There is no action without thought, if you don’t believe me try it. Even mindless task like brushing your teeth, commuting to work or listening to your client complain about cellulite has cognition behind it. Most of us are able to go through our day without even paying attention to the noisy mental processes behind mundane task. This doesn’t always work to our benefit, just think about a time when you were out with friends at a Mexican restaurant and the bowl of chips in front of you magically vanishes? It’s as if our brain goes on feeding autopilot while you talk sports/fashion and take in new information from the individual sitting in front of you.
When you are coaching weight loss with you clients one of the first things that will get the process started is to help them become aware of these thoughts. I usually have my clients keep a two week journal of their thoughts, feelings and impulses behind each meal. When we were younger eating was pretty much dictated to us, you were given a bottle either at certain times of the day or when you wouldn’t stop crying. Your parents would take you to McDonald’s when you did well in school or wouldn’t stop saying, “I’m loving it” every time they drove by the golden arches. While it didn’t seem like much at the time these occurrences were hardwiring habits that many of us have taken into adulthood. Think about the last time you thought, “I deserve a drink for getting through such a hard week,” or “cookie dough ice-cream won’t get mad at me for not turning in the brief on time.”
We all have these thoughts bouncing around in our heads and as a professional part of your programming should include helping your clients to listens the productive thoughts. After they develop their awareness around the foods they eat the next step is to get them to actively dispute the voices that have them ordering Frappuchio’s after work each day. Disputing dysfunctional thoughts is a method championed by Albert Ellis the father of Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy (REBT). He would have his clients really pay attention to irrational thoughts like “eating will make me happy” and turn them around to “I eat when I’m hungry and while meals are a pleasurable experience I don’t need them to be happy.”
Helping them find their voice in the matter is a very powerful tool. It will encompass everything from what they order at a restaurant to their ability to turn down double-fudge brownies at school functions. So, encourage them to listen to those voices in their head just make sure the things they are saying don’e involve chain saws and hockey mask.