By Dietitian Jill Place
I was in session with a client. When I discovered these six surefire leaps toward change … any change.
She was concerned about upcoming Halloween goodies. “I eat all the candy … and then eat some more … “, she said. “And want to figure out a way to not do that this year.”
Now I’ve been working with this woman on weight loss … and she’s doing very well with it. And this was a real concern … albeit a frightening one …for her.
“So”, I said, “what are you planning to do about that?” Which brings me to …
LEAP ONE: What’s the Challenge?
Let me back up here a bit and explain why I call them “leaps”. Number one … I always talk about steps toward something. Which is all well and good except it dawned on me that “steps” was kinda mamby-pamby here.
Y’know the picture of the fish jumping from the bowl not knowing where she’s going to go? I actually prefer this one … the goldfish jumping from the bowl with no other in sight buoyed up by a red balloon.
THAT’S a leap to me! It’s like the story in the beginning of Richard Bach’s book, Illusions. The creature stops clinging to the rocks like the others of his kind, gets buffeted by the rocks, and is finally floating free in the river foam.
Downstream those like him cry, “See the Messiah come to save us all!” And he says, “I am no more Messiah than you. The river delights to lift us free, if only we dare let go …”
So I’m asking you …what will make you leap from an existence that doesn't work for you?Click To Tweet
So you gotta ask yourself … “What’s the challenge?” … what things bother you enough to DO something about it? Actually … just start with one thing. Otherwise you’ll get overwhelmed.
My client had a backslide last week. Turns out that the challenge was NOT Halloween at all but something even deeper … embarrassment about the way she eats. Which brings us to …
LEAP TWO: Why is this Such a Challenge?
The backslide for my client kept on into this week. She almost totally shut down but fortunately … yesterday … asked for help.
Because … obviously … we hadn’t explored the “WHY” enough … WHY is this such problem for you?
The “WHY” could be as simple as “it’s a habit”. That would be great! But obviously that’s not what’s happening here. My client’s “WHY” is obviously more complicated than that.
And needs to be unraveled. Therefore … if that’s where you’re at … you want to get some kind of book to write your thoughts in … it could be as simple as a composition book (y’know … the ones we had as kids … am I dating myself?) or fabulous as a flower-bedecked journal (mine has a leather binding).
Then choose a pen that has some kind of significance to you (i.e. NOT a BIC stick) … mine are colored-ink disposable fountain pens (fountain pens were a HUGE status symbol for me growing up). And get ready to do some work …
Now do this process …
And write down your “WHYS” as fast as you can without thinking a lot about them. Your answers may be something like this: (a) I’m scared because I’ve never been successful changing the way I ate before, (b) my mom criticized my weight growing up, or (c) I was bullied at school because of my weight.
All these may have been true THEN. Then … after each …write “Is that true now?” and answer it.
The more you can question in this way, and the deeper you can go, the more you can become aware that the way you feel is a choice you’ve made at some point. Even though you can’t remember when or why you originally made it.
Sooner or later, you may feel that you don’t know why you feel that way anymore. Or that feeling that way may be a natural thing. You may even be thinking, “Enough already!”. Then it’s time for …
LEAP THREE: How Can it be Different THIS Time?
You can’t do this leap without the first two … that’s my theory behind why most diets fail. We skip right to this part without a thought about the “what” or the “why”.
Those of you who have dieted know what I mean! The best way to figure out this “how” is to either to write about it or visualize it.
So grab your pen and paper and describe in detail how this is going to be different for you. Describe what the environment, you in the environment, and anyone else in the environment looks like. Bring in your senses … talk not only about what you see but possibly what you hear, touch, smell and taste.
Another way to do this is by guided imagery … the method I prefer. The mind doesn’t know the difference between reality and the suggestions you put into it. Do this often enough and you’ll convince your unconscious that this difference is actually possible.
I love this process called “rehearsal technique”. It’s been used for decades by athletes to mentally prepare for events. Let’s try it together …
Now do this process …
Find a comfortable chair with a straight back and sit with your back supported by the chair. Then feel the sensation of your body resting in the chair. Feel how the chair supports you, and how solid you feel … first on your back, then your seat, then your feet.
Feel the sensation of the surfaces that your body … and your clothing … are touching. Take a few deep breaths in and out, noticing how your breath feels in your body as you do. Notice the sensation of the breath.
Now Imagine that you are sitting in a movie theater watching a movie of yourself doing whatever you want to do differently. See yourself and if others are in the picture, add them. Add every single detail of the event that you can think of … see it, hear it, smell it, taste. It.
Then visualize yourself walking up to the movie screen and entering the movie via a door. Go through the whole process again but this time you will experience the same event from inside of yourself as you would normally experience something. Don’t forget to bring in the sensations of seeing, hearing, touching, smelling, and tasting.
Now walk from the screen back to your seat in the theatre while the movie is still playing. Then reach out and grab the screen and visualize shrinking it down or shaping it with your hands until it’s a tiny little screen. Put this miniature screen inside of your mouth, chew it well, and then swallow.
After chewing, imagine all of the pieces of the screen traveling around your body and into your bloodstream with the movie still playing on each piece.
LEAP FOUR: Three Steps to Make it Different
Again … another important step … writing down three ways that you envision this happening in your life. Becauseyou can't DO different if you don't plan it.Click To Tweet
You may have gotten a hint from the process or when you journaled in the last leap. Do this process again if it’ll help. But this is easy … just jot down three steps that you see as possible for your particular situation.
My client … we decided today that … despite the struggle she’s been having … to just record everything she eats … even if she binges (1). We also decided that it’s time that she told those whose give her negative feedback on her progress that she didn’t want to hear it anymore (2). And also to structure her meals to minimize her hypoglycemia (3).
LEAP FIVE: How Can You Make Those Steps Happen?
It’s all well and good that you figure out those ways to how to make things different. But you also have to figure out how to put them into your daily routine.
For example, my client is recording everything she eats with the app connected to my virtual practice. If you want to do the same, there are basic apps like See How You Eat to take pictures of and make notes about what you eat … it’s a great confront tool. Even if you’re not working with me or anyone else.
But … again … make this suit YOUR particular situation. I recently began a 30-day challenge. I’m working out an hour a day … doing intermittent fasting … and journaling 30 minutes.
Yes … it’s not enough to just say I’m doing these things … I actually have to DO them. And I’m not used to doing all of them at once. So I made a cute 30-day check-off list on Canva (an online graphics site). And posted it on my fridge. I’ve checked off two days so far.
But just doing all that won’t get you off you’re keester. I’m committed. Perhaps I’ve gotten over the fact that I’ve said all my life … “I’m not physical!” Perhaps I’m just fed up with COVID and sitting in front of a computer all day … we’ll see!
Which brings us to …
LEAP SIX: Tracking Your Progress
That’s what I am doing to track my progress. My client is tracking hers by … whether she eats in a way she approves of or not … entering everything that she eats on my app.
Again … this is individual depending upon your own preferences. Or how well you can stretch the limits of your creativity.
So you can just make a simple check-off list for however many days you’re planning on doing this (I figure if I do this regime for 30 days it’ll become a habit and I’ll continue doing it). Also … you might want to read the four articles companion articles ending with Finishing YOUR Health Self-Experiment (the links are all in the first paragraph of this article) and downloading and completing the worksheet.
Whatever you do … track your progress. It’ll keep you real about whatever challenge you’re facing. If you’re so inclined … you might picture yourself as the hero in your favorite video game … beating the enemy and leaping tall buildings in a single bound. Whaddaya think?