Last week, I enjoyed a visit from a dear friend I haven’t seen in a long while. I love this woman, for (among other things) her sharp wit, her abundant love for my children and our shared obsession with fabulous food…and champagne! Let’s call her “Beth.” As often happens these days when anyone spends more than ten minutes with me, we got into a discussion about food and health. Beth was lamenting her need to lose several pounds and noting that she had very little energy, especially early in the day. I empathized with her….after all, these are things I hear fairly regularly from clients.
In the very next breath, perhaps to demonstrate that she’s not just passively accepting her fate, but rather is actively committed to achieving her goals, she began to rattle off a number of her eating habits, including always skipping breakfast “because she’s just not hungry in the morning” and often skipping lunch as well. It’s as if she were saying, “All this discipline and still no weight loss? The injustice of it all!” Hmmm.
I’m sure on some level she wanted me to say, “Well good for you, my friend! Just keep doing what you’re doing and I’m sure the weight will fall off any day now.” But, thinking back to how the conversation began, I simply asked, “Well, how is that working for you?”
And I was met with a surprised silence. Followed by a burst of laughter and the words “Well, I guess it’s NOT really, is it?!”
Remember? The whole conversation began with her talking about her discontent with the current state of affairs. With how desperately she wished she could look or feel better!
This disconnect between our perception of our behaviors and results those behaviors are actually giving us is really important. It’s where my work with clients often begins. Someone decides that a certain behavior (e.g. skipping breakfast) MUST be the way to lose weight. And she continues to repeat the behavior, even though it’s NOT delivering the results she wants, thinking that one day it will work! But when what you’re doing isn’t getting you the results you want, one of two things is happening. Either:
1) Your perception of your behaviors is distorted, or
2) Your behaviors aren’t actually serving your goals.
Let’s use Beth as an example. If she skips breakfast every day to save the calories, but then succumbs to the donuts in the break room or the pastry at Panera at 10AM because her body is literally starving, did she really skip breakfast? Or did she just delay it until she makes a convenient but unhealthy choice mid-morning?
Or, if she thinks that skipping breakfast is a good way to save calories, but doesn’t realize that this habit is putting her metabolism into a conservation mode and actually preventing her from burning calories (while robbing her of energy), is the practice really serving her weight loss goals?
Here’s the bottom line. If you’re not getting the results you want, maybe it’s time to take a harder look at your behaviors. Think about what you tell yourself you’re doing to be healthy. Then, look in the mirror and ask yourself, “How’s that working for you?”
PS – I’m happy to say that “Beth” reports she’s been eating breakfast every day since our visit, and she can’t believe how good it feels. She’s beginning to reconnect to the feelings of both hunger and satisfaction – and is now actually looking forward to that morning meal! Bravo! One simple change at a time…