The 8 Biggest Reasons You Struggle With Consistency
Consistency is the magic key - but why is it so hard?
We’re bombarded with weight loss, diet, and healthy eating advice every day and everyone says the same thing about whatever they happen to be promoting.
Theirs is the healthiest.
Theirs will cure disease.
Theirs will create the fastest weight loss.
Theirs will ensure lasting weight loss (that's a full-on lie, none of them do).
Blah, blah, blah...
Literally, they all claim the same things but they all require the same thing to be effective - and without this one thing, they're basically useless.
You don’t even need a “diet” all you need is consistency with whatever changes you're trying to make.
Notice the key point in those two truths?
Without consistency, they are all completely worthless – actually, worse than worthless. Dieting often causes a whole host of other problems, both mental and physical, in a large majority of people.
They cause more harm than good. But I digress... back to consistency.
So, consistency is the biggest factor in determining whether or not you’ll be successful at any attempt to change your body or your lifestyle choices.
Without it, nothing will work. With it, just about anything will.
But consistency is the exact thing that most people can't achieve.
That’s why so many people spend so many decades hopping back and forth between dozens of different diets – trying to find that magic one.
But it rarely works because they ignore the underlying reasons why people struggle with consistency.
There are several specific things I’ve seen happening in people over the years that most commonly keep people from being consistent.
See if any of these ring true for you.
The eight biggest ones in no particular order are:
1. You're trying to restrict your food intake.
Our brains are incredibly complex and have, since the beginning of time, been designed for survival. They have all kinds of little tricks to make sure we stay alive and the wiring in our habit center is one of them.
What’s the first thing that happens when certain foods are off-limits? You almost certainly can’t stop thinking about it and craving it, right? The harder you try not to think about it, the more you tend to want it.
That’s a survival instinct that’s literally been hard-wired into our brains since the beginning of time. Food equals survival so when food restriction is introduced, our brains get scared and start trying to force us to “cave” and eat that thing we think we’re not supposed to have. Then, when we finally do cave, our brains get rewarded because they love food! That’s when the habit center kicks in and starts wiring the cycle of craving and caving as an auto-pilot habit that we don’t even really control after a while. The more you do it, the more you teach your brain that cravings = rewards and the harder it becomes to “stick to” anything.
Have you noticed that when you first started dieting it seemed easier to stick to them and the more years that have passed the harder it’s become? That’s why. The longer this cycle repeats, the more ingrained the act of “caving” becomes. The better your brain gets at convincing you to cave. This is one of the biggest reasons most people struggle with dieting or even traditional "healthy eating" – because it's all so restrictive of food or certain foods.
2. Self-sabotage from limiting beliefs/the way we feel about ourselves.
The stories that we tell ourselves about weight, food, our bodies, what we're capable of, even our worth determine the outcome of damn near everything in our lives.
If we continually tell ourselves we're failures, we're quitters, we always screw up anyway, we believe those things to be true of ourselves and we act accordingly.
When we don’t trust ourselves or believe in our ability to be successful, we self-sabotage - because why on earth would we keep going when things get tough if we don’t think we can do it anyway?
If we’ve already decided going in that we’re just going to screw up because we always do, we’ll just keep quitting as soon as it gets tough or inconvenient.
Also, when we don’t like, value, or love ourselves, we self-sabotage because we don’t believe we deserve to be successful. Unless and until you change those things, consistency will always be a struggle.
3. The change model.
Again, another fun little trick our brains play on us. It’s a normal cycle when we’re trying to change because our brains do NOT like change and do everything they can to keep the status quo.
So, the change model looks like this: First, there’s the discontent. We don’t like something like say our weight. Second, the breaking point. This is when we can’t take it anymore and brings us into the next phase of the cycle, the declaration. “This is IT this time, I’m really doing it!” which brings us to the next phase: fear. When we start doing things differently and our brains get scared. Remember, they don’t like change so they start making up a bunch of things for us to be afraid of. When it gets too overloaded with fear, it kinda shuts down which brings us to the next phase in the change model: amnesia. This is where we start forgetting why we wanted to change in the first place. The goals we set weeks or months ago start feeling completely unimportant and we just stop caring about them. This leads to backtracking on any progress we may have made while we slip back into the old habits that our brains are comfortable with.. until we start to feel that discontent again and the cycle just keeps repeating.
The change model: Discontent > breaking point > declaration > fear > amnesia > backtracking > repeat will just keep replaying until you recognize it for what it is and learn to manage it.
Fear is a huge reason we struggle with consistency, see the change model above. Not just because our brains don’t like change as in the last one, but often, carrying extra pounds often makes people feel safe – if there’s a history of physical or sexual abuse, this is especially true. Often people who are struggling with their identity will also feel safer with extra weight because it helps them feel more invisible. No matter where the fear is coming from, it will cause self-sabotaging behaviors if you’re not aware of it and don’t have a plan to manage it.
5. Emotional eating.
Some level of emotional eating is pretty normal for most people on occasion but if you’re someone who relies heavily on food for everything, whenever you’re bored or stressed or upset or anything… you’re going to keep falling back on your go-to coping strategy and consistency will never happen until you learn to better manage emotions.
6. Don’t want it bad enough.
This is a really common one. If your why isn’t big enough, if you don’t want it badly enough, you’re going to struggle with consistency every time it starts getting hard. You really have to dig into your deeper why – fitting into a certain clothing size or seeing some number on the scale simply aren’t generally big enough motivators for most people so what’s your real underlying why?
7. Relying on motivation & thinking you need to do everything.
This is SUCH a big one. Most people have this idea about what it takes to “live a healthy lifestyle” or “get fit” or lose weight – that is that it’s all about suffering. We’ve been taught that it takes alllll the exercise and alllll the food restrictions and that it’s hard work. So we waste time doing nothing while waiting for enough “motivation” to start again. When motivation is high, we jump back in doing ALLL the things. Motivation is powerful when it’s high but it literally never, ever lasts. For anyone. Ever. And when it inevitably dips, as it always does, we have absolutely no interest in continuing to do allll the things anymore and it becomes a never-ending cycle of starting and stopping.
8. Focusing on weight, goals, rules, trying to force "healthy lifestyle" choices and other external elements.
Focusing on the externals sets you up for failure every time and keeps you focused on what you think you "should be" doing rather than what you and your body genuinely need and want.
I spoke a lot about this in this past conversation that I had with my friend Amanda (SimplyStylish.ca) so pop over there and check that out for more on what I say that.
Basically, it's not your outer world that needs to change, it's your inner world because that's what's creating your current reality.
That's the bottom line of every single one of these points. They all come down to what's happening in your inner world.
That's what drives your choices and that's what we'll work on transforming when you join the Cognitive Eating Academy.
EMBODIED COGNITIVE EATING TRAINING CAN HELP YOU
The Academy is a specialized group coaching course. It combines a wide range of scientifically proven, evidence based modalities into an easy-to-follow step-by-step process that helps you understand why you can't stop eating in ways that don't serve your best interests and how to stop. It has been meticulously crafted and tested for almost three years with one goal in mind - helping you move past all the things that are keeping you stuck repeating the same self-destructive patterns so you can find peace and start living and feeling better.