Imagine a diet secret to make permanent changes in your health
OK, so I have more than one diet secret to share. Consider, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, where the late author, Stephen Covey advised readers to “begin with the end in mind.” Any endeavor starts with a clearly stated objective or outcome. You won’t get anywhere unless you know where you are going. You don’t pack for a trip without having a destination picked out.
A well-formed and clearly defined outcome is the first step toward success. The concept comes from Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), counselors, coaches, and therapists use this process to help their clients identify, establish and reach their goals. If you want to make a change for the better, start with a well-formed outcome.
Your well-formed outcome begins with a simple question: “What do you want?”
Diet Secret #1 – State your outcome in the positive
Start programming your mind for what you want or you will never get enough of what you don’t want. Your creative consciousness (sub-conscious for some or unconscious mind for others – I prefer creative consciousness) does not recognize what we call “negative” placeholders in language. Using words like: don’t, can’t, won’t, no, etc. creates the circumstances you likely weren’t aiming for.
I don’t want to get fat!
The brain does not recognize the negative placeholder “don’t”, so what it hears is…
I —- want to get fat!
Once you’ve formulated the outcome you choose, stop thinking about it as something you want. Instead, start thinking about it as something you have now or are creating now. The subconscious mind strictly literal. When you say “I want …” your creative consciousness mind hears “I lack …” To want something is to lack that thing. To create your outcome, speak of it as though you have it now, you choose to have it now, and you are creating it now. We call the creative (sub- or un-) conscious mind the goal-getter and the conscious mind the goal setter.
Diet Secret #2 – State your outcome in the present tense
Your outcomes are about what you are doing now and into future, regardless of what has happened in the past. Although it makes perfect sense that outcomes are about now and the future, some people continue to dwell on the past when thinking about what they want. Statements like, “I wish I hadn’t gained all that baby weight” or “I should have learned how to eat properly by now” aren’t well-formed outcomes. You can’t change the past, so put your attention and energies on what you can accomplish today, tomorrow, and from now on.
State your outcomes in the present tense, not the future tense. If you say “I will eat nutritious foods,” your subconscious hears “I will” and assumes the new behavior will occur sometime later, in the future, rather than now. It especially doesn’t hear that this is a priority if you are using future paced open-ended language.
I’ll start walking one day.
I’m going to cut back on my treats.
I will eat healthy meals.
Each of these statements says, not a priority, eventually, not now, down the road, perhaps – none of them creating the compulsion for change.
I start walking.
I’m cutting back on my treats.
I eat healthy meals.
By stating your outcome in the present tense, you notify your creative consciousness that your outcomes and new behaviors are taking place NOW! That this is your present and current reality.
Diet Secret #3 – Create weight loss goals around your own behaviors and feelings
Only you can change your mind. Only you can change your behavior. And only you can create your future. When it comes to weight loss, no one else can do it for you. Make certain that your outcomes are about changing your own emotions and behaviors, not about what someone else wants you to do, or what you want someone else to do. Statements like, “My partner goes to the gym with me” or “My family compliments my dedication” won’t work. Granted, your outcomes could include the steps you are taking to influence the behavior of those around you, and you could improve your communication skills to get more cooperation from others. Just remember, you cannot control others, so don’t base your success on what they do. Make your outcomes self-initiated and about you.
Diet Secret #4 – State your outcomes in specific terms
Your mind recognizes outcomes as accomplish-able when those outcomes are stated (and visualized) specifically. Specific outcomes are about observable, measurable behaviors and clearly defined emotional states. Avoid vague words like “more,” “less,” “some, ” etc.
I walk more.
I’m eating better.
I exercise occasionally.
Instead, make your outcomes specific by stating when, where, and how often you want them.
I walk 20 minutes daily.
I’m eating 3 balanced meals and choosing to avoid snacks.
I exercise by playing tennis twice a week.
The more precise and detailed you are, the better you’re able to connect with the outcome, the greater the likelihood of achieving your weight loss goals.
Diet Secret #5 – Make your outcomes realistic and achievable
Be careful about huge and grandiose outcomes. While some believe them to be a more motivating option, more often than not, they lead to disappointment, procrastination, and frustration. Set your sights on something more realistic and achievable. We’d all like to make a million dollars a year, look great in a bikini, and be as gorgeous as Grace Kelly (or maybe it’s just me). Reasonably, can you see yourself doing it? Whatever “it” is.
Focus your energy and attention on reaching a healthy weight and sticking with reasonable meal planning. You also want to make your time frames realistic. Give your body sufficient time to make adjustments. With weight reduction, shedding only one or two pounds a week is healthy and appropriate if you want to keep it off permanently.
And if you’re just starting an exercise program, start out with short, easy workouts and gradually build your strength and stamina to avoid fatigue, injury, or burn out. Select something you enjoy that you will look forward to. Selecting an ass-kicking boot-camp may not be the best bet for you right out the gate. Exercise should never make you want to cry… just saying.
Diet Secret #6 – State your outcomes without equivocation
Equivocation is a hedge, it says “I’m willing to fail” or “I don’t really want to.” Avoid halfhearted statements like “Well, I guess I might exercise some more when I get around to it.” Halfhearted statements will not get you to the success you seek. A well-formed outcome is stated affirmatively, without any hemming, hawing or hedging. And don’t tell me you’re “trying” – just do it!
An “ecological” outcome is safe, appropriate and realistic for you. It doesn’t conflict with your needs or values. If you choose an outcome that isn’t ecological, it won’t feel right. You won’t stick with it, or you’ll engage in self-sabotage. Don’t commit to any outcome until you’ve checked in with yourself. Go inside and identify in feeling, belief, and behavior whether or not you can commit to this course of action. If you feel vaguely ambivalent about the outcome you’ve decided on, then you may need to modify the outcome. Ask yourself, “Am I willing to do what it takes?” and “Is it worth it?” Every significant life choice carries a cost, a sacrifice, or a trade-off. Each new commitment you make means you will forfeit other choices and opportunities in exchange for what you say you want.
Diet Secret #7 – Make your outcomes congruent with who you are
In the world of NLP, we call it choosing your “Chunk size”. It’s an important motivation factor in how you define an outcome. Chunk size is your perception of whether your outcome seems too large to undertake, too small to be significant, or just right so that it seems doable and worthwhile. If your outcome is well-formed but seems daunting or unrealistic, you’re thinking too big.
I lose 25 pounds in the next month.
I spend 3 hours a day walking.
And I only eat low-fat, no-carb, gluten-free, non-GMO, organic… at every meal.
Each of these statements is a huge chunk – together, they make me uncomfortable and I’m only using them as an example. They feel overwhelming and unreasonable.
If your outcome is well-formed but seems too easy – a cake walk, then you’re thinking too small. Chunk up to see the bigger picture and long-term, cumulative benefits and meanings that tie in with your values.
I lose 2 pounds in the next 90 days.
I spend 3 hours a month walking.
And I only eat low-fat, no-carb, gluten-free, non-GMO, organic once a week.
None of these is a stretch. If it’s comfortable, you’re already doing it – that’s not going to help you change. Your goals should be a comfortable stretch, meaning doable, and you know you’re doing it. Growth and change happen outside your comfort zone.