How This Entrepreneur Learned to Master the #1 Reason People Struggle With Weight Loss — Food Cravings.
The #1 reason people have trouble losing weight and staying healthy is…food cravings!
We’ve all experienced that almost primal voice — Must. Eat. Sugar. NOW! And often we aren’t even aware of the voice. We just find ourselves elbow deep in a huge bowl of popcorn or bag of greasy chips.
Cravings seem to be intense, nagging, and uncontrollable desires and they are our worst nightmare when we’re trying to shed unwanted pounds. They keep us trapped in the cycle of wanting so badly to lose the weight, but also wanting so badly to eat the thing we want so badly. It’s almost comical.
But what’s not funny is when you feel like it’s a battle that has gone on for years and you start to feel like there’s no way you’re going to win it. That’s how I felt and how a lot of women I know feel. But I learned the key to eliminating the junk (food) that holds you back and keeps you stuck at a weight you don’t want to be at and actually eating the healthier foods that support good nutrition and wellness without feeling deprived is…effective craving management.
The One Secret No One Talks About: We Actually Can Manage Our Cravings
This is one thing that gets totally left out of the discussion about women’s nutrition and weight loss and it was a total game changer for me.
Here it is: You (Yes! YOU) can actually learn to manage your cravings.
It’s a SKILL YOU CAN LEARN. Just like any other. Not a gift given only to a lucky few. Not some all powerful, uncontrollable force outside of you. It’s simply not true that some lucky people naturally have more WILLPOWER and are better at getting past their strong desires. The truth is that cravings don’t happen to us. We create them for ourselves. Craving management is simply a skill. And like any other skill, it can be learned and — with practice — mastered.
But this ground-breaking news took me completely by surprise. Here’s my story: I am a freelance editor. When master weight loss coach and certified expert on women’s nutrition, Brenda Lomeli, asked me to edit her new book, How to Lose the Last 10 Pounds, I saw it as an opportunity to work with one of my favorite clients. I had no idea this editing project would completely change my relationship with food.
To my surprise, I ended up losing 11 pounds, which I rarely ever admitted to anyone that I wanted to lose and hit a weight I hadn’t seen in 20 years. And here’s the really amazing part — I wasn’t even trying.
As I read her book, I simply internalized the way Brenda talks about food and cravings. Slowly and steadily, the weight just came off. I’ve had a complete mindset shift. I no longer think about food cravings as unknown and unpredictable desires.
Brenda makes it easy to see that craving management is just like learning how to salsa dance, how to do warrior pose in hot yoga class, and how to put on false lashes ;) … I mean hey — there are all kinds of things out there we take the time to learn. Out of all of them, learning to truly manage and be the boss of your cravings, in my experience is worth your while. Because once you can actually manage your cravings successfully, you put an end to what is at the root of a bunch of problems: skin issues, excess unwanted weight, not being able to squeeze into your favorite designer jeans, etc.
So why is this ground-breaking news? Well, the problem is that most people just don’t teach about cravings in this way. Cravings are presented as an external force to be reckoned with, that require WILLPOWER. But that’s just not the case. WILLPOWER WILL NEVER BE THE SOLUTION.
As Brenda shows in her book, constantly exerting willpower is not sustainable. Here’s why:
Cravings don’t happen to us.
WE create them for ourselves.
This is exactly why willpower is NOT sustainable. IF WE create our cravings, that means willpower is you constantly creating a desire for something (insert your favorite food) and at the same time telling yourself you can’t or shouldn’t have it. Can you see why this is exhausting and not sustainable?
Why is this so important? Think about it. If we create cravings, that means we can also STOP creating them and eliminate the need to resist them (no more willpower needed!), which then also ends that ongoing (seemingly never-ending) battle of cravings and weight gain altogether.
This is the key to Brenda’s innovative approach to craving management. It helped her permanently and successfully lose and keep off 70 pounds (after having struggled for over 18 years!) and now she helps her clients daily to get the same results. When you apply this new approach — becoming the boss of your brain — weight loss and craving management becomes simple, permanent, and deprivation-free.
KNOW THIS, you have the power to end the “struggle” between the self who loves to obsess over food and the self who has big dreams. So whether you want to cut out certain foods because you want to lose those last few stubborn pounds or gain other health benefits (clear skin, increased energy, etc.), permanent success is actually about intentionally creating and generating desires for what you truly want in your life (vs. unintentionally generating desires for certain foods).
That’s the good news — YOU CREATE YOUR CRAVINGS.
You create your desire for things.
Once you learn how to perform this new skill, it’s 100% in your control.
But of course, this doesn’t mean it’s easy — knowing we create our cravings, and knowing you generate desire with your thoughts and what you choose to focus your mind on, doesn’t make it easier to stop eating the foods we love. There’s no magic wand that will change our thoughts and redirect our desires. Craving management is a skill that doesn’t develop overnight, but with practice can be mastered (Again, think of the salsa dancing example. You don’t expect to become a world class pro after one salsa class, do you?).
Here are Brenda’s 3 insider tips straight from her new approach to mastering cravings without feeling deprived:
1. Practice the 30-Minute Pause.
The first step to mastering food cravings is becoming more aware of your thoughts. This means really listening to that demanding inner voice saying Must. Eat. Sugar. NOW! At first, this may feel counter-productive. After all, you have spent years trying to suppress, ignore, and resist this part of yourself, so it shouldn’t be surprising that the switch to listening to it might feel odd. However, if you don’t listen to this craving-creating voice in your mind, you will never be able to master using it to your real advantage.
The 30-Minute Pause is essential to becoming more aware. If you can catch yourself mid-craving — as the craving is actually brewing, and BEFORE you’ve actually eaten the cupcake — that is your cue to start listening. Now, promise yourself that you won’t eat the cupcake for 30 minutes. Literally look at the nearest clock when you notice the urge/craving, and take note of the time. Or you can set your timer on your iphone and then simply take a peek at your brain.
What’s going on there. Listen. What are your thoughts?
Be interested and curious about what is happening inside your brain during this 30-minute pause. What thoughts are coming up? What emotions are you experiencing? Write them down. Become an avid researcher — exploring your own psychology.
The purpose of this experiment is to allow the cravings ‘be there’ and to discover what thought is actually generating the desire for the food. From there, you can decide (choose to make a choice!) whether you would rather create desire for this food or for your goals. It’s desire management ON PURPOSE, versus responding to ‘desires’ on accident and without intentional prioritizing (along with their unwanted consequences of weight gain!). Eventually, this practice will eliminate feelings of deprivation or the need for willpower, which is not sustainable. You simply will become the true boss of what you want to create desire for, and then take action based on that!
2. Replace Craving-Creating Thoughts.
As the 30-Minute Pause becomes more of a routine for you, you can begin practicing the second step: actually replacing those craving-creating thoughts before they become full-blown, late night, end of the work-week binges.
What does a craving-creating thought look like?
Here are some examples:
- “I would love a glass of wine with my dinner.”
- “Popcorn sounds perfect!”
- “But I’ve been so good all week. I really deserve a treat.”
- “I could really go for some fro-yo right now — it’s been a rough day.”
- “There’s no way I can eat this dinner without some chips and a cold beer.”
Try replacing these kinds of desire-generating thoughts with empowering, excited, and committed thoughts instead.
Here are some examples:
- “I’m choosing not to have this glass of wine because I can’t wait to get into that new dress.”
- “Popcorn makes me feel really bloated and I don’t want to feel bloated, so I’m not going to have popcorn this time”
- “I’ve really been crushing my goals this week. Instead of my usual ice cream after a long week, I’m going to schedule a pedicure!”
- “It was a demanding day, but I’m a badass and I can do demanding. Comfort food not necessary to get through it. I’ll be wearing that little dress in no time!”
Keep in mind that ideas like “I can’t have X” are the perfect formula for feeling deprived, while thoughts like “I’m choosing not to have X” are the perfect formula for feeling empowered.
Fundamentally, you can’t feel both empowered and deprived. Choose to feel empowered and you will be able to get rid of cravings without even missing them.
3. Own Your Choices.
This third tip can be the hardest of all. The common, but misguided concept of cravings being intense, nagging, and uncontrollable reinforces the feeling that we are victims of our desires. As long as you accept that your desires come from some unknown place outside of you, you will continue living as if you have no control. By contrast, if you dare to believe the innovative concept that YOU create your cravings (with your thoughts), you open the possibility of owning your choices, and along with that- your results.
Don’t kid yourself. When you embark on this journey to mastering cravings and living healthily, you will have setbacks. Will you fail to catch yourself before you’ve shoved half of a donut in your mouth? Yep. Will you continue to have craving-creating thoughts? Of course. But these are not setbacks. These are part of the brain retraining process. What’s really key is taking ownership of your choices including what you CHOOSE to think about and what YOU choose to generate desire for. It really is up to you.
Create desire for your goal of fitting into those designer size 4 jeans!…or for eating the cupcake with pink frosting and fancy sprinkles… the proverbial ball is always in your court.
It’s truly up to you. You get to choose. And willpower is no longer necessary.
According to Brenda, who has been studying and teaching on the matter of women’s deprivation-free weight loss for years, “It’s NEVER TRUE that you ‘can’t’ have something. As grown adults we can eat anything we want at any given moment. Anytime you feel deprived, it is because you are telling yourself this non-truth: ‘I want x, but I can’t have it.’”
Thoughts like this are some of the most intense craving-generating thoughts! They might not seem like they would generate desire, but they do! Because you’re saying, “I want that thing, but I can’t have it” …..yep. This will make you want it even more! (which is exactly why willpower doesn’t work) and on top of that, it leaves you feeling deprived — which is no fun at all! And also not sustainable.”
“THE KEY IS recognizing that there is nothing you can’t have,” says Brenda. There are health benefits you see to removing certain foods. There are choices you make that are incompatible with eating certain foods. And, yes, there are decisions you make to eat something you really love. All of these choices are yours. As long as you keep this at the forefront of your mind, it’s always a choice. Always. No need to feel deprived ever. Whatever you eat or don’t eat is a choice. Whatever you create desire for or don’t create desire for — also a choice.
Ultimately, cravings management is more about recognizing that you are the boss of your brain vs. trying to control uncontrollable desires. No desire is out of your control because we create our desires with our thoughts — the focus of our mind.
Take this article as your personal invitation to learn more about Brenda’s innovative approach to effective and deprivation-free craving management. I wouldn’t believe it if I hadn’t experienced it for myself. But this bold new idea really is all you need to ditch the cravings and finally lose the weight — once and for all and without feeling deprived! You don’t have to “fight” the urge to eat ever again. All you have to do is change your thinking — way less exhausting and way more sustainable!