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How to stop your emotional brain from hijacking healthy weight loss

Trying to be healthy or trying to lose weight can trigger the survival instinct and cause “All or Nothing” thinking which leads to stress.

Are you familiar with the recurrent pattern of being good, eating healthy, exercising, sticking to your plan all day, and then blowing it in the evening?

“All or Nothing” thinking can lead you down the path of self-sabotage


Maybe you are chilling out on the sofa, or watching TV, and your thoughts turn to snacking. You have had dinner, you are not hungry but there is something nagging away inside your mind. You have worked hard all day. You have been good. You deserve a treat. Something small won’t do any harm…. You justify and rationalise your craving.

Rationalise = rational lies


A craving takes you by the hand and leads you astray. You quietly raid the fridge or the cupboard, or maybe you decide you really need to pop to the petrol station… wherever you can get your fix.

At this point, your brain is flooded with dopamine, the hormone that propels you into action. You just have to go get it. You can’t help yourself. You are on a mission. It’s almost as if you are in a trance.

Then comes the instant gratification moment, nothing else matters except satisfying that need. Junk food, bingeing, sweet things, stuff you really don’t want to be eating but you are blind to it. Or you know what you are doing but you just don’t care. For a short time, your brain swims in serotonin, the happy hormone.

And then regret, guilt or shame floods in along with the name calling. Why did I have to eat that? Why am I such a pig? I’ll never be slim and healthy. Who am I trying to kid anyway? I might as well forget it. I’m wasting my time.

DON’T DESPAIR – IT’S NOT YOUR FAULT


There are several things going on at a sub-conscious level.

  • Your brain gets caught in a loop. The reward system, part of the ancient survival instinct, kicks in big time when you place restrictions on yourself. It fights back;

  • Your logical, rational brain temporarily goes off-line and your focus is fixed on instant gratification;

  • A vicious cycle once begun has to be completed.

    What you can do:


    Prevention is better than cure.

    Avoid All or Nothing thinking “All or Nothing” means you are either a winner or a loser, a success or a failure. This kind of thinking is rigid and unhelpful and causes you to feel stress when you don’t live up to 100% perfect. When you feel stressed you go into survival mode and lose the ability to think straight. Accept you are imperfect and you will make mistakes, you will slip up from time to time and it’s ok.

    Live in an abundance mindset You can have what you want when you want it, it’s your choice. There is no shortage of food, drink or comfort.

    Show yourself compassion and love – If you do have an unhealthy snack, learn from it. Rather than beating yourself up with harsh self-talk, speak to yourself as if you were your best friend, understand that it’s ok to make a mistake, and move on. There is no need to dwell on it.

    Plan ahead You can have a healthy snack that won’t sabotage your healthy lifestyle, or find something else to do that you enjoy – for example - phone a friend, read an inspiring book, write in your journal or go for a walk. Pleasure can be found in places other than food.

    Recognise the pattern and say “thank you”. Awareness and acceptance will keep you balanced. Put yourself into investigator mode. What is your body actually telling you? It may be you need something other than food or drink or it may just be an old habit playing out. Are you just bored?

    Learn to recognise true hunger from false hunger True hunger is in the stomach. False hunger is in your head. If you are hungry, eat something healthy. If you are not truly hungry discover what is really going on.

    Ask yourself "What do I really want?" Is your goal to be a happy healthy weight long term or is it just to satisfy yourself in the moment? Dig deep and be honest with yourself.

    It’s your choice You can have what you want – do you really want that snack or do you want to be a healthy weight, attractive, full of energy and vitality, and look amazing? It’s always your choice. Different choices produce different outcomes.

    If you want help to reprogramme your mind for success the easy way, get in touch with me for a free consultation.

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