Learning to regulate your impulses… food, laziness, alcohol, drugs, tobacco, risky behavior, etc… improves mood; decreases psychological symptoms; improves self-esteem, self-confidence, and self-worth; improves interpersonal relationships; and improves overall level of functioning. Poor self-control leads to agitation, irritability, aggression, lack of patience, difficulty concentrating, obsessive and intrusive thoughts, low self-esteem, social isolation, depression, and anxiety. All of which make achieving your weight loss goals more difficult.
Know your triggers… those things that make you more likely to lose control: alcohol, drugs, sleep, certain people, stress, work, etc. Self-control is highly tied to our thoughts, feelings, and the situations we find ourselves in each day and each moment. It is extremely important to learn to better understand your body, your mind, and your situation; to prepare you to handle things as they come. We are faced with the need for self-control numerous times throughout the day, particularly when it comes to making healthy choices toward our weight loss goals. One bad situation can change your mood in an instant and lead to losing control and getting off track.
Pay attention to your general emotional state, calmness, patience, and self-control on a daily basis:
- Were you shorter with kids, partner, friends, family, co-workers today?
- Were you generally negative or pessimistic today?
- Did you find yourself ruminating on something that happened previously or something upcoming in the future?
- Did you turn to alcohol, food, drugs, skip a workout, etc.?
- Did you feel physically ill, tense, headaches, etc.?
- Did you skip out on work, school, a personal commitment, your typical routine?
- Did you find yourself having difficulty concentrating?
Next, pay attention to situational factors:
- How did you sleep last night?
- Have you had a recent fight with someone?
- Was work more stressful?
- Is a loved one ill?
- Do you have something big coming up… good or bad?
- Have you had a change in living situation, work situation, family situation?
How do you feel about your behavior, thoughts, feelings today?
- If you were fighting with your partner did you hold on too long? Did you take it out on someone else? Is it really built from past resentments, and if so are there things you need to communicate about and/or let go?
- Is work too stressful? Do you need to make a change?
- What changes would have you liked to make today? Are there more permanent changes that could help with day to day stress level?
When you begin to understand what the factors are where you seem to lack control, you can work to identify them sooner and create a healthier plan for coping with or avoiding these things. Planning is as important here as it is with meals and exercise! Plan for how you will deal with stressful situations and times you may be tempted to lose control!
“If you can learn self-control, you can master anything.”