“I hope it works!”

…are four words that will keep you stuck. Keep you from losing weight. From enjoying food and having the body you want.

“Hope is not a strategy” is famously used in business and politics. I want to bring it to a personal level.

When a client says to me “I hope it works” what she’s saying is she hopes the strategy will work. That she’ll lose weight.

Hoping “it” will work is giving your power to the thing. It. The thing you think will get you results. That is, the plan, program or process.

Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

The truth is, many things will work. Seriously, many. You could go vegan, paleo, do CrossFit®, go to a gym, workout at home, run, swim, do yoga, eat out, not eat out, drink alcohol, or not. Figuring out what will work for you is simple. It requires experimentation, fine-tuning and consistency. Repeat. Multiple times.

Hope does not get the result. You get the result. You following through with the experimenting, the fine-tuning and being consistent. Even when you don’t feel like it. Even when it’s hard and you feel like quitting. That’s where results come. Not from “it.”

“Aren’t you just playing with semantics, Heather?” Of course! Because words matter.

Here’s what I mean. How do you feel when you say “I hope it works”? Do you feel motivated and confident? Or do you feel desperate, maybe anxious? You want to cultivate the feelings that will lead to follow through. Even when part of you doesn’t want to.

One definition of hope is “a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.” Did you catch that last part? A certain thing to happen. As though maybe you’ll be lucky, maybe you won’t. When we hope for something to happen, it indicates a certain passivity. Like we’re at the mercy of something outside ourselves.

What I really want you to know is this: You make it happen. The ability to enjoy food AND have the body you want is completely up to you. You can hope, but it’s got to be backed up with thoughts that generate action. Action that gets the result. The result you want.

You are capable of so much. Believing that will take you much further than hope.

Do your decisions feel like a chore or a choice?

A blog popped into my inbox last month from my colleague Conni Medina titled Choose Your Words Wisely. I recently wrote about elevating the conversations we have with ourselves so I eagerly read her piece. Spot on.

Her focus was on a particular set of words, those that hint at obligation rather than choice, like “should” and “have to.”  These are words I hear in every coaching call. In every prospect call. In almost every conversation I have with myself and others. We say them without question.

Many years ago, I trained with a Registered Dietician to learn nutrition and intuitive eating concepts. She told a story of finishing with her last patient of the day and as they left together, she casually said “I have to go to the gym.” Her patient, wheelchair-bound, said “you don’t have to go to the gym; you get to go to the gym.”

Consider the times you say those words:

  • I have to cook dinner for my family
  • I shouldn’t eat any more
  • I should exercise

Can we say drudgery? Deprivation?

But what if we change those around:

  • I choose to cook dinner for my family
  • I’ve decided to stop eating when I’m satiated
  • I’ve committed to regular exercise

When we use the language of choice, we use the language of freedom. And our brains like that much better than feeling forced to do something. But as Conni wrote, sometimes feeling obligated may indicate that you’re over-committed or doing things you don’t enjoy. How do you know the difference?

Photo by Javier Allegue Barros on Unsplash

Ask yourself and trust the answer. For example, would you commit to the project/position/task all over again? Would you bow out if given the opportunity? Would you make a difference choice today?

You don’t “have to” do anything. Sure, there are consequences to not doing the thing (like paying taxes), but be honest with yourself that it’s a choice.

Once you identify what you genuinely don’t want to do anymore, consider how you can remove yourself from those duties.

For the others, be purposeful with your words. Use the language of choice. You’ll notice an entirely different relationship to the tasks. Doing the things becomes easier. In some cases, effortless.

Wouldn’t it be amazing if losing weight and keeping it off, felt more effortless? It can be. Let’s talk!

A simple shift to effortlessly elevate your self-talk

I was quite impressed by a keynote speaker a few years ago, Dr. Rosalie de Rossett. And get this. Her entire presentation, all four sessions, was scripted out. Now, her eyes weren’t glued to the pages in front of her. She easily engaged with the audience while following her script. She was a pro.

During one of her sessions, she brought it up that people often ask why she does this. I LOVED her response.

“Because words matter.”

Do they ever. And while the context, of Dr. de Rossett’s comments, was words meant for an external audience, I see them just as relevant to an internal audience of one.

I observe women thoughtlessly throwing words around that are hurtful and unhelpful. They belittle their bodies. They doubt their abilities. They think so little of their own needs.

We could all spend months or years digging into why we do this. But is it necessary? For some, yes. Having a trained therapist walk with you to heal from past trauma is a beautiful thing.

Sometimes though, the why is simply this: You have a human brain that resists change. That is trained to look for what could go wrong. That wants you to do what’s easy, avoid pain and seek pleasure. When you recognize this is what you’re up against, you can start watching your thoughts and deliberately choose to retrain your brain.

This is easier said than done, which is why coaching is so helpful. Bob Nardelli, former CEO of Home Depot said, “I absolutely believe that people, unless coached, never reach their maximum capabilities.” I have experienced this in my own life and seen it happen in the lives of my clients.

I observe most people keep trying the same thing. They think this time will be different because they’ll use more willpower. Or because circumstances have changed. But it isn’t different because it’s their brain that must change.

Let’s say you want to lose weight. Start with a simple shift to elevate your self-talk:

  1. Notice the unhelpful thing you say to yourself most often. Like, “I can never stick with it.”
  2. Shift the thought ever so slightly to “maybe I can stick with it.”
  3. Every time the first thought pops up, purposely replace it with your new one. Repeat the new one over and over. And over.

This is a small first step in shifting your behavior – because your behavior will always flow from your thoughts. Always.

We know for certain that we can change our brains. No doubt about it. But it’s not easy. It’s not overnight. It looks like small steps, daily, weekly, monthly, until soon you’re enjoying food, loving life and easily maintaining your ideal weight.

Yeah. That’s how it happens.

Stay tuned for a follow up post on Do Your Decisions Feel Like a Chore?

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