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Ciara has well and truly been one-two-stepping her way across the UK this week (bonus points if you know the reference!). The stormy weather has made it harder to get out for runs and made it that bit more tempting to stay inside and veg out.
And vegging out can often mean those snacks around the house start talking to you. Which got me thinking about snacking for this weeks email.
Limiting or cutting out snacking is a key skill I coach in my Lean Living Coaching Program. Why? Because the calories can silently add up as well as limit your ability to sense your hunger and fullness. All of this will only increase the amount you eat without feeling any more satisfied. Not great if your goal is weight loss.
Snacking is often ad lib. It happens when you're bored, tired, stressed or distracted. A biscuit here when you're bored. A chocolate there when the team at work crack open a box.
What's needed first is the awareness of your snack habit to help you change the habit itself. We want to put a spotlight on how often and how much you snack, because it's easy to overdo the snacks without even remembering. (I've been there. I was convinced I was not eating a load. After a few days of tracking I was surprised to see just how much I was reaching for the snack cupboard!). You can only change what your are aware of.
If your snack habit surprises you then you may be ready to work on strengthening your willpower. To help you slow down in the moment and say "no" more often those tempting snacks. By slowing down you are able to question your urges and conquer your habit. "Do I really want a cookie, or is there another way I can satisfy my boredom?"
That's the great thing about willpower. It can be strengthened. And with it you can become more resilient. It's no different to training your muscles to get stronger in the gym. Here's a great exercise to practice to build your willpower muscles and help you see better results with less effort:
The 5-minute rule to strengthen your willpower
- You have a sudden urge to eat that Oreo that's sitting across from you on the desk.
- STOP! The goal is to slow down the process between the thought or urge and actually following through with the action.
- Tell yourself you can have the Oreo in 5-minutes if you still want it.
- Once the 5-minutes are up you can repeat the same process again.
- You may become distracted and forget all about the snack. Or you might realise you didn't really want the snack. Or you might have the snack. Either way you have slowed down the time between your urges and your actions.
This is something that I learned in The Willpower Instinct. It is similar to learning to reduce your impulse purchases. If you want to buy something, you wait it out until the next day. Often you realise you did not really need or want that impulse purchase.
Give it a go today. If you last one 5-minute cycle then you are taking a step in the right direction. It won't be perfect. Some days you will cave. Others you will feel strong and hold out. Over time you will learn to say "no" more often than you say "yes" and take a bigger step towards achieving your goals.