Many people start with good intentions, particularly at the start of a new year. They eagerly jump into new exercise regimes, adopt healthier eating habits, and make their health and wellbeing a priority. A few days or weeks later, however, they find themselves slipping into old habits. The newfound zeal has waned. Other people know that they need to exercise more and eat better food and even aspire to make changes, but can't seem to muster up the courage to even try to do things differently. For both, resistance is what keeps them from making serious changes.
Resistance is normal. We all face resistance. Our eating and exercise habits are deeply engrained; we've often been eating the same way our entire lives. We are often addicted to certain foods, like sugar and caffeine. For many people, the mere prospect of change is overwhelming. People like stasis because they are comfortable with the familiar, with what they know. It gives them a sense of security. Change represents the unknown, the possibility of something that is not as good as the present moment. In a word: fear.
Resistance is powerful because it comes up in many ways. It might happen when you wake up planning to exercise, and you just don't feel like it. It might be the sudden craving for a favorite food, and you just go ahead and eat it. You might find resistance emerging in the little voice in your head that says that you're never going to lose weight anyways or that the dessert wouldn't hurt "just this once." Resistance has a doubly negative effect: not only does it deter from the choices that would better sustain you, but it also makes you feel bad, as if you don't have enough willpower.
How do we overcome resistance? By not resisting resistance. You can't pound or pummel your way through resistance. Accept it. It's a part of you. Some part of you doesn't want to change. Your body and your mind don't want to do things differently. Some aspect of you is connected to how you treat and nourish your body. It may be a part of you that originally sought comfort in food. It may be that some part of you is attached to poor health, because it serves some other need, like getting attention or justifying feelings of inadequacy. The key is that this aspect of yourself is coming up in response to the potential change, and by resisting it, you strengthen that aspect of yourself.
Instead, acknowledge this portion of yourself. When you feel that craving or hear the voice that says, you don't need to exercise today, just thank that part of you. Literally, in your head, say, "Thanks for showing up. I am choosing not to eat that slice of cake. Thanks, I agree, it would be nice to sleep in, but we're going to the gym instead." By working with rather than against your resistance, you start to accept that part of you and can "overcome" it in order to make real change. Without working through the parts of you that resistance, all of your changes will be superficial, and old habits will resurface.
If you want help with overcoming resistance and working towards your health goals, schedule a free health consultation with me today!