You know you want to lose weight and you have your list of "real" reasons that resonate with you. Now it's time to commit. But that feels scary. How do you actually stick to these reasons?
Commitment takes planning and using the prefrontal cortex in our brain.
Our prefrontal cortex is the part of our brain in charge of decision making. It's the most advanced part of our brain and the part that takes the most time to develop. Researchers think full development of this part takes until we're about 25 years old.
Remember all those great decisions you made when you were fifteen?
Yeah, me too.
When I was 15 years old, I thought eating a sleeve of Ritz crackers everyday for lunch was a great idea. It saved my lunch money for better purchases - like Diet Coke and cookies. Not a healthy choice, looking back. But at least now I know my prefrontal cortex was still growing.
As adults, we can harness the power of our prefrontal cortex.
We can plan and make decisions in advance. We can say, "Tomorrow, this is what I will eat."
That's what commitment is all about. Making a protocol at least 24 hours in advance and sticking with it.
You know you're using your prefrontal cortex when you make a plan 24 hours in advance. You know you're using the more primitive parts of your brain when you're making a plan 5 minutes in advance. That's not a plan, that's responding to an urge.
How can you tell the difference between your prefrontal cortex and primitive brain?
The primitive brain yells a lot. It's like a toddler, trying to be in charge of all your decisions. It tries to override your prefrontal cortex most of the time.
It says things like, "Hey, let's eat this cookie in a few minutes. It's a great idea."
But what do we do with toddlers? We tell them no.
We have to tell our primitive brains the same thing when it wants that cookie. We have to say, "I hear you. I know you want a cookie. But it's not part of our protocol. It's not on the plan for eating today."
It can become harder as the day goes on not to give into the primitive brain. It tries to wear us down and we get ego depleted. We've all been there. We say, "FINE! I'm tired! Let's eat the cookie!"
And the primitive brain rejoices. It say, "Great, I know exactly what to do next time to get what I want. I'll throw a fit and then I'll get what I want."
Just like a toddler, remember?
The goal in sticking with our commitments isn't to "shut the primitive brain up" or ignore it.
We speak calmly and quietly to it. We say, "It's not in the plan. Not today."
We allow our urges to exist, we allow the voice to scream.
But we don't give in. We let our prefrontal cortex stay in charge, the adult in the room.
We stick to our protocol that we created. We remind ourselves of our bigger commitment and reasons why.
And when we're ready, we take notes and watch the primitive brain talking. We notice when it wants to talk the most. We stay curious about that voice and when it gets upset.
We remove temptations and help it stay calm and collected.
Just like a toddler. We give it rest and restoration time.
We don't try to manipulate it by screaming or crying back. We allow it to be. We recognize it. And then we move on.
Your commitment to losing weight is about managing your thoughts and allowing urges. It isn't about a new fangled technology or special workout clothes. It's about sticking to what you said you were going to do. Following through. And getting in the pattern.
If you're doubting this process, there are thoughts to manage!
You are amazing and you can do this.