Do you live your life constantly “on” or “off” a diet? Are you always setting weight loss goals and then attempting to apply some kind of structure to your life to achieve them? Being able to let go of the dieting paradigm may be the biggest breakthrough some people make.
I became a commodities broker back in 2006. The job entails getting people to open commodity trading accounts. I’d never sold anything before and I’d never worked in finance so how I was going to do this was wide open. I was also the only woman at the firm and the only person in their forties. The owners were in their early thirties and all the other brokers were young guys except for a few older men. In my first year, I opened more accounts in less time than anyone at the firm, ever. When I launched my own website, I opened even more accounts and with much less effort.
The other brokers all set goals and thought about being motivated. They’d put pictures of cars and boats on their bulletin boards along with goofy stuff like images of lighting cigars with a $100 bill. They’d talk a lot about what they were going to do with all the money they thought they’d make in the market. They’d brag that they’d write ten new accounts a month and bring in $100K account equity or more. The room where most of the guys worked the phones had a big poster of a thermometer to log how much money they were bringing in. The owner threatened to release any broker who didn’t bring in six figures. He had his assistant make a giant $100,000 bill that each broker posted over his desk.
None of it worked. I had about 100 accounts and the other brokers each had just a few, if any. What did I do differently?
I didn’t set any goals. I didn’t do anything in particular to “motivate” myself. I determined that what I needed to do every day was make contact with people and have good conversations with them so that’s what I worked at doing. Every day, all day, with no particular plan for how many accounts I hoped to close or how much equity they’d total up to by the end of the month. And I ended up smokin’ everybody.
I’ve devoted a great deal of soul searching and thought processing to figuring out why I failed to lose weight for so many years of my life. I’ve realized that DIETING itself was a major factor. Applying some particular goal to a timeframe served to make me desperate and I’d feel like a huge failure if I didn’t make the goal. Goal-setting is not motivational for me; it makes me stressed. But I made a far more critical connection. I accepted that permanent weight management was going to require that I eat in a health-supporting way for the rest of my life. I knew I couldn’t be “on” a diet forever because I thought of that as something that had a beginning and an end. Making it all worse, when I was “off” the diet, I’d usually eat very indulgently in preparation for when I’d go back “on” a diet.
All this stopping and starting kept me in a cycle of failure. I had to let go of it. Eating every day needed to be just a normal thing. So I stopped thinking in terms of any kind of “program” or timeframe. I just got through a day. And the next day, I’d do it again. And then again. It took a while before it started to feel like the new normal but the more days you put behind you, the sooner you get there.
One of the toughest obstacles was letting go of the significance of particular days. I used to think of the weekend as the “off” time. If I’d been “good” all week, I would weigh on Saturday morning and then eat whatever I wanted all weekend. I’d convinced myself that Monday was always official “start a diet” day. Then I realized that I had to let the weekend be like the rest of the week, nothing special. Just another couple of days. I also let go of the beginning and ending of the month. I used to think of the first of the month as the time to go “on” a diet so I’d let myself eat like crazy in the last few days of the previous month.
The effect was also a significant reduction in binge behavior and indulgent eating. If I was never on a diet, there were never any “forbidden” foods and I found I could let go of them, too. I stopped thinking I had to eat something just because as soon as the diet was “on,” I couldn’t eat it anymore. When I did that, I started to stress much less about what I did or did not eat. I accepted that those indulgent foods would always be there; they weren’t going anywhere. I could eat them another day, it didn’t have to be today. That “another day” would stretch farther and farther into the future until it didn’t matter much anymore. If I got through a day, I wouldn’t care by the next day.
I never plan that I will or won’t eat anything in particular, like if I will be attending a party or an event. I might go to the event and just chat with people all night. I got rid of “cheat meals” and treats and “eating in moderation.” I just eat what I know I should in a given day. I keep it very simple: Whole grains at breakfast, vegetables for lunch and dinner, fruit for snacks.
There is no plan. There is just right now.