Today's post is a topic I am very passionate about.
Why is it so hard? Why is it that being disciplined is so difficult especially when it comes to our food?
Why is it that some people make being disciplined look easy when for others it is a constant struggle?
The easy answer and probably the most over used answer you will get is that it all comes down to practice and habit. Right? Its all about breaking bad habits and replacing them with good ones and if you just stick with it long enough then you will cross the finish line and all the sudden you will be a disciplined person and everything will come easily for you.
Honestly, I used to buy into that, but that didn't explain why so many people who seemed to be disciplined could crash and burn so easily sliding back into old habits. There had to be more to the story and so I made it my mission to dig deeper to try to get to the root cause of why being disciplined especially over long periods of time or even a lifetime seems so difficult for so many (including myself at times). The answers I have found through my own research, study, and practice have really changed the way I live my life and certainly have changed the way I coach.
The reason I believe it is so difficult is that in focusing solely on habits and actions we are completely forgetting that we are thinking, feeling, emotional beings. Emotions are overpowering and what I have found in my own practice and in my personal life is that emotions will win out over habit every single time.
Why is it so hard to say no to that cheeseburger and fries, or that soft drink, or that beer, or that Starbucks concoction? Because most of the time we have an emotional connection to that food. We aren't just eating it because we are hungry. We are eating it because of the satisfaction or the relief it brings us. The food or treat or snack we are eating is helping us to cope with stress, worry, anxiety, anger, sadness, and a number of other possible emotions that we may be feeling at any given time.
Unfortunately, no matter how good we are with habit and ritual our emotions can derail us every single time.
So how then do we move forward? How do we deal with this? The answer is that we have to start addressing the emotions themselves. The excess eating, drinking, etc is only a symptom of emotions that are out of control. If we can control the emotions then we regain control over our behaviors.
The thing to understand here is that emotions are simply your body's way of expressing a need. When we don't eat we get hungry. Hunger is our bodies way of expressing a physical need, but we have a lot of emotional needs too. When we fail to fulfill our emotional needs then our body responds with a storm of emotions and those emotions drive behaviors.
So when you are looking at the menu, or walking the grocery aisles at the store , or staring into your pantry and your emotions are welling up and guiding your hand toward food that your logical mind would know you don't really need or want what the hell are you supposed to do? You need to start asking yourself why? Why am I feeling this emotion? Why am I feeling stressed? Why am I feeling inadequate? Why am I feeling sad? What emotional need am I neglecting that is causing these emotions?
If you can start to ask yourself these kinds of questions and make it your mission to understand what needs aren't being fulfilled and start addressing those gaps then all of the sudden when your in those situations you won't be burdened down with the emotions and you will find yourself in control.
I apologize again for the long post, but this entire conversation is exactly why I have transitioned away from being solely a fitness and nutrition coach to being more of a life coach. Most people know deep down what to do, but they can't get past the emotions that are driving their behaviors. They don't understand that there are a host of emotional and psychological needs that they may not even know are going unfulfilled and driving negative emotions and behaviors as a result.
My mission is to help everyone I can to learn how to make sure that their needs are fulfilled so that they can live a disciplined life with the freedom to achieve anything they desire.
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