possible for you to get the result. Your lizard is wrong, and you can help silence him by putting all the thoughts, negative and positive, out in the open. You can literally weigh the evidence—write it, find your supportive tribe, or meditate or do all three—whatever works for you in order to create a little Jedi mind magic.
You can also defer a little gratification. Lizard loves instant gratification. But lizard is limited in his thinking. He wants what he wants. The lizard’s perception and vision is woefully limited. You can see much farther. You’ve got vision that’s bigger than your immediate surroundings. And those goals that are in the distance? They’re much bigger than that one moment of instant gratification. You tell your lizard, Not Now. Your lizard is really just trying to survive. That’s all he’s about. He doesn’t care whether you lose weight. He just needs to get through another day and he likes things to be predictable. But you? You need more than just to get through another day. You want joy, you want a little magic. You want romance and fun and new experiences. And you’ve been given a brain and a heart and the courage (yep I love the Wizard of Oz) to dream big.
So, gently, but firmly, try on the belief that you simply need to stay on the road. That you will get to Oz, you will get to goal, and you deserve to have your dreams come true. And be willing to make you and what you want important.
“What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?”
Re-train your brain and watch what happens.