I love delicious, high calorie food, which means I’m in a constant battle against extra pounds. I know all the different weight loss methods, from crazy gimmicks like pills and potions to informercial exercise routines and gym equipment to plans like Nutrisystem and Weight Watchers.
I’m also a counselor, so I know it takes more than just tools like an eating plan or a gym membership to help you shed weight and keep it off. Just as a hammer, nails, and a pile of wood won’t magically transform into a building, you have to consistently use resources if you want to be successful.
There’s one secret word that you have to add to your plan in order to ensure its success: Priorities. No matter what you try, if losing weight isn’t your top priority above everything else, you’d going to fail.
What, exactly, does that mean in practical terms? Let’s say that you’re on a healthy eating plan, but you’re passing the grocery store’s bakery department and have a sudden urge to grab a huge slice of chocolate cake. Your priorities determine what happens next. If you buy that cake, your desire for indulgence had a greater priority than your desire to stay on your plan.
You should take a moment before you grab the goody to ask yourself, “What’s really the most important thing to me right now?” Examine your priorities and make a conscious decision. Is the immediate gratification worth the consequences or should you reshuffle your priorities and focus on what you need to do for the long term gain?
You hold yourself accountable when you ask yourself a question like that. It makes you focus on what’s really important to you and to decide whether your priorities at any given moment are in the right place. If you go ahead and eat that cake, you can’t blame it on something vague like “temptation” or “cravings.” You have to face the fact that you chose to let your hunger have priority over your weight loss goal.
I find it helpful to write up a priority list before I even start a weight loss plan. I put it in writing to make it clear and concrete. That makes it easier to refocus myself when temptation takes over. I refer back to my list, where weight loss is at the top, and ask myself, “Is this list really in the correct order? Do I want to give in and be forced to reshuffle it, or am I going to stick with it?”
Sometimes your priorities might actually shift temporarily. For example, if you’re an emotional eater, you might decide that self-comfort with chocolate is more important at that specific moment because of some hurt. When you’re forced to acknowledge that, it helps you identify problem areas and make plans to deal with them more effectively in the future.
Your shifted priority might be something else, like needing extra time and therefore choosing a fast food lunch over taking time in the morning to pack something healthy. If this happens consistently, you need to look at your overall time management.
There’s no weight loss miracle and no single method that works for everyone, but the “p-word” is a powerful accountability tool. Add this secret ingredient to your plan and ramp up your results.