This week our morning news team ran a story about a new invention. It’s a transmitter that’s attached to your molar and sends information to your doctor about when you ‘cheat’ on your health. Each time you smoke, it’s recorded. Each time you eat fatty or salty foods, it’s recorded. Every time you eat dessert, it’s recorded. It’s all sent to your doctor so they know how well you’ve stuck to your plan.
Yeah, this story made me a little nauseous. But what got to me wasn’t that nutty doctors want to spy on people ‘for their own good’. (Sadly that doesn’t shock me).
What really got me was I know a lot of people agree with the anchorwoman’s comments following the story. She said she thought it was a great idea. She said she didn’t think she would stick to her diet if she didn’t have someone watching her.
I went from feeling a little nauseous to just sad – all before my first cup of coffee.
This story really hit me because it highlights two of the biggest myths in weight loss.
First, I want to assure you there’s no shame in believing them. I did for a very long time. These myths are presented to us as unquestioned truths. But, as Maya Angelou says, “When you know better, you do better.”
By exposing these myths, my hope is you will “know better” and no longer beat yourself up about two very commonly held beliefs.
You need someone to hold you accountable.
I get it. Maybe it’s something new like a workout plan. You’re afraid you may not do it and go back to your old ways.
So you want –no, need– someone to hold your feet to the fire.
Sounds great. It even sounds responsible.
Don’t be fooled.
Jane needs Ben to hold her accountable.
Based on that sentence, what do you think about Jane and Ben?
Chances are, your thoughts are Jane won’t do it on her own. And even maybe Ben is more responsible than Jane.
So when you tell yourself ‘I need someone to hold me accountable for _______’
What thoughts are triggered?
‘I won’t do it on my own.’
‘I need someone else to make me do it.’
When you start off by thinking you won’t do it on your own, an uphill battle is created.
These beliefs will end the game before it even starts.
When you rely on someone else to hold you accountable, you’re giving away precious power.
You have the power to hold yourself accountable. You are absolutely strong enough to do this. But you will never know that if you let someone else do it for you.
When you hold yourself accountable, you gain autonomy and you get multiple chances to prove your strength. You learn that you can count on you to get the job done.
Nothing will take you farther than knowing how strong you really are.
I’m not saying don’t have a partner. Just make sure they don’t get delegated the role of holding you accountable.
Instead of believing ‘I won’t do it on my own’, choose to believe ‘I will do this because I want to.’
Ok, willpower itself isn’t a myth. It’s something we use daily. Focusing on tasks takes willpower. Following through with not so fun obligations takes willpower. Staying awake in boring meetings takes willpower.
It’s a renewable resource that benefits us in ways we don’t even realize.
What willpower is not intended for is trying all day, everyday, to stay away from ‘bad food’.
That is a misuse of the resource and it will fail. Maybe not immediately, but there will be plenty of days that it will, because you’re overusing it.
When our willpower fails, we tend to blame ourselves for being weak.
Nothing can be farther from the truth. Believing you’re weak because you don’t have the willpower is another game ender.
Plenty of people will tell you these myths are true. Usually they’re used together in statements like “I don’t have the willpower, so I need someone to hold me accountable”.
Instead of using willpower to stay away from dessert, ask yourself why you really want it. Go beyond how it tastes and you may find that you’re lonely, nervous, or some other reason that has nothing to do with actually eating.
Look at the feelings you have before you eat it. What feelings do you imagine you will have after you eat it?
You will find that those answers have nothing to do with the food.
If you want to stay away from something, the most effective way is to understand why you crave it.
Instead of using someone else to hold you accountable to get up early and work out, ask yourself why you don’t want to do it.
Then look at why you want to do it. Both the benefits you will get after it’s done and the joy you will get while you’re doing it.
If it’s something you just don’t want to do, no one will make you do it for long. You’re just teeing up something else to beat yourself up about. You couldn’t do it on your own and other people can’t make you, either.
If it’s something you actually want to do, put the power in your hands from day one. Each time you do it is a win for you because you’re awesome. Not a win because your friend made you do it (and you still believe you wouldn’t have done it without her).
Be honest with yourself – is it something you really want to do? If it’s not, instead of having someone ‘make’ you do it, find something that you will enjoy doing.
Relying on willpower and having someone hold you accountable for your actions are, in my humble opinion, two of the meanest, powerless, most unnecessary things we can do to ourselves. They can single-handedly ruin any weight loss plan and leave us feeling like a failure.
These are powerful tools, but only when used in the right way.
Use your willpower for good – focus on asking why you want something instead of willing yourself to walk away.
Practice being accountable to no one else but yourself.
Your strength, confidence, and freedom will grow with every win.