The Real Deal on Urges

by | Sep 22, 2023

I’m going to demystify urges. We’re going to make them easier to understand. We’re not going to beat ourselves up over having urges because if you have a human brain you have urges. That’s actually what kept not only us personally alive all these years, but the human race had to have some level of urge in order to know;

  • When should I eat? 
  • What do I eat? 
  • What would I like to eat? 
  • When do I eat? 
  • Should I run away? 
  • Should I punch this person in the face?

All of those we have a very primitive brain. 

We also have a prefrontal cortex, where we get to be very deliberate and make decisions. It is like we are parenting ourselves constantly. Our prefrontal cortex is the mom or the dad or the taskmaster. And our primitive brain operates in many ways, like a four year old. Some of this might sound brand new to you. Some of you may have heard me talk about this before, but I think we all need to hear it and remind ourselves again. 

Having urges is normal, even as you lose weight. And while your journey to keep it off. You’re making a lot of changes and improvements and the scale does go down or you get more muscle. The clothing size changes and you progress in your life, but you will still have urges, you will still have slips and falls in your dieting journey. Trust me on this. I think it’s important to make it normal. It’s not like you’re doing anything wrong or you’re slipping or you haven’t learned, you should know better. Why is this happening to me? I’m doing it wrong. All that stuff, we have to be able to be curious about it.

Curiosity is different from beating ourselves up about it. We can be curious, we can find out what is going on with us. 

  • What are we feeling? 
  • What triggered this? 
  • Am I overly tired? 
  • Am I just not slowing down enough? 
  • Am I not listening to my own body? 
  • Am I not listening to my own intuition? 

Having a brain.

What does it mean to have a primitive brain? 

The brain is really designed for three major things. It does a lot of things. It’s pre wired for reward. We’re always going to be seeking what is easiest, what tastes good,

what feels good. What do I want right now? It’s like the Veruca Salt part of our brain, like I need it now. I want it now. Instant gratification. That’s feel urges, cravings, temptations. They are out of our control. 

My brain immediately wants something that looks good. I love that. I need that. I can’t stop eating and all that stuff, I just want to normalize it. That’s what your brain is here to do. Of course it looks good, of course you want it, all of that stuff. If my brain is wired this way, then I just have to give in. I just have to go with the flow. I can’t fight this anymore. Talking about urges is not about resisting and fighting urges, it’s learning how to identify them and make it easier. To actually decondition the desire we have for this reward, this instant gratification. 

Our brain is also wired to avoid harm or change. Anything that seems hard. We’re in fight or flight mode a lot of times as a response to everyday small stresses. So our brain is constantly checking the horizon. Looking at people, things, everything for danger, constantly.

  • What is wrong? 
  • What is wrong with me? 
  • What is wrong with them? 
  • What is wrong with the situation? 
  • What don’t I like? 
  • How is this person trying to hurt me? 
  • Why doesn’t my boss like me? 
  • Why I’m not successful. 

All of that. It’s just to protect you. Believe it or not.

Our brain’s biggest goal is to keep us alive. It does this in these three ways. 

1) Seek reward. 

We’re always eating, drinking, acting on the urge to get the reward. Get the scratch ticket, do online shopping, have sex with strangers, well, don’t do that. Or do that. Do whatever you want. But understand, it’s wired into who we are as human beings, not like a judgement call. You’re not a good human, you’re just a human with a human brain. 

2) Self sabotage.

The same thing with finding what is wrong? What is the problem? What is negative, why this won’t work. I think a lot of people avoid taking action on their weight loss or trying something new, like flexible eating. It seems like it’s not gonna work. I can’t eat that. Carbs make me fat, I’m addicted to sugar that’s not good for you. Just listen for it and understand that your brain is trying to protect you. 

Self Sabotage is just self protection. Your brain has all of these things in place, so that as humans we survive. It’s all about our survival. 

3) Automated actions.

Lastly, as part of this sort of motivational triad, what motivates our brain to do its brain things to keep us alive? That biological imperative, automate everything. Be efficient, be lazy. It’s how we quickly learn;

  • to walk,
  • ride a bike,
  • tie a shoe, 
  • drive a car, 

how we learned anything very quickly.

If I had to figure out every single day how to tie my shoe, I wouldn’t get anything done. But our brain not only has actions automated, but it has thoughts and feelings automated. It’s a very quick little habit loop. What happens is not just what we think and you know, and make that innocuous, it’s just your thoughts.

  • That’s a problem. 
  • You just need to think differently. 
  • You need to think positive. 

No, it goes a little deeper. 

Over time, we get what are called neural pathways. It’s like the path through the woods. If you’ve ever gone hiking, there’s a path. It’s been well worn by the people who came before you or maybe even you previously. That’s what a neural pathway is like. I’ve done this so many times, my brain has now charted it for me. We are up against a human brain when it comes to urges. 

I want you to see all of the things that go into weight loss and long term weight loss. It’s not just about eating less and moving more. It’s not just, do I have the right amount of calories? How many calories should I have? What should my macros be? Is this the right fish oil, all that stuff? 

Yeah, there’s a time and a place for it bBut ultimately we’re going to make further strides when we understand what is happening in our everyday life. Sometimes it happens very quickly, where you stand up and you find yourself in the refrigerator or you’re in the pantry or opening a cabinet and you’re like, how did I get here? 

It’s like driving a car that is automated. Hopefully for most of us if you’ve been driving for a while. Sometimes you’re like, when did I get in this lane? I don’t even remember turning off to my street. I don’t even remember pulling into the parking lot. Because we’re able to do that. Our brain can go to other places, think about stuff, ruminate, do other things other than drive. 

It is okay to feel all the feelings. We’re not going to stop feeling feelings. I want to put it out there that you’re not powerless, you are not weak because you have an urge. What happens sometimes is we make an urge or craving a temptation means something about us. 

  • We don’t have discipline
  • We’re not motivated, 
  • We can’t be consistent. 
  • We don’t have what it takes. 
  • We’re not built for this,
  • This isn’t for us, 
  • I’ll never get there. 

I think it’s very important to understand and see that.

One of the tools I teach a lot in Self Made and the Society is this idea of a thought download. It’s really just a brainstorm, or a brain dump, or a thought audit. It’s taking a piece of paper and writing down all your thoughts, all of them. Otherwise they swirl in our head and we ruminate on them. We begin to believe them. They start to create a habit loop of I think this isn’t for me. So you know what, I’m gonna get the chips, I get the chips, I sit down. I feel shitty about myself. I tell myself all these terrible things about myself. I have to start all over. Where I don’t lose weight. Or I feel like this is a big setback. And that’s another thing that didn’t work. 

My goal for talking about urges and all of the strategies around the urges is that we can figure out how to handle them, decrease the frequency, and ride the waves of urges. If we think about life as just a big ocean. Sometimes the waves are high and we’re just learning to surf. Sometimes the waves are calm. Sometimes there’s no wave. Sometimes it’s smooth.That’s just part of life, even as we lose weight and learn to keep it off. 

Not every day is sunshine and rainbows. 

People at their ideal weight, or in their ideal clothes or whatever still have feelings and urges. We’re working on our emotional landscape all the time. 

If you’ve never really looked up urges in the dictionary, urges is a noun. It means a strong desire or impulse. Which makes sense. We’re humans with a primitive brain. We have a lot of impulses. A natural impulse, an instinctive impulse that makes sense. It’s built into our DNA to like sweet things or salty things or things that taste good. It’s just part of being alive. 

Urges could be a pressing want, a compulsion, a strong restless desire. Sometimes we notice the more we feed the urge, the more I give into the urge, the more awful it feels. It feels like it grows. That is true to some extent, we get a dopamine hit. 

If I see ice cream, and I think I love ice cream, I need ice cream, I want ice cream. Every time I go through that and I give myself ice cream, it’s a pleasure. At the moment that I start eating ice cream, a couple bites later the pleasure diminishes. What happens over time, the more I indulge the craving the more it’s going to keep coming back faster. I’m gonna want more and nothing seems to be enough. 

Ultimately, some of our urges to eat are not just because I’m wired as a human to want all the things. There’s also an emotional component there that I use food to make me feel better. To make life less lifey. To not feel bored, sad, lonely, angry, mad, resentful, shameful, fearful, all of

that. For the moment, it works. Then I’m left with an empty ice cream container. On top of whatever emotion I had, I have more guilt and shame and regret on top of it. That’s what we’re looking to avoid. Obviously we don’t want to feel all that shame and whatnot, because we chose to eat ice cream.

There’s a difference between indulging an urge for ice cream and planning for ice cream. We’re going to talk about that too. Urging isn’t always bad. It can be strongly encouraged. Like;

  • I urge you to read this book. 
  • I urge you to consider this. 
  • I urge you to give yourself a break. 
  • I urge you to breathe. 

It doesn’t have to be this terrible bad thing that is out of control and makes me powerless and that I cannot stop it. It’s not really a tsunami. Sometimes it just feels that way. But it can also be the nudge to do something for yourself. 

It could be feeling compelled. Sometimes we urge others around us, we cheer for them, we root for them, we inspire them. We’re urging them to take positive action. So urges themselves, just like most things, have two sides. 

Here’s where we’re gonna go. Some of this might be new to you. If you’ve listened to my podcast, some of it might be familiar. 

Awareness of our urges.

We want to know; 

  • When is this happening? 
  • Is it a certain time of day? 
  • Is it a certain day of the week? 
  • Is it every weekend? 
  • Is it every social event? 
  • Is it certain social events? 
  • Is it certain people?
  • Is something happening in my life, where I am noticing a repeated pattern?

I want to get ahead of that. Not necessarily that I could avoid it. 

Sometimes the pattern is I’m at work, I’m with my boss, I’m answering emails, I’m stressed out. It is this moment, every afternoon when I’m in the office. Instead of just feeling stressed out and answering the emails, feeling uncomfortable feeling the discomfort, I’m going to procrastinate, I’m going to put it off, and I’m going to go treat myself. I’m going to go give myself a reward. But it definitely is a distraction. 

Ultimately, when we have an urge or craving or temptation to eat something or drink something or do something other than what we have to do, it is a momentary distraction. We don’t empty our email inbox by going into the snack closet. Just having awareness.

When we talk about awareness, I want you to think about it not as judging. Not as the judge, not as oh my gosh, I can’t believe this is happening again. And you’re so stupid and why haven’t you gotten this together? And you should know better all that stuff. Or judging even other people. 

Humans are very judgy. It’s built into us because we’re constantly trying to size things up trying to figure things out. 

  • Is this good? 
  • Is this bad? 
  • Is this a problem? 
  • Is this not a problem? 
  • Is this person trying to hurt me or help me?
  • Do I like them? 
  • Do they like me? 

All of that.

Awareness is you being the detective. You setting like a timeline. Like if you had to solve a mystery, a crime. If you’re the scientist, you’re looking at data, you’re looking at facts. A lot of times our brain offers us not facts, just feelings. I feel like this is happening. Get the facts.

Write this stuff down my friends. Whatever comes to your mind or any discovers that you have just keep a notebook. It doesn’t have to make any sense. It doesn’t have to be pretty, it doesn’t have to be in gel pen or in calligraphy, but you’re going to learn a lot. That is my goal for the 14 days. I’d love to say I’ll make you skinny in 14 days, but then I’m just contributing to the problems we already have with dieting. 

We’re going to notice some of the thoughts like I mentioned this idea of thought download or thought audit. Get them out of your head and onto paper. See what it is all about. And know an urge can be an actual feeling of urgency. But it can also be attached to something like the urge to eat. If I have an urge to eat, where did it come from? Besides hunger, it probably came from boredom or loneliness or anger or sadness or whatever. It’s not one definition. 

You can feel an urgent pull to go do something like;

  • eat, 
  • drink, 
  • buy scratch tickets, 
  • do online shopping, 
  • over exercise, 
  • under eat, 
  • punish yourself for overeating the day before.

We all have our own different ways that we cope with actual feelings. 

Our brain is constantly trying to solve or fix feelings. And by solve or fix them, make them go away. Our brain looks at anger, sadness, loneliness, shame, fear, all of that is uncomfortable, we don’t want to do it. Yuck. Yuck. Instead of being curious about it, or just feeling the feeling and seeing what happens. It’s almost like, we’re going to die. It sends us into fight or flight. We cannot feel this feeling, this is awful. I don’t know what to do with it. I’m so triggered, and I can’t. I don’t have any method to calm myself down. 

There are different ways to de-stress. Food is the easy one. Drinking alcohol is another easy one. But they generally do not work for your goals. I think once you get your thoughts down on paper, you will start to then understand it is our thoughts that will drive our feelings. If my thoughts are, 

  • I can’t do this. 
  • This is too hard. 
  • Everything is overwhelming. 
  • I don’t even know where to start. 

Or it could be a thought about;

  • work, 
  • other people, 
  • your bank account. 
  • your house.

It could be thought about anything. 

I’d love to say of the 60,000 thoughts humans have every day, they’re positive. Most of them are the same thoughts over and over. And a lot of them are fairly negative. The way we speak to ourselves about ourselves, our situation, our circumstances, puts us in the backseat of our lives and makes us feel powerless, like a victim.

If we want to lose weight and keep it off, you’re not going to be able to be powerless and be a victim in your own life. You’re going to have to actually get in the driver’s side of the car and grab the steering wheel. Part of that is understanding we are humans. We will have thoughts and feelings that we don’t like and we can decide what to do with them. It’s not about making them go away and toxic positivity. And I just need to think positive all the time. No, it’s just I need the awareness. I need to know what’s going on. I cannot get ahead of my weight loss and urges to eat and how I’m over eating or how I’m using food if I don’t know what is going on. That’s all this is. It’s a little bit of discovery. 

This too shall pass. 

All feelings do pass. I’m not talking about depression or grief. Depression is a medical diagnosis. Greif is an unfortunate part of the human experience. If you’ve ever lost a loved one, a pet, a job, a relationship, whatever you’ve lost, there’s grieving to be done. Some of it changes over time. To some extent it never completely goes away. When you’re pissed off, overwhelmed, feeling despondent, or feeling disappointed, a lot of that is temporary. I think part of being aware is figuring out how long this feeling lasts.

I think for women. We’re always doing things. We’re multitasking. We’re organizing and telling other people what to do. We’ve got six different things going on at the same time. We feel terrible about ourselves when we just need a break. Urges and feelings do not last forever. But we do want to get awareness. 

Let’s just talk about strategies, because what do we do with all this? And I get it. Most of us, with the mindset piece are like, Ugh, that’s too much. That means I’ll have to dig in there, I’m afraid of what I’ll find. I think it’s because I’m afraid that I’ll see a lot of things that aren’t how I want them to be. That feels bad. I don’t want to go digging or looking or answering tough questions. I’m afraid of what’s in there. That is, okay. 

We’re not looking to up end your whole life. You don’t have to end every relationship, quit your job, move out of state and become a Buddhist monk, unless you want to. I think having awareness gets you back in the driver’s seat. Otherwise, you’re going to feel even worse, bouncing around in the backseat with all of the negative thoughts, and all of the BS. 

Let’s just talk about what to do, because I think ultimately, we want to feel better. There are different ways to do this. 

We do have control over some of our environment.

Especially our house, our refrigerator, our pantry, our parties, things that are ours. You don’t have to bring in foods you cannot be moderate with right now. Being somebody with flexible eating, dieting, nutrition, like a flexible nutrition plan. Weight loss is not about bringing everything and anything to your house, and then just be moderate, be flexible. If you already know you have a thing for Oreos and as soon as you have one, we’re going to have 12, just don’t bring them in. That’s it. Right?

If you cannot be moderate with something, stop trying. It’s like a square peg in a round hole. It’s like telling a crack addict to be moderate with a pile of crack on their kitchen counter. And maybe you know that should last you a month, like just have a little bit of crack and leave the rest alone. Not saying that you’re an Oreo addict, but it’s kind of the same premise. 

Why do we keep trying to do this? If you notice that you’re over eating certain things, it happens to all of us. Our brain is very tricky. Sometimes it’ll be like I won’t bring in candy but I’ll bring in the nuts. I won’t have any for me. This was like I won’t bring in the M&Ms but I’ll now get into the trail mix or the roasted almonds. Same thing. It’s the same exact easy to overeat snack food that you just cruise through the bag and now you have an extra 1000 calories in your day. Don’t do it.

At some point you will decondition that urge but right now, if it is a problem, you are responsible for your environment. Don’t bring it into the house.

If you’re freaking out about bagels or something don’t bring it in the house. Don’t eat it. It’s fine. It’s not the be all end all. Ultimately you can eat anything for breakfast. A meal is 200-600 calories depending on how you embellish it. You could have a 700 Calorie bagel breakfast, you could probably have a 300 Calorie bagel breakfast. It’s all what you put on it. Did you put avocado? Did you use whole eggs? Is there some mayo? Is there cheese? You could make it bigger. You could make it smaller. Our environment is on us. 

Make a list of substitutions for when you have urges. 

It could be just substituting having different kinds of foods or using tea. Many of my clients will use tea, seltzer water, diet soda, or gum. Other things you can do with your mouth instead of putting food in it all the time. Or distractions, like what else would you actually physically be doing if you weren’t getting up looking for food? Or thinking about food? 

  • Do you have hobbies? 
  • Do you knit sweaters? 
  • Do you paint pictures? 
  • Do you crochet? 
  • Do you want to clean out a drawer? 
  • Do you want to call a friend? 
  • Do you want to watch TV? 
  • Do you want to exercise? 
  • Can you go for a walk? 
  • Can you walk your dog? 
  • Do you have gardening? 

Other things I could do besides putting things in my mouth, essentially. I would write these things out. 

What are the things you could do? When I’m bored, I’m lonely, I’m overwhelmed. I always sit on the couch and eat chez-its. What would I do instead? Write that down. Can you watch TV without eating. Do you need to watch TV in your bedroom instead of the living room or the basement? Maybe that’s it. Are there certain places in your house? You notice after dinner, as soon as I sit here, then I have the urge. What are we going to do instead? 

Is it a substitution or distraction? Or both? Figure that out, write it down? There is not one answer here. We’re all different. We have different schedules. Some of you are probably like, I don’t have any hobbies. Get one, figure it out. What could I do instead?

Cleaning. Many of us have found that it can be very relaxing, believe it or not, to pick one small area of your home and clean it. Don’t clean out your whole kitchen. Don’t clean out every drawer. But is there a sock drawer in the house that could be cleaned? I find it is easier to do your kids stuff because you don’t care if you throw it out. 

  • Is there something that needs to be organized? 
  • Do you need to fold all the sheets in the linen closet? 
  • Do you need to fold those towels? 
  • Do you need to clean out a junk drawer? 

Do something that feels kind of repetitive and keeps you occupied for 10 or 15 minutes. That you have an urge will pass. 

Connecting with nature, a lot of people find this very powerful. Getting out of the kitchen, out of the house, going for a walk or a hike. Being just outdoors. People really find that grounding for them. I think a lot of people love this idea of yoga outside or even putting their meals outside. 

Go for a walk. Take the dog for a walk. Take the neighbor’s dog for a walk. Get two friends together to walk. Walking is, in many ways, moving meditation. You’re outside and it’s fresh air. You can think differently. When we sit all day, especially for those of us who sit in front of a computer, you sit in the same place. Our brains feel like they can’t think of new ideas and they can’t release a lot of things. Maybe that works for you. Maybe it doesn’t. 

Having a mantra. It is like the rubber band on your wrist kind of thing. It’s like this too shall pass. I can trust myself with food. I am safe right now. It is okay to be hungry. Nothing has gone wrong. Nothing is going wrong. I can take a break right now. 

Some of the frameworks I like to use when I’m having a lot of mind drama and urges or I feel overwhelmed with my thoughts and I don’t even know where to go is, I try to say okay;

  • What am I making this mean?
  • What could I think instead right now? 
  • What would be more helpful to me? 
  • How can I help myself right now?

Sometimes just asking a better question.

If you’re like, I’m not good with mantras, ask yourself a better question. 

  • How could I be my own best friend right now? 
  • What would I say if I were my own cheerleader right now? 
  • What would I say to my 10 year old self right now? 
  • If you saw you’re the younger version of yourself, walking around the kitchen, opening all the cabinets, opening the refrigerator feeling restless, bored, anxious, wouldn’t you be like,
    • Hey, what’s up? 
    • What’s going on? 
    • What’s on your mind? 
    • You want to talk about it? 
    • What can I help you with? 

Sometimes we have to do that for ourselves.

A huge for women who want to lose weight and keep it off, is that we tend to over restrict. We tend to under-eat as a way to lose weight. If I eat less, I’ll lose weight faster. And here’s a cool thing. As we get older, especially in the 40+ and as we get closer to menopause that seems to hit us smack dab in the face. It doesn’t work. Yeah, when you were 19 years old, could you go all week without food? Could you just eat the carrot diet or whatever? Sure. Not anymore. 

This is just a process of the hormones involved in menopause. It’s also a process of the world. We live in a post COVID world. A lot of crazy things  in the economy. More stress. If you want to stress your body out more, under-eat, restrict. The more you restrict, and the more you under eat, the more cravings, temptations, and urges you are going to have. You’re constantly going to be thinking about food. 

If we could just eat meals that we plan. Things that taste reasonably good. Doesn’t have to be a party in your mouth, but you will feel more satisfied. When we are more satisfied, we’re not daydreaming about food. We’re not looking at others and feeling resentment when they eat the ice cream, because we know we can eat it too. Nothing is off limits. Maybe your mantra is that nothing is off limits. Nothing has gone wrong, I can plan to eat that. This is the idea of delayed gratification.

Delayed gratification. We live in a amazon.com world. Fast weight loss. Give it to me now. Go on Optavia. Get any kind of medication. I just need to lose it fast. Gastric bypass. None of that is actually fast. There is no fast weight loss. You know why it’s not fast, because then you gain it back just as fast or faster. So going slower, is faster. Eating food, feeding your body, letting go of some every single diet rule. 

Lots of people will complain that their weight loss is slow and they lose four or five pounds a month. If you think about it, if I lost four pounds a month, that’s one pound a week. That is good weight loss. That is steady weight loss. That is actually normal weight loss. Where you’re probably going to be tapping into fat stores and not losing all your muscle mass. 

When we lose weight fast, you know what’s happening? A lot of water weight and a lot of muscle is lost. You do not gain the muscle back. When you gain the weight back, you’re gaining back fat mass. That’s why you feel heavier than you started with. if we want to change this direction, slow is fast. 

Sometimes we have to delay gratification, again being the parent of our primitive brain. Here’s the phrase, I can plan for that tomorrow. Repeat after me. I can plan for that tomorrow. If I see my kids eating ice cream and I have a thought, I should get ice cream. I want ice cream. I need ice cream. It’s not fair that they have ice cream. I want it now. You can do whatever you want. But here’s a thought, you can plan for that tomorrow. 

Literally put it in your plan in writing. I will wake up tomorrow. I’m having ice cream after dinner. Are we going out for it? What flavor? How much? Plan for it. I know it sounds crazy, but it works. When I have an urge or I’m thinking oh geez, I should get this or I should have that or what I know that this is in the house or I’m thinking about eating XYZ, I asked myself what will this solve? Am I really hungry? If I saw steak tips and broccoli on a plate would I eat that instead? Because if yes then I actually am hungry. If I’m thinking about getting chips or candy or ice cream or whatever, and I’m not hungry, then what am I trying to solve? 

Ask yourself what will this solve? Let your brain answer it and it will solve nothing. It’s just filling time. It’s just filling our mouths. It’s just avoiding something. Sometimes it’s just, I have nothing to do, I’m bored or this is what we always do. 

We have a habit loop and the action of eating feels like it’s just on autopilot. It’s automated but it is driven by thoughts and feelings. It was driven somewhere. It didn’t come out of nowhere. It could be as simple as everyone having dessert after dinner. It could be as simple as I love ice cream, I deserve a treat, I need to relax, this is my time, I earned this.

Ask yourself what will this solve? You already know the answer. Or how will I feel after I eat this? How will you feel physically after you eat it? A lot of times we’ll feel physically gross, bloated, full. It’s very easy to overeat the kinds of foods that we have urges for. It’s very easy to overeat ice cream, it instantly dissolves in your mouth. You could probably eat a gallon of ice cream. You’ll feel terrible, but you can do it. Think about, how will I feel mentally? 

How will I feel tomorrow? How will I feel when evaluating my goals? I don’t need to eat it. I want to eat it. I can have urges all day long. I have urges to punch people in the face. I have an urge to ram a car that’s going to slow. I have an urge to yell at the lady at the grocery store who has the 32 coupons. We all have urges that we don’t act on. Because they’re not socially acceptable. However, I think when we are alone in our kitchen and no one’s around, we can do what we want. Until we get more intel, more awareness and we exert our prefrontal cortex on our primitive brain. We get very clear on our goals.

If our goal is to lose weight and keep it off, we have to remember what our goal is and why we want it. We have to have a very strong vision of the goal and where we’re going in order to work this way. If I only have this idea that I need to lose weight, I need to lose weight, I need to lose weight, I just have to lose weight, I should weigh less. I shouldn’t weigh this. It’s very ambiguous. 

You need to know exactly what you want. Why you want it. What it’s going to look like. What it’s going to feel like. You have to be really in touch with that. Otherwise, we’re going to be fighting urges all the time and probably giving into them. 

When I asked myself, how will I feel after this? How will I feel on Monday? If you’re like I don’t care? Then we need to go back to the drawing board and figure out, do you even want to lose weight? Maybe you don’t. Maybe it’s something else. And that’s okay, too. 

Maybe your goal is to become stronger or leaner. Have more muscle definition, more energy, better digestion, or a flat stomach. It’s not necessarily a number on the scale. You don’t have to have a number on the scale of victory in order to lose weight.

Connection. I think this is very impactful. I find myself doing this when I need to calm down, relax, or create space in my life and in my brain. Connecting with yourself. You’re literally putting your hand on your heart, even if it’s not on your heart. It could be somewhere on your chest or anywhere on your body. It’s like a virtual hug. Ask yourself what is it that you’re hungry for? What do you need right now? Even if you have no go to statement.

This is almost like being in the front seat of the car as a kid, your mom or dad would instinctively put their hand out as the car came to a sudden stop. This is that. It isn’t about resisting the urge. Resisting willpower. You can’t have them. This is bad. You should know better. You need to like man up, you need to not have them. You should be stronger. It’s about understanding. I have a human brain. It’s going to do human brain things. I just want to know what is triggering this? Is this just a habit I’ve gotten into? What can I do instead? I want to get more of that kind and curious angle going because that’s going to give me the incentive to employ the strategies.

If I am like, I suck. This isn’t working. I should be further along. I shouldn’t be struggling with this. I should know better. I can’t believe I’m here. What is wrong with me? I’m not going to do strategy. I’m going to beat myself up, ruminate over it, be pissed off, repeat, rinse, repeat, rinse, repeat. 

The only way to get into action is to be curious, kind, feel like I can figure this out. I can help myself here. This is normal. Of course this is happening. This is just an old habit. This is an old story from my past. I’m learning something new. Then I’m going to pick a strategy. You don’t have to do all of this. 

Part of flexible, flexible dieting, or flexible nutrition is planning the kinds of foods that I’ve been trying to resist. The things that I think are bad or I shouldn’t have. The stuff that people who are losing weight or have lost weight, don’t eat. That is simply not true. But I want to plan it in advance. Not like, Oh, it’s 6pm. I feel kind of sad, lonely, tired, I’ll have ice cream. No, it means tomorrow morning when I wake up, and I’m planning my day. If I think that I would have ice cream tonight, I’m gonna put it in writing. 

  • If you’re resisting any of the planning your meals ahead, one piece of advice I have for you is just keep a meal journal. Keep a log of the food as you go so that you can make it safe for your brain. Our brains are resisting it because our brain thinks Oh, shit, if I plan food in advance, What if I don’t follow my plan? 
  • What if I can’t follow my plan?
  • What if I don’t want that? 
  • What if that’s not offered? 

It’s trying to save you from failure, but you cannot fail. This is fail proof. It’s not a binary thing. Either you’re successful, or you’re a failure. Let’s figure out how we can make it work. 

Pick an action that you think might work for you. Even if it is, I’m just gonna practice putting my hand on my heart. See how that feels. That’s easy. I didn’t have to do any journaling. I didn’t have to do anything. Because I will resist that. I get it, our brain is going to resist anything that feels hard or that I might fail at. That doesn’t seem important or like it could work. But I’m telling you, it will. It takes time. We’re practicing. We’re practicing patience. 


Bonnie Lefrak is a Life & Body Transformation Expert and Founder of Self Made, a program designed to help you tackle the physical aspects of health and weight loss as well as the beliefs and thoughts that drive our habits and behaviors. It is her goal to help women create certainty in their own lives, their own results, and their own abilities.

Weight loss is not about the one “right” diet – it is about MUCH more than that. Weight loss is not about the one “right” workout. Weight loss is not about being positive and putting a big smile on.

Weight loss is about FEELINGS. All of them. Not trying to bury them or hide from them but knowing and allowing the full human experience. Weight loss is not about grinding hustling and will powering your way to some end line. Transformation (when done well) is done from the inside out.

By addressing both the physical and mental aspects of dieting and weight loss, she has coached thousands of women ages 30-55+ from all over and helped them ditch the mindsets that are holding them back, achieve permanent weight loss, and get the bangin’ body of their dreams.

Bonnie is an expert at Demystifying weight loss. She helps you u****k your diet brain. She is on a mission to help women love themselves, to find PEACE in the process of losing weight, taking care of themselves, and leveraging the power they do have to become who and want they want right now.

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