Ep #10: Cravings, Urges and What to Do with Them

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Last week on It's Never Too Late to Lose Weight, I asked you to notice your desire and whether or not you want to stop desiring foods that were keeping you overweight and adding to your health problems. On this week's episode, I want to address a real game changer when it comes to losing weight and keeping it off – lessening your desire.

By understanding the biological process that happens in our brains to trigger our desire and over-desire for foods that don't serve us, we can learn to recondition our brains. This process, just like any endeavor that leads to great reward and lasting change, takes time and attention but you can retrain your body and your brain... and I'm going to show you how.

Click "Play" below and let's get started!

Make sure to download last episode's worksheet on how to examine your desire for certain foods and grab a copy of the 100 Allowed Urges worksheet

And finally, I am excited to announce the winner of the Motiv Ring Activity Tracker. But first, a big thank you to all of you who took the time to listen, review and send me an email confirming your review. I LOVE YOU ALL. Congratulations Joan-Alice Burn!

Listen to the Full Episode:

What You'll Learn from this Episode:

  • How to know if you're over desiring food.
  • How the dopamine reward system drives cravings and urges.
  • Where disempowering thoughts about yourself show up in your struggle to resist an urge.
  • A 2-step exercise to help you recondition your brain.

Featured on the Show:

Full Episode Transcript:

Welcome to It's Never Too Late to Lose Weight, a podcast for women approaching 60 who have been successful at everything but reaching their weight loss goals. Tune in each week for tools and strategies to help you lose weight, create a strong body, and support a healthy mind. Here's your host, certified weight and life coach, Pat Beaupre Becker.

Hello my dears, I am feeling so amazing. Last week I had the flu and I felt like under - like I got hit by a Mack Truck. So today I feel like Wonder Woman. I've been to the gym and my body is just healing and I feel fantastic.

You know, I had this conversation recently with two very different clients, who had amazingly similar thoughts about themselves. And that thought was that they were weak. They did not feel like Superwoman, right? Now, each of these women, as I said, they were so different, but they were both very amazing. But they each believed that the fact that they were never able to lose weight and keep it off, or the fact that they made some bad decisions in their past somehow made them weak.

Now, I want to tell you, these were two very badass women. They had amazing accomplishments, both in their careers, and one of them as a mother. But this thought, that their past and their mistakes made them weak, it just really blew my mind. I mean, I don't know why it blew my mind. I used to think that way too. But I guess the difference between feeling the way I used to feel and the way I feel now is just so amazing.

Now, I know that I learned to take a different look at my past. I look at it now from what did I receive from it, what did I learn from it, how did I become the woman I am because of my past, and as a result of doing that work and that reframing, I know that I am a strong woman, I'm creative, I'm fun, and I have a lot more appreciation of myself.

And even though I have a past, even though I made so many mistakes, and I'm not blind to my faults that I have today, right? I have a bundle of faults and you only have to ask the people closest to me if you want to know what they are.

But this idea of seeing ourselves, especially as women, as weak, is disempowering, and I want it to stop. So I want you to listen to this podcast, print out the worksheets and do the work because it is empowering when you realize that the way you think about yourself, about your weight, about food has a huge impact on your behavior.

So today I want to address what's a real game changer when it comes to losing weight and keeping it off, and that is learning to lessen your desire. Last week I asked you if you wanted not to desire the foods that were keeping you overweight and adding to your health problems. And maybe for some of you, that could be actually having an allergic reaction to food. Let's say you're allergic to milk and ice cream, and yet you keep eating it.

For others, it could be Oreos, or maybe it's Tate's ginger cookies. I wonder where that came from. Or maybe it's Tater Tots or any local fast food restaurant. Now, you know the food, you know what it is that you over-desire, because despite your best efforts to stop choosing them, you end up eating them every time. You just give in. Now, we have over-desire that's created in our subconscious minds because of the many beliefs we have about food, right? That's one part of it. And then we have over-desire that's created in our brains by the habit of this food giving us this intense dopamine reward. And the more intense that reward is, the more the desire is intensified. And the more we receive that dopamine, it causes the down-regulation of it where your body doesn't even realize how much it's having and it needs more to get to that same level of intensity. It's like cocaine and heroin, sugar and processed foods, they just hit that reward center and the more you have it, the more it takes to get that same hit.

So the process of reconditioning your brain, because remember, you have been conditioned to over-desire this food, and because you have been conditioned in your brain to over-desire it, we can recondition your brain to desire it less. But again, this process of reconditioning your brain is going to need some attention because you're going to have the physical urge to eat the reward food. Now, I have taught you that your thoughts are what create your feelings, and your feelings drive your actions, and then you get a result. And we know that an urge is actually a feeling, so that means it's caused by a thought. But the tricky part here is that some of these thoughts are unconscious, right? We talked about this last week. And they've done research where they have discovered where your brain will actually send a signal to pick up food three seconds before you're even aware of it.

So in order to uncover the thoughts behind your urge, you have to take a pause and you have to allow that urge. Now, urge comes from the word 'urgent', right? Urgent feels powerful, it's like someone running in the room and yelling, "Fire!" You want to react, you run. The thought you may have about food is, "I want it, and I want it now." Now, I remember when my daughter was three years old and we had a couple of roommates at that time, and it was a single mom with her daughter who was eight, and the kids, there was some ruckus between the kids about a Barbie doll, and all I know is my daughter started to yell and scream and cry. And I brought her into her room and nothing I could do or say could calm her down.

So I just remember closing the door, sitting on the floor, and watching her. The energy was amazing. She was a ball of energy, and you know, you could say, she was in the middle of an urge, right? But she had an under-developed brain that did not know how to process that brain, because to her, it was overcoming, it was relentless. So we can think of it like someone with authority. Maybe it's a policeman comes up to you and you know, urgently says, "Come on, let's go. Move on here." And your body almost responds on its own. Of course, it's a thought that you're thinking, "I better get out of here, I'll be in trouble." But it's all happening so quickly, and because of that authority, you think you have to respond.

So the key is to become aware of the urge, but not to answer its call. So I like to think about it, so let's imagine this three-year-old screaming and yelling, and you are just sitting on the floor, safe and curious, and watching and wondering what is going on. More openness. Now, if you feel the urge let's say, to eat a bowl of ice cream after dinner, remember, you also have two competing desires, right?

You have the desire to lose 10 pounds, and for that you, have a plan, which you have created from your prefrontal cortex. But you also have this dopamine hungry brain who's used to you giving in to it. And then you could say jumping on board to support that dopamine hungry brain is your thoughts about ice cream, and how happy it will make you, how everybody loves ice cream, how you deserve a treat, and how you can't do this anyway. This is where those disempowering thoughts about your past and about yourself, they just jump on board too. So you're surrounded by desire in your body caused by dopamine, desire in your head caused by your long-held and cultural beliefs about food, and then you have this lousy opinion of yourself. Remember the clients I was talking about earlier thinking of themselves as weak? So it's like you're in a circle surrounded by these bullies, and they're all shouting at you really loud. But this is actually all taking place in your brain. So I want to tell you that you actually don't have to give in to the urge. You can sit down in that circle, surrounded by those bullies, and you can just look at them and you can breathe deeply, because you know they really can't hurt you.

Maybe you sing a little song, maybe you say a prayer, but in any case, you want to connect to your own power. You want to activate that prefrontal cortex, who has another plan, right? Maybe you'll practice those thoughts that you created from last week's desire worksheet.

So one thing I know for sure, and you know as well is it's going to be uncomfortable, and you have to do it over and over and over again. Sorry, but you do. How many times? How about we say 100 times? After about 100 times, the bullies are going to get tired of yelling. Maybe after about 90 times, you may have two bullies yelling at each other, having forgotten all about you.

Why? Because bullies thrive on your fear. And if you can just allow that feeling and just feel it, you will not be giving in to what they're looking for. I heard this wonderful story recently about a young monk who was told by her teacher that she had to go into battle against fear. So fear is in the meadow, and it was so ferocious and huge and the young girl decides she's going to take a different approach, right?

She's real tiny. She says, "Fear, how can I defeat you?" Fear's response, "Well, my weapons are that I talk fast and I get very close to your face. Then you get completely unnerved and you do whatever I say. Works like a charm. If you don't do what I tell you, I actually have no power, just like the urge has no power over you." This is the brilliance of what we're learning from brain science. We know how our brain works with our body, with our nervous system. We know our brain has evolved to be amazingly innovative, but when it comes to food, it's not so smart. It can't really tell what's good for you and what food is not good for you.

So what I want to do is present you two steps of an exercise to help you recondition your brain. So firstly, I want to make sure you listen to last week's episode on desire, and grab that worksheet that went along with the episode. This will guide you to write down all your thoughts about the food you see as your nemesis. And it will help you create new thoughts and perspectives about the mind and your body and your beliefs.

Secondly, I want you to go to never2late.info/urge and grab a copy of the 100 Allowed Urges worksheet. This is where you write down your experience of that urge attack and how you were able to not engage in the warfare, how you were able to sit in the middle of that circle, imagining yourself breathing through the urge, remembering it has no power over you. It just feels really uncomfortable.

So I want you to keep that list with you, you could maybe put it on your phone, and that each time you are able to allow an urge, you can actually write it down, and then you want to say, "What was it like? What did you discover? Did any thoughts pop up? How did it feel in your body?" So you just keep adding to the list until you get to your 100 allowed urges.

Now, they don't have to be consecutive. Let's say you don't - you aren't able to allow the urge and then you go and eat the food. No problem. The next time you take your prefrontal cortex, you make a plan, and you decide that you're going to allow the urge, and then you write it down again, adding up until you get to your 100 allowed urges.

Now, I don't know about you, but I remember teaching my daughter to say 'thank you' and it took years and years and years of me repeating it, but I didn't give up because it was important, right? And do you remember potty training your kids? I mean, at some point, you think, "How are they ever going to learn?" and then, of course, they do. But retraining your brain and body takes time and attention, and as you know, it can be done. So in summary, I want to say that we know that constant dopamine hits from highly processed sugary foods delivered to your brain's reward center leads to over-desire. Over-desire leads to overeating.

And our subconscious conditioning and beliefs about food and about our life and our past experiences can either be empowering or disempowering. But you can retrain or recondition your brain. You don't actually have to respond to an urge. It doesn't have authority over you. You want to practice the allowing the urge with curiosity and non-judgment.

Now, for my favorite things. I am so excited to announce the winner of the Motiv health tracker. But first I want to thank all of you who took the time to listen, review, and then send me an email confirming your review. I am so grateful to you all and I love you all. So let's have a drumroll please, the winner of the Motiv is - you know all those shows on TV now, they just drag it out. You're like - your heart is beating, it's like, come on, get it over with. So I'm not going to do that.

And the winner of the Motiv tracker ring is Joan Alice Burn. Bravo. Yay. Thank you, Joan. Thank you so much for participating in the contest, I'm going to send you some information so you get your ring size and then you'll get your Motiv and you'll be able to track your heart, your sleep, and your activity level. So I know it's going to be fantastic to help you in your health goals.

So next we're going to talk about deprivation. It sounds terrible, doesn't it? But one thing I know is that many of my clients have a fear of deprivation, and it causes them to think that they cannot actually achieve their weight loss goals because they don't think they could withstand that feeling. So come on back next week, I look forward to seeing you again. Bye.

Thanks for listening to this episode of It's Never Too Late to Lose Weight. If you liked what you heard and want more, head over to never2late.info/guide, to download your quick start guide to jump start your weight loss plan and begin creating an amazing life you love.

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