It’s easy to not regret the time I spent in analysis paralysis, toiling over how to create my perfect fitness and nutrition plan. After all, I created a career out of all the knowledge I earned through research and experience during that process. It became a hobby, a passion project. Then I learned that there’s no such thing as perfect plan for me or anyone else. I noticed certain patterns and trends you might find helpful if you want to avoid going down the rabbit holes I went down and spend your time and your life actually living your life and focusing on other things. After all, getting healthy should enhance your life, not complicate it.
It’s known and widely agreed upon that the placebo effect is a powerful phenomenon that can create healing in the body, diminish symptoms of illness or injury, and even have a counter effect in the case of the nocebo effect – where a patient has adverse side effects when believing a drug will be bad for them.
I’m setting the stage with this, because I need you on board with what I’m about to say: What matters most are your beliefs.
Just pick an approach. Believe in it. Go for it.
If you’ve ever gotten excited by a new diet, a new fitness program, or a miracle pill and NOT gotten the results you were hoping for, then you know there’s more to this. Regardless of whether you even stuck with your protocols in those cases, your nocebo effect was stronger than the placebo effect. If you undercut your belief of success, it won’t work. Solve for that instead of finding the perfect solution through finding the perfect action steps.
THOUGHT: I don’t know what I’m doing. There’s got to be more to it. —> You second guess yourself and flounder in indecision.
POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS: Find a way to trust yourself. Find someone else or a plan to entrust with some decisions or guidance. Decide to do it anyway and learn from experience, take the pressure off.
THOUGHT: I’ve failed so many times before. I won’t stick with this. —> You give up, you weaken your self-trust and ability to follow through.
POSSIBLE SOLUTION: Build belief in your ability to stick with what you set out to do. Make easy, no-brainer plans and follow through on them. Start small. Go from there, incrementally getting outside of your comfort zone.
THOUGHT: I hate my body. —> You learn to ignore your needs and make choices that are unhealthy for you giving you negative results. You don’t enjoy the process of taking care of yourself.
SOLUTION: Build body acceptance and then love which will naturally have you nourishing yourself.
Humor me here. If all you’ve ever done was focus on your action steps and you’re reading this, you could use with a little switcharoo. Treat it as an experiment. Focus on your thoughts instead for a little while. After all, you do create action steps with your thoughts.
If you’re asking that question, I already know you’re having a version of another thought that can undercut your success: I don’t know if I’ll get the results I want, AKA I don’t really trust this will work.
Don’t spin out here. If you start worrying about the perfect belief system before you take action, that’s a whole other problem and time-suck.
Take action anyway, even with this thought. It will take time to grow your belief, so if you notice you’re not 100% on board, don’t worry. You’re not doomed.
Here’s the action I would suggest and a way to take comfort: Calendar check-ins
Commit to a change. Execute your plan. Instead of checking in every day, multiple times a day to check if it’s working, calendar a check-in and make some measure of your starting point. The more objective you can be the better. Make sure you know ahead of time how you’ll determine if it is working or not. This way, you can set it and forget it. You’ll learn to second guess yourself less and less as you can remind yourself you’re not going to worry about it until whenever you’ve decided to check-in.
When evaluation time comes, one of three things will be true:
1. You made changes (towards or away from your goal),
2. you made no change, or …
3. you didn’t actually stick with your plan.
In any of those cases, creating drama around it doesn’t serve you. You’re in this for the long haul, right? Just use and learn from this information. Modify your approach if you want different results. You can ask for help if you need it or want to get an objective set of eyes on the situation.
This will get easier over time as you learn to separate your self-worth from your results and realize that you’re getting closer and closer to what works best the more you find out what aspects of your plans do/don’t work. If you’re in this for the long haul and are committed to staying in action to reach your goal, it is inevitable that you’ll reach it. To ease into this new way of things, start with more frequent check-ins. As you hone your approach and gain more trust in your ability to succeed, spread them farther and farther apart. This will create more space to be more present for life outside of your health-pursuits.
The only way to your goals is through all of this. Trust the process of commitment, doing the work, and your ability to succeed.
P.S. The average woman spends 17 years of her life on a diet, and from personal experience I know the obsessive thinking that comes from being on a diet. Unless you’re like me and that obsession is fueling an eventual transition to a career in wellness, YOU HAVE A LIFE TO LIVE. I get my kicks helping support women to live richer lives using health as just a tool to enhance their lives, not take it over. That’s why I spent extra focus helping you take the first step away from obsession over results. I sincerely hope it helps you if this is something you struggle with.
P.P.S. Action does matter. It does. Another way I help clients is to just use my savvy to help them make the decisions on which actions to take, kickstart their inertia, and then help them maintain momentum. Thoughtwork is the most valuable thing I can teach though, because with proper thoughts you’ll be able to step out of self-sabotage loops and actually take new action, not something the brain is comfy cozy with doing. I mean, what use is all the information out there if you’re not able to actually apply it?
Been there! Here's my gift to you that'll help you understand why you've fallen prey to self-sabotage, how to regain control to change your habits, and what you need to know to create lasting motivation.