Respecting Your Triggers

It’s the first full week of the new year and depending on what type of person you are, maybe you got motivated to pursue your health goals on January 2 this year. However, this year January 2 fell on a Thursday. So, you might be a particular type of person who decided they would start on January 6, a Monday.

Neither approach is wrong, neither is right. You just have to determine which is better for you.

Within that conversation, you also have to look at where things may have gone awry for you over the holidays.

Eat too many cookies?

Drink too much alcohol?

Skip too many workouts?

I get it. I do.

The last two months of the year (especially in America) is tough for people to stick with their plan. Between social events, travel and just the emotional pull of the holidays, it can get messy.

Now that we are (collectively) through it, how are you managing?

For me, I have to look at my trigger foods. Chances are, you might have to as well.

I always talk about my love of cookies. I do love them, all kinds. I kid you not, over the last two weeks of December, we literally had hundreds of cookies in our house. My wife made many. I had clients and friends gift us with more. I felt like an alcoholic walking into a liquor store.

While I have rarely associated with emotional eating, I do have an issue with boredom eating and simply eating things that I have easy access to.

In my case, I do exponentially better with my own eating when my trigger foods are not in the house. It isn’t often that I will go out of my way to buy them if they’re not under my roof.

It isn’t just cookies though. I have to watch sweets in general and things like french fries, chips, pizza and crackers. I simply have little to no self control when they’re around.

Where it gets potentially sticky, is with regard to my marriage. My wife doesn’t have the same triggers that I do. As the holidays were winding down I was heading out of town for a few days to visit family.

I asked my wife, “Can you please throw the cookies away?”

To which she replied, “Why? I don’t really even eat them.”

“Yes,” I said, “But you are not me and I can’t stop eating them.”

Sure enough, she pitched the majority of them. You may have to have a similar conversation with your own spouse/significant other.

And this is less a conversation about low carb, low fat, no sugar, etc. etc.

It’s about managing the foods you realize you cannot control.

Not every coach will agree with me on this. I’m okay with that.

When I talk about respecting your triggers, it’s with the assumption that you see some degree of powerlessness in your food choices. If you’re like me, I can just “know” that a trigger food is in the house and I’ll want it. If it’s not here, I will NOT go out of my way to get it.

It may prove helpful for you if you determine the same for yourself.

There is also the conversation about what we, as individuals, can moderate versus what we can abstain from.

It can be a slippery slope. Many clients of mine feel that they can moderate certain foods when, in fact, their eating behaviors show otherwise. Be mindful of that for yourself.

In my case, I carry my background in drug addiction and I see how it has some overlap in food. If the trigger food is close, if it’s easy to consume/over-consume, I will go overboard. My only safeguard is to completely remove the trigger. For more on this, I would recommend you to listen to my most recent conversation with Dr. Lisa Lewis on addiction HERE.

There’s another tactic you may have to utilize as well: online grocery shopping. For many people, the temptation of walking through aisles of hyper-palatable “junk” is too much for them to resist. Then, you have to consider the impulse items of candies and sweets lined up at the register. Things that you did not even have a taste for when you walked in to grab your groceries are now in your cart and will soon be in your mouth.

Online grocery shopping can help you circumvent this issue. Make a list of what you need, purchase online and then have a staff member escort your groceries out to your car. This saves time, money and your waistline.

I would love to tell that with practice around your trigger foods they will no longer be an issue. That would be a lie. They may always be an issue. Your best strategy is to manage your exposure to them rather than assume that a certain amount of time away will magically “cure” your desire for them. At best, you could experience a reduction in desire but if you’re confronted with those trigger foods again, it could snowball into an all-out binge affair. I don’t say that lightly.

In a similar way as a recovering alcoholic has to determine the distance they keep between themselves and the sight and smell of alcohol, you may have to decide how certain foods can be around you. I don’t correlate this with the notion of “food addiction” rather, learn what you can control. Respect what you cannot.

As your weight gets to a better place for you, decide what foods can be introduced back into your lifestyle. This is determined on an individual basis but you will need the support of loved ones and friends to help you navigate the dietary battlefield.

As a final thought, in respecting your trigger foods, have other coping mechanisms on hand aside from food and drink. Life will continue to be stressful, things will not go according to plan. Start formulating paths you can travel to handle stress and boredom that don’t require a trip to the pantry or fridge. Then again, if you’re like me, you’ll throw those foods out after reading this and reduce your temptation immediately.

Better the devil you know…

Below is our very own Faith (pulling a stunner of 365 pounds in the trapbar) who successfully lost 8 pounds in her first month with us and through the December holiday season. I believe that since she could succeed at that time of year, she’ll continue to do so now that the dust has settled from the holidays.

“We Make Great People Greater”