The Truth About Temptation and Weight-loss



whatyouwantmost (1)

Because I work as a nutrition and lifestyle coach, people tend to think that I that I never have cravings and that I never struggle with temptation. That could not be farther from the truth. Last night, I had a verrrry long, verrrry boring meeting I had to go to. I was really dreading it. And the cold, rainy weather was adding to the dread. Just before leaving the house I got the idea to stop at Starbucks and grab a hot chocolate for the meeting. It sounded REALLY good and I really wanted it. I wish I was one of those people that could just not crave it, or easily say no and move on. But I’m not, so I have to follow a plan for dealing with cravings. Here’s what I did last night:

Get Real
I stopped and asked myself: “How is hot chocolate going to make this meeting better?” I was telling myself that the hot chocolate would give me something to enjoy during the long, boring meeting but the truth was that I was looking for a distraction from the dread I was feeling. Getting real about why I wanted the hot chocolate made me realize that the hot chocolate would quickly be gone and wouldn’t change the fact that I still had to sit through this the long, boring meeting. This got me focused in the right direction but I was still wavering so I continued on to the next step.

What I want most
I thought about my goal. I have a very clear, very specific goal in my mind of where I want to be in 5 months. It is so clear that I can easily imagine how I will feel when I reach that goal 5 months from now. I can feel it and I can see it. I thought about my goal and I thought about what I will feel like if I don’t reach my goal. The answer was immediate — I will feel horrible if I don’t reach my goal. I will feel frustrated and disappointed in myself. That hot chocolate I was wanting was not worth feeling horrible 5 months from now. There’s a saying “Don’t give up what you want most for what you want right now’. What I want most is to reach my goal and the hot chocolate I wanted in the moment was not worth giving up my goal.

The misconception about temptation
There’s a misconception that the key to eating healthy and losing weight is to stop wanting unhealthy food. People think that they shouldn’t be tempted by food. But in a society where unhealthy foods are so abundant and so easy to get, I just don’t think that’s a realistic expectation. Instead, we have to put our energy into learning how to navigate our way through temptation. In this case, I had to recognize that I was using the hot chocolate to distract me from undesirable feelings (boredom and dread) and recognize that the distraction would not be worth giving up my goal.

As you’re reading this, it might sound like I spent a great deal of time working through this thought process, but I didn’t. I probably spent a total of 1 minute thinking this through. If you are clear about your goals, it doesn’t take long to determine your priorities. If you’re like me and struggle with temptation, try a new approach. Instead of focusing on forcing yourself to not want the food, put your energy into focusing on what you want most and ask yourself if what you want now is worth giving that up.

This entry was filed under: Healthy Eating: Preparing for Success Series, Healthy Habits, Weight-loss