I was thinking about my own rationalizations around habits recently, and remembered a letter I sent out 10 years ago that really touched on this subject.  I wanted to go back to it here, as so many patients I speak with are dealing with the same issue of thought barriers and rationalizations when it comes to making healthy changes.

What is it that allows us to take our focus off our desire for successful weight loss and better health? We all share the hope to be optimally healthy, yet, in a flash, our minds come up with some pretty ‘acceptable’ rationalizations. Many people have found these rationalizations to be exceptionally apparent during the time of COVID-19.  Through this pandemic, our world has had to shift, and with that comes changes that aren’t always easy or comfortable.

Some examples of rationalizations could be:

“I’ve worked so hard all day, I deserve this.”
“My life is so crazy, I only have time for take-out.”
“It’s a shame to waste food.”
“It’s Friday night.”
“I’m so exhausted; I can’t handle cooking.”
“I paid for it, I’m eating it.”
“I need wine with dinner every night because it helps me de-stress.”
“I’ll make it up tomorrow.”
“Writing down my foods would be another chore on my already long list.”
“I’ll get back on track Monday.”
“Snacking is the only outlet I have during the day.”

Do any of these ring true?

For starters, awareness is essential. Since our defensive barriers undermine our ability to change old habits, recognizing them is a fundamental step toward lasting success. It’s impossible to change any habit successfully without coming face-to-face with your defensive barriers. If they go unrecognized, they will prevent you from achieving your goals, and you may never know why you failed.

Exercise thought control. You consciously will learn to recognize a negative or unproductive thought and immediately replace it with a positive and productive one. If you’re thinking, “It’s Friday, I can eat what I want after a hard week,” substitute that thought with a conscious statement such as: “I want to be healthy and fit, and every day when I make conscious choices, I’m getting closer to my goal. So, I’ll fuel with good food, and do something physical to give me some endorphins.”

Always understand that you are in control of your thinking. Develop a strong dialogue with yourself. The ‘old you’ will react to food situations with immediate impulse. The ‘new you’ will begin to think about whether you really need that food. You will learn to choose better options, make healthier choices, and listen to what is important for you, and not what others determine is important for you.

Become your own cheerleader! This is YOUR journey, and each small success empowers you.

You can do it.

Keep on trying and never give up!

Dr. Doug