Over the past five days I have been sharing with you some of the tools I use within my coaching – both the self-coaching that I do, and the coaching that I do with my clients.
I tend to do this via questioning rather than sitting and writing a plan with people – as it’s quite personal stuff…YOU have to create it because it’s YOUR plan and YOUR responsibility.
Last Friday I attended a course run by some people from ‘The Chimp Management‘ team. Personally, I didn’t get a huge amount out of it – as I already use these tools in a variety of forms and from a variety of sources. I also felt that some of the information provided surrounding nutrition was quite dated. However, I know that a lot of the people on the course really did get something out of it and ‘The Chimp Paradox’ demystifies some of the psychology surrounding emotions – I definitely recommend the book!
For me, I think that what people got out of it was the time to really think about what it was that they are trying to achieve. We know that we want to shift a bit of weight – for me I want to be fitter and healthier…the weight loss is a by-product of this now…my focus has shifted! Rarely do we give any thought to the head stuff – we might plan our meals or plan our exercise…but when do you plan the head stuff?! When do you sit and look at how you behave in certain situations and then plan your alternative and possibly more productive options? It tends to be our heads and our emotions that let us down…
So I wanted to try and get you thinking about this.
I hope it helped in some small way?
Personally, I am going to grab some time this weekend to sit and rethink my action plan. I have written a few of them over the past couple of years and I have noticed how they change. I like to look at mine every six months – or even every three months depending upon my progress levels.
My action plan for this year surrounds staying focused now that life is easier. When I was at my biggest I didn’t really go out and socialise. My focus was all on my weight and getting moving off my sofa. I now have a job, go out a fair bit, get to the gym regularly, can rock-climb, can canoe all day, can row 11k at the gym…so my priorities are very different – they now link to not getting swayed in social situations…like visits to ‘The Pudding Club’ and the carvery that I visited and over-ate at last night – I need to work on my ‘fuck it’ button!
Given that the action planning was delivered over five nights, I thought that it might be good to re-cap it all.
The first section surrounded expressing what it is that you really want:
- What outcome do you want?
- What are the benefits of achieving this outcome?
- What are likely to be the costs / suffering of striving to achieve this outcome?
- What does success look like? Think about both the rational and irrational sides of your mind here…
- What might partial success look like?
- What have you done in the past that has been unsuccessful and why?
- What have you done in the past that has been successful and why?
The second section surrounded the detailing of psychological and physiological challenges and working out how to tackle these:
- Emotional – such as eating to solve a problem (loneliness, boredom, due to a stressful job…)
- Habits – such as always clearing your plate no matter how full you are, or always serving up big portions…mine is always saving the best until last on my plate, which means that I always clear my plate as I don’t want to leave the good stuff!
- Uninformed choices – such as misunderstanding the affect of foods on your body – sugar for example – or not understanding how many calories are in the foods you eat versus how much energy you use in a day.
- Deceit – tricking yourself…’it was only a snack’ or ‘it was just leftovers…they don’t count!’
- Taking a while to feel full
- Genetic disposition
- Physical conditions – do you eat more when you feel tired, or cold, or have drunk alcohol?
This section for me was about raising awareness – not about becoming perfect and thinking that we can solve these issues – we want to have choices and not feel backed into a corner by our behaviour. I think one of the most frustrating positions to find yourself in is having done something but not understanding why you did it. If you understand why you behave the way that you do, then you have choices. You can train your brain – or your chimp – to makes better choices most of the time. Note – I said most of the time…there will be times when our irrational mind gets the better of us!
The third section focussed upon resources that you might need in order to achieve your goal:
- What physical items might you need?
- What further information might you need and where can you get it?
- What support might you need and where can you get it – or who from?
- What encouragement might you need and who can help you with that?
- What level of accountability do you need and who do you feel would help you with this?
The fourth section focussed upon starting your plan…and keeping it moving. Here are the questions that you need to ask yourself and answer honestly:
- When will you start your plan?
- What are the obstacles – what is stopping you from starting…and what can you do about this?
- How will you monitor progress?
- How will you celebrate success?
- In what circumstances is your chimp (irrational thoughts!) likely to hijack and how can you plan for this?
- How do you usually respond to setback…both rationally and irrationally?
- What do you tell yourself after a setback…both immediately and after some thought and consideration?
- What can you tell yourself when you find yourself wanting to give up?
The final section was about checking the plan – ‘CORE’:
Commitment – Are you clear about what it is that you are trying to achieve? Do you have a clear plan?
Ownership – Do you really own your plan…do you believe in it? Can anyone else sway you from your action plan?
Responsibility – Are you prepared to take responsibility for your irrational thoughts (your chimp!) and do you have plans in place to deal with this…as it will happen!
Excellence – Do you know what your best looks like?
Finally – who can you ask to check your plan? Do you want someone to check it for you…or are you prepared to deal with your chimp on your own?!
And that’s it – that’s the way to structure your action plan and to get thinking and focused. I did say that my goal was to not have to think about food…and this process seems to do just that. But in order to become unconsciously competent at something, we first have to work hard at becoming consciously competent at it…which means focus, dedication, learning, reflection, and honing your skill.
I need to learn from my previous experiences – what has gone well, what hasn’t gone so well. And then I need to constantly revisit my plan…as things change. What was once a priority is no longer a priority.
You don’t need to include any of the above stuff if you don’t want to. Your plan needs to be exactly that – yours! Focus on what strikes a chord with you, learn from lessons in your past, and build upon the good stuff.
On that note I will leave you for the night. I am taking my Mum and Mr WLB out for a lovely meal at a seafood restaurant – Mr WLB will end up having steak or a burger as he hates seafood…which means I can enjoy his share of oysters I guess!
Thank you for reading,
Weight Loss Bitch xxx