Rather than start a new year with a resolution, I decided to make 2019 all about Re-Evaluation. In doing so, I decided to make two lists that I would re-evaluate every month: 1) Established Healthy Habits and 2) Behaviors I Want to Improve. Each month, I look at List #2 and prioritize a behavior I want to work on consistently to transition it up to List #1. I then ask myself these specific questions:
- What behavior isn’t working?
- How do I (finally) override unsuccessful attempts from the past at changing this behavior?
- How will I be able to do so independently?
- What thoughts or ideas will I have to change to make an impactful behavioral change?
- When will I know I’ve been successful?
In this blog post, I’m going to walk you through this month’s List #2 behavior: Mindless munching.
What behavior isn’t working?
Over the past few months, I started noticing a snacking habit begin to creep back into my life. When free dessert was around work, I would grab a slice. Well, technically I’d grab 1/2 a slice and justify my emotional eating with; “hey, it’s better than eating the whole thing!”… right?!
It wasn’t too long before late night snacking wanted to join in the party as well- especially when I was home alone watching Netflix with a freezer full of frozen chocolate squares, peanut butter coconut ice cream, and 3 different jars of pantry nut butters.
A nibble here, a nibble there. I mean, let’s face it- what’s a meal without a home-made nutter butter bar? Without a chocolatey top-off?
But who was I kidding, really. I could justify the portion sizes or the “rarity” of the occasion all I wanted. At the end of the day, it was mindless munching, and I was in denial of it.
How do I (finally) override unsuccessful attempts from the past at changing this behavior?
This wasn’t my first round of battling late night emotional eating. Unintentional eating is something I can trace back to my childhood. Dinner was always followed by something sweet and salty. Growing up, that meant ice cream and microwavable popcorn.
Acknowledging that my mindless munching habit had been carved into my relationship with food ever since I was a kid made me come to terms with the fact that this was going to take some serious work to truly straighten out.
How will I be able to do so independently?
I’ve been aware of my habit to mindlessly munch (at night) for almost 10 years. Clearly, trying to change this behavior independently has been anything but easy for me.
Yikes. When you actually type that out, it’s quite embarrassing to admit. TEN years?!
After contemplating how I should approach making a lasting behavioral change, I immediately thought about bringing in some competition. How could I make my intention to eat more mindfully, fun? How could I keep myself accountable?
I immediately thought of the Healthy Habiteer Facebook community.
The pieces came together during a particularly challenging upper body workout I was doing with a friend. The push-ups killed me! And then it clicked: twenty public push-ups for every act of mindless munching!
A sense of honesty, accountability, and loyalty to commitment immediately accompanied the Upper Body challenge for me. It was time to break this mindless munching for good! (HA!..said my brain- quite naively- on Day #1…)
I kid you not, by Day #3, I had accumulated a total of SIXTY push-ups!
I owned up and did my push-ups (publicly) and posted it to the Healthy Habiteer Facebook community. After admitting to doing 60 push-ups in less than 1 week, I began to immediately feel guilty and full of self-doubt. I’ll get real with you- I felt like a hypocrite!
How could I be an advocate for health and wellness when I was struggling with emotional eating myself?
I felt like a fraud.
What thoughts or ideas will I have to change to make an impactful behavioral change?
As I swished the words “fraud,” “hypocrite,” “guilty,” “self-doubt,” – and I’ll add one more- ”fear,” around in my head, I immediately felt sadness. I also felt defeated, helpless, and like a complete and utter failure.
Woah. Hang on!?! How did my mind and emotions just do a complete 180? Isn’t it fascinating how QUICKLY our negative thoughts can turn our mood against us?
Thankfully, I was quick to pick up on my brain’s pity party. I set an intention to take over control of my thoughts.
Why let these run-away (um.. untrue…!) thoughts sabotage my success? These words don’t define me! These words aren’t who I am! Heck, why not use them to break through my bad habits?
When will I know I’ve been successful?
In my opinion, I think success is achievable in two ways:
What do I mean?
When I’m at lunch and there’s a platter full of “special” / “home-made” / “celebratory”/ “free” / deliciousness tempting me to just eat it because it’s there and will make me feel better (*cough* mindless munching *cough*) I now think to myself; “What am I really serving myself with this dessert?”
- Is this act of mindless munching serving me a foundation of successful habit creation?
- Is this emotional eating serving me a positive mindset?
- Is this actually numbing an emotion I don’t want to feel?
- Or, is this behavior going to make me feel inadequate and self-loathing?
In one simple statement:
“Is this behavior going to HELP ME or HURT ME accomplish my health goals?”
When will I know I’ve been successful?
I’ll know I’m on the path to success when I start identifying my “Debbie Downer” thoughts as healthy habit self-sabotage.
Don’t worry- it’s 100% sane to have an internal dialogue with yourself that sounds something similar to my own; “Why … hello brain. I recognize your ‘Negative Nancy’ thoughts, and raise you 4 positive thoughts instead…”
- I CAN re-wire 30 years of ingrained late night mindless munching habits
- I CAN admit to making mistakes and not being perfect but still get up the next morning with an intention to try again
- I CAN admit that you -[my brain]- try to manipulate me and sometimes steer me down a self-destructive path
- I CAN admit that I am STRONGER than your thoughts
- and I absolutely CAN do one small thing consistently every single day- regardless of how small it may seem
If you’re like me…
and have some unhealthy habits to own up to (…60 public push-ups anyone?…), here’s my advice:
Accept the habits in your life that need real work.
Admission is not a sign of weakness- it won’t collapse and crumble you. Instead, it will make you STRONGER…
So acknowledge the presence of the destructive voices in your head, counter them with an intention to change, and DROP DOWN AND GIVE ME 60 PUSH-UPS!
You’ve got this!