The Power of No Commitment
The Golden Opportunity
So many programmes to help you change not just how you eat but change anything important make a huge deal out of commitment.
When you commit, that is apparently the moment that the magic starts.
I will give my thoughts below on why I think this strategy is oversold by motivational gurus.
What I have found for my most challenging habit changes was the opposite.
You see, what feels like commitment is often just part of the swing of the metronome. I commit to Whole 30 is overwhelmingly a cover story for Just how fervent can I get about this deprivation phase I’m entering? And just look at how I am disowning my Inner Food Rebel! I don’t have to face her/him ever again....
As a side note, I have found true commitment to be more of a result than a conscious effort. For example, the night after my ex made his last ever thoughtless, cruel remark about me (after two and a half years of this), I woke up about 1am, aware that something was about to happen. I made a cup of tea and sat in the living room, waiting. Soon the realisation came to me: I don’t love him. After a couple of weeks of confusion about the next steps to take, I woke up one morning and it came to me that I would not be able to go to bed that night without telling him it was over. And indeed I did tell him later that day.
That was commitment. Unforced, filling every fibre of my being. I proved my commitment to myself through action.
I reached this point with sugar, but only after two months of implementing the no commitment strategy I am about to show you.
There are two elements to the no commitment road to success.
Element #1: Experimentation
When you start dating someone, it’s an experiment to see whether you get on. If you enjoy the first drink, you go for another.
Try seeing eating change in the same way. Does it suit you?
I am not talking about is it easy? We are not five years old here. Accept that it will be challenging.
However, any food plan that leaves you hungry, pleasure deprived and bored out of your brain 24/7 (and it doesn’t get any easier) - well, you wouldn’t “marry” that change, would you?
I gave up sugar initially as an experiment. One month to see if it made any difference to my hellish PMS. My curiosity was stronger than my compulsion.
The other thing about an experiment is you cannot succeed or fail at it. It can only give you data. This is a very liberating distinction. No more being a good girl, just satisfying my need to know what could end my hormonal misery.
Experimentation deactivates the Inner Food Rebel (IFR) - it has nothing to fight against.
Element #2: Reduce the challenge
When I gave up 95% of the sugar I used to eat, I would often find myself mysteriously in the dessert aisle of the supermarket, fixated by the junk in front of me.
I never gave in to the cravings I had.
The reason why? I gave myself a virtually commitment-free goal: to walk away from the aisle for five minutes. I also used a cravings buster from my Freedom From Sugar programme (basically a high quality distraction).
I told my IFR we could come back in five minutes. No biggie.
And something magical happened in that time. I felt so powerful for having walked away that it killed the craving. (There is more to this than that - I am simplifying so as not to lose focus).
Over 8 weeks I trained my subconscious that the instinctual reaction when I got a craving was to walk away.
I would NEVER have done this had I told myself that I had to commit to a lifetime without junk, with each dessert aisle challenge being another torture session.