I got a ton of responses to my last email in which I asked you to share your trolls with me. In the next few emails, I’m going to dig into some of the most common ones and offer my best advice.
One of the most common trolls stalking your bridges actually sounds like multiple trolls, but they’re all actually the same species. It manifests in an inner voice that says one or more of these:
“One bite won’t hurt.”
“Life is too short for all these rules.”
“It’s not fair that other people get to eat junk food, but I don’t.”
“I’ve done so well, I deserve a treat.”
There are others, too. Allow me to explain and I think you will know if you harbor a troll I didn’t acknowledge here.
All of these statements stem from the same root place – and extrinsic motivation. In order to say any of these things, you have to dislike the process of the AltShift lifestyle. In other words, the things you are required to do each day (make compliant food choices, walk, meditate, prioritize sleep) aren’t enjoyable for you and you are only doing them because you believe that if you string enough of them together, you will change the way you look.
Sadly, this is a recipe for nearly guaranteed failure. Here’s an example that I used in the current round of AltShift Activate:
Let’s say you hate taking showers and you only take them because you know that the rest of the world won’t approve if you stop entirely. You grudgingly take a shower every workday and every day that you have to be around people. But what happens when you know you will be alone for a whole Saturday? You don’t take a shower, of course. Why would you do something you don’t like doing when you are only doing it for other people and nobody will be around all day. It’s the same when you get a random day off, when you go on vacation, when you are around other people who hate showers, and when you are just too stressed out to worry about everyone else today.
This is how SO MANY people are trying to change their bodies. They don’t like the process, so they deviate whenever they possibly can. They don’t see THIS meal as an awesome gift to a body that deserves it. Instead, this is just one more time that they didn’t eat the foods that they really love (like pizza) in an attempt to accomplish something nebulous after an indeterminate amount of time. They don’t see THIS walk as something that will make them feel good. Instead, it’s just a chore that they have to do in order to appease the Fitbit and belly fat gods. And naturally, sleep is a burden and meditation is a waste of time.
Let’s contrast this perspective with some examples of intrinsic motivation. If you were learning how to play the guitar, you would never say, “I have been doing so well lately! You know, I totally deserve to play terrible for the next hour! I’m going to hit ALL the notes wrong! Woohoo!”
Sounds ridiculous, right? How about this one? You are a quilter. You LOVE to make quilts. As such, you fond yourself regularly thinking, “I’ve been making all these stitches so straight. It won’t hurt if I just make one crooked. I just need to make one crooked stitch and then I’ll go right back to making them straight again.” Isn’t this normal? I’m sure everyone quilts this way.
If you’re following me here, it should be clear that disliking the day-to-day process and trying to only focus on what you will eventually achieve in the eyes of other people is the path of misery. Some people spend their whole lives on that path because they never stop to analyze their motivations. Don’t be one of those people.
Your next meal is a one-off event that does not impact the meal after it and is not impacted by the meal before it. Believe it or not, you can make a good decision at that meal because you DESERVE it. Your body has not betrayed you and it does not suck. It may seem like a shocking concept to some, but you actually CAN treat your body with compassion because you love it. You aren’t being forced to go to war with it because you hate it.
Make your next decision to the best of your ability because you’re worth it. Then do the same when the next decision comes along. Then do it again. And again. Continue this pattern until it becomes habit and I promise you that your body will become everything you want it to be. The only other option is that horrible rollercoaster you’ve been riding.
Stay tuned. We’ll talk again soon.