If you feel a hole inside of you, “eat less” likely won’t work as a sustainable program.
If you feel the weight of life, “exercise more” likely won’t work as a sustainable program.
The emotional component is the keystone.
Unsurprisingly, when we are more fulfilled we eat fewer kilocalories naturally. I know this firsthand. My most productive weeks ever, I have a hard time fitting in ENOUGH food, not just because of busyness, but because I don’t yearn to fill a void.
Likewise, when we look forward to days, physical effort is natural. It isn’t an additional burden.
Clients who face this truth do amazing things. They START with an evaluation of how to enjoy the rest of their lives, especially their work environments, and from this positive emotional state they flourish. Those who neglect to change the overall flow of life and mindset, they continue to artificially bolt-on exercise and nutrition in an arduous way. Sometimes through sheer power of grit people will still make headway without revising the workspace and headspace. But mostly they won’t.
It’s so obvious yet so overlooked. Our emotional state can categorize the exact same healthy behaviors as stress-relief or as overwhelm. This is why calories in versus calories out isn’t an explanation. It’s a description. Sure. But it isn’t explanatory in the least. How will you eat less and move more when you already feel starved and overworked? “How” is explanatory. Calories are descriptive. And the “how” is all about emotion.
I’ve noticed a trend that as people tend to worsen in their fitness programs, they increasingly talk about escapes. They increasingly focus on the next weekend, the next night out, the next vacation, the next escape. They are suffering all week, only to escape for a few moments here and there. Think about this. Rather than change the mind or the life, people just look to escape their mind or life. I don’t think it’s reasonable or kind to put more stress on that person. Rather, I think they need to figure out how to hate the week less, so that healthy behaviors can be a natural outgrowth.
Conversely, people who are passionate and excited about the week tend to flourish in their fitness programs. They don’t talk much about escape, because there isn’t anything to escape. Diet and exercise aren’t impositions for that mindset.
When struggling, therefore, take an inventory on general gratitude for how good your life actually is. It sounds odd to people. But this has actually been a profound homework assignment for some of my coaching clients. Daily written gratitudes can do more to lose weight than you can imagine. The lightness that ensues can make activity and healthy eating incredibly easy. Loving most days of your life isn’t about a hard week versus an easy week. It’s about perspective. It’s about emotional management.
Or, you could just keep implementing momentary escapes.
Don’t underestimate the role of emotion.