Let’s say you’ve mapped out your menus for the week, shopped for food, even prepped the veggies ahead of time. You’ve planned to get to bed early and scheduled a couple of walks for exercise. But then a relative has a health issue you need to attend to, you have a new demanding work project, or you and your partner argue about something.
Having a serotonin-boosting snack like a serving of comforting oatmeal, a dish of crunchy Multigrain Square breakfast cereal, or a chocolate Vitalicious muffin top then waiting 20 or 30 minutes can help you feel calm and well equipped to handle everything.
But sometimes you still might feel the urge to eat things you hadn’t planned. For example, in response to these unexpected occurrences, you decide to bake – and then eat – chocolate chip cookies knowing they’ll derail your diet. You think you can’t help yourself and maybe even tell yourself it’s just what happens every time you’re stressed or overwhelmed.
We often do these things with awareness, yet do them anyway despite really wanting to achieve the goal we’ve set out to achieve. And then we criticize ourselves and the cycle continues. We get it! And it’s so important not to judge yourself. Instead, let’s look at what might be going on and how to establish different patterns.
The Gap Between Your Goal and Where You Are Can be Daunting
Isn’t the goal motivating enough to change your behavior? After all, aren’t thoughts of hiking with friends and not getting out of breath or enjoying shopping again enough to keep you from the cookies?
The problem is that visualizing the goal can backfire if doing so highlights the gap between where you are now and what you’re aiming for. This can lead to doubt, being critical of yourself, and self-sabotage.
You Can Use Imagery to Overcome a Challenge in the Moment
So what’s the solution? Using imagery to create a solution to the immediate situation – and acknowledging ahead of time that you’re going to run into challenges. Sure, you can keep your eye on your ultimate weight loss goal, but you’ll have more success if you can prepare for and overcome the roadblocks along the way.
Let’s say you notice you think about baking cookies when you’re overwhelmed and think nobody is concerned with you. That’s great data. And it might be a common feeling for you. A solution, then, is to anticipate that you’re going to feel that way again and decide ahead of time how you’re going to respond. Without judgement, decide to respond in a way that is compatible with your ultimate weight loss goal.
Prepare Your Plan Ahead of Time
This is where imagery comes in. You anticipate feeling overwhelmed and needing some support. You may decide to write in a journal, call a supportive friend, watch a tv show, or go for a walk. Resistance to breaking habits and discomfort with difficult emotions are common. But the more you can imagine yourself doing the thing that will support your long term goal, the easier it will be to make that a new habit.
Ultimately, the alternative response will offer a positive, accessible, and immediate reward that is in keeping with achieving your long term goal.
Imagery Can Give you Confidence to Fact Your Challenges
Too often we aim for lofty goals with an idealized path to get there. We know achieving a goal is not always easy, but we tend to ignore what specifically will be hard for us. Imagery of what the actual obstacles will be and what we tend to do when we run into our personal challenge areas allows for a concrete plan to overcome the obstacles.
Yes, serotonin-boosting snacks and meals can help. But it’s not always easy to follow through with an alternative plan and break familiar habits. But using imagery to formulate a specific action in response to a specific obstacle can give you clarity about what actions will support your goal, confidence to follow through, and, ultimately, the success you’re aiming for.
If you’d like support and guidance to overcome obstacles and reach your weight loss and wellness goals, we can help: we’re here for you! We invite you to sign up for a complimentary consultation to learn more.Vit