One of the toughest things about losing weight and keeping it off for good is developing a healthy relationship with food. I work with runners every day who admittedly have a very unhealthy …
My name is Patrick McGilvray, and I’m an experienced marathoner, ultra runner, Sports Nutritionist, Master Life Coach, and weight loss coach for runners. I’ve dedicated my life to helping runners just like you properly fuel your body and your mind. So you can get leaner, get stronger, run faster, and run longer than you ever thought possible. This is Running Lean.
Hey there, and welcome to episode 202 of Running Lean. My name is Patrick McGilvray, The Weight Loss Coach for Runners, and today, Unraveling Unhealthy Thought Patterns.
So one of the toughest things about losing weight and keeping it off for good is developing a healthy relationship with it. I work with runners every day who admittedly have a very unhealthy relationship with food, they overeat, they’re constantly making unhealthy choices.
They know what to do, they’re doing something different all the time, and they generally feel very out of control around food.
If this sounds like you, rest assured there’s nothing wrong with you. You’ve just developed some unhealthy thought patterns about food. So one of the most beneficial things you can do for yourself is begin to recognize and then start unraveling those unhealthy thought patterns.
That’s what this episode is all about. So stick around, I think you’ll find some very helpful tips throughout this podcast.
But first, I talk a lot about losing weight and improving your health and your fitness. And I know all the stuff I talked about here can feel a little overwhelming. If you’re looking for a good place to start, I’ve created a free hour-long training called Five Simple Steps To Becoming A Leaner Stronger Runner.
In this training video, you’ll learn how to fuel your body properly to lose weight and improve your running, you’ll learn the incredibly important role that strength plays in being a lean healthy runner.
And you’ll learn how to make changes that are actually sustainable, and a lot more. If you’re ready to get started, get leaner, get stronger, run faster, run longer, and become the healthiest, most badass version of yourself, then check out this free training now go to my website runningleancoaching.com and click on free training and get started. Cool.
All right, let’s talk about this unraveling unhealthy thought patterns. So when it comes to things like losing weight and trying to keep it off for good, there is a big problem out there.
And people talk about that this diet isn’t sustainable, this diet isn’t sustainable. And honestly, any diet can be sustainable, it’s the one that you stick to the one that you can do consistently is going to be the one that works for you.
And it’s going to be the one that is sustainable for you. But a lot of people blame the diet as being wrong, or this one doesn’t work when in reality, it’s all about you. What are you willing to stick to? What are you willing to do consistently?
And so one of the things I work with, with the people that I that I do coaching with is understanding that it’s not about the diet necessarily. Now, of course, there are some things we can do that will help to lose weight. And we want to get you eating whole foods and get you off of the junk food and the processed foods and sugars and seed oils and things like that.
But how do you do this consistently? How do you do this for for life? You know, that’s where the real magic happens when you get to this place where this just becomes pretty automatic for you. And it’s no longer work and it’s no longer effort.
And one thing that stops a lot of people from getting to that place where they’ve developed good healthy eating habits is their own mind. You know, it’s their own thoughts about food, it’s their own thoughts about whether they can sustain this or not, it’s their own thoughts about how they failed in the past and how they’ve tried everything, and nothing ever works for them.
And all these thought patterns are just that they are thoughts in your head. And not necessarily true. They’ve just been things that you’ve been telling yourself for a long time. And so you believe them to be true.
But they are not necessarily the truth. Okay, so we have to understand that the way that each one of us sees the world is a little bit differently.
We see the world based on our own thoughts, feelings, past experiences, and all kinds of other factors. And no two people really see the world the same way. No two people, you know, experience a diet the same way no two people experience food nutrition, and exercise the same way.
So just understand that you are an individual. You have your own thought patterns that you’ve been practicing for decades, decades. And it’s really hard to undo that. It’s really hard to even see that that’s what you’re doing because you just believe all this stuff to be true about how things work.
If you feel out of control around food, you’re gonna see that that’s just an automatic thing for you that when there’s donuts sitting there, you can’t help yourself, you eat the doughnuts.
When in reality, there’s more going on there, you’re not automatic, you’re not a robot, you haven’t been programmed, please sort of programmed yourself in a way to just eat the doughnuts. But there’s a thought and a feeling and an action happening.
And those things happen before you pick up the doughnut and put it in your mouth. There are thoughts and feelings about that donut that are happening in that moment. That happened very fast.
And when I talk about thought patterns, thought patterns, our thoughts and feelings that lead to actions, thoughts, and feelings that drive our actions, those are thought patterns. And you’re really good at doing some thought patterns.
Think about how you tie your shoes in the morning, or in the afternoon or whatever. You don’t even think about it anymore. You’ve developed a thought pattern about how to tie your shoes.
But when you were like four or five years old, and you’re learning how to tie your shoes, you’re in kindergarten, whatever. It took some thought you had to, you know, make the loop and then put it around this, wait, look, no, wait, I did it wrong, that was supposed to go under here.
And it took some thought and some effort and it was hard. And it took a while to do that. Now you can tie your shoes without even thinking about it, you don’t have to think about it, it’s become an automated behavior for you.
Driving a car is the same way. It’s an automated behavior. There are lots of things that we do in our lives that have become automated behaviors. But they weren’t always that way. eating donuts, when you see donuts is not an automated behavior.
I mean, it’s kind of automated, but there’s always something going on, there’s thoughts and feelings that are driving those actions. And we want to start to break this stuff down.
We want to start unraveling the thought patterns that are not serving us the unhealthy ones. The other ones like tying your shoes, who cares, just keep tying your shoes without thinking about it. That’s fine. That’s an automated behavior. You don’t need to break that down and journal about it.
And you know, you know, it’s not causing you any problems most likely, you know, driving a car, you don’t have to really think about that you just do it. So you don’t really need to break it all down. Oh, what am I thinking about backing up in this moment about, you know, parking in this spot, you know, or whatever, like, you don’t have to think about it, just do it.
But there are some thought patterns that are unhealthy, especially when it comes to food. Why is that? Why are there so many unhealthy thought patterns around food? My guess is that it’s just one of those things where we’ve used food.
For years and years and decades, we’ve used food as an emotional management tool, we’ve used food to make ourselves feel better, to soothe ourselves when we’re down to destress us when we feel stressed out to make us feel better when we’re not feeling good.
And you’ve just developed these habits that feel really natural, and really automatic, and, and really out of control. When in reality, you’ve just been practicing thought patterns and actions. And we got to start practicing those things. Okay?
It’s learned behavior that’s going on here. These are things that you have learned. Over time, you’ve taught yourself how to handle stress by using food. You’ve taught yourself that when you see donuts, you eat the doughnuts.
When you see the pizza, you eat the pizza, you haven’t taught yourself that you can have self-control, that when you see the pizza, you don’t have to eat it. That’s no big deal. But that is a thought pattern as well right there.
So let’s break down what we’re talking about here a little bit. So you have some context of what I’m talking about here. So when we talk about thought patterns, I want you to understand there are several layers to this.
The first layer is the circumstance layer or just the stuff that’s going around us in our lives. So everything that’s not you, is just a circumstance in your life. So if you’re you know, sitting at home and you’re in and your kids are running around and your husband is in the kitchen, you know yelling at you about something, that’s all circumstances, you don’t really have control over that stuff.
And maybe a little bit of control over the kids, probably not the husband, but there’s a little bit of control out there, but pretty much know right? Your boss, what your boss says or does or thinks about you what other people do or say or think about you the actions of other people, you have no control over any of that stuff.
All you have control over is your own thoughts, feelings and actions. You don’t have control over anything else in this world. Sorry, I hate to break it to you but that’s reality.
All the circumstances are a lot of our lives are just that they are just circumstances. It’s just the situation we happen to be in at the moment. So if somebody brings in doughnuts to the break room, that’s just a circumstance, it’s not good. It’s not bad. It’s not positive or negative. It’s not healthy or unhealthy. It’s just neutral.
It’s just a circumstance, it’s neutral. You’re making a split decision about what that means to you. In that moment, you’re making a really quick assessment of that situation.
And you’re assigning, whether that’s good or bad, you’re assigning, whether it’s positive or negative, whether it’s healthy or unhealthy. Doughnuts in the break room is a neutral circumstance, it’s not healthy or unhealthy. It’s just what it is, you don’t have to eat those things.
If you don’t eat them, then it’s healthy. If you choose to eat them that might be unhealthy if you do it all the time, the occasional donut is fine. Please understand, donuts, they’re amazing. I love donuts, but I eat them very rarely, I can’t remember the last time I ate a doughnut.
But every now and then eat a doughnut. It’s not a big deal. But we have to get into this place where it’s not an automatic behavior anymore. So anyway, circumstances are the stuff in our lives that we do not have control over and it’s all around us food is going to be around us all the time.
You can’t blame the fact that there’s food there on the reason why you ate it. That’s not why you’re eating the food, you’re eating the food because you have a thought and a feeling about it.
And that is the pattern that I’m talking about here. So the circumstance is how there’s doughnuts in the break room, then you have a thought about it. Oh, I bet those donuts would taste really good right now. I’ve been good all week. And this is my reward.
Or I worked out this morning, I ran five miles, I can do a donut. Like you have all these thoughts about what that donut means, oh, that’s gonna taste so amazing. And then those thoughts cause you to have a feeling. And that feeling is going to be like a craving; that’s a feeling, a craving is a feeling.
So you have this desire, that’s a feeling. You have this desire and this craving to now eat the doughnut. And you think that, that feeling that desire that wanting that craving is just because the doughnuts are there? And it’s no, it’s not just because they’re there, it’s because of your thoughts about the donuts.
I know lots of people who don’t eat donuts who see it on and they’re like, no big deal. Like I can look at donuts and be like, no big deal most of the time. But I understand that if I start to have those thoughts about how amazing that’s going to taste and how it’s gonna make me feel good because it’s a bunch of sugar and, and fried dough.
Oh my gosh, like sugar and fried dough together? Oh, yeah, that’s gonna taste good. That’s gonna light up my dopamine receptors, you know, that’s gonna make me feel amazing, you know, for a short period of time, then I’ll probably feel terrible.
So our thoughts are what’s causing those feelings that desire, the craving, the wanting, those are all feelings. Other feelings we have are our stress, anger, sadness, and anxiety. Those are all feelings as well, their emotions, feelings, and emotions, they’re interchangeable.
So we have circumstances in our life, and we have thoughts about those circumstances, those thoughts cause us to feel certain feelings or emotions. And it’s those emotions and feelings that drive our actions. So then when we feel the desire, we want to eat the donut so that we can enjoy that, you know, and, you know, take part in that feeling.
When we feel sad, we want to eat something that makes us feel better. So that sadness will drive actions, the anger that we have will drive us to take action, you know, maybe lash out at somebody.
Or, you know, like you’re in traffic and somebody cuts you off and you flip them off out the window or something like that. Like, that feeling of anger is what’s driving that action, not what that person did, because that what that person did is a neutral circumstance. They cut you off in traffic, but who cares, big deal.
Some people are like whatever. Other people get all upset and road rage happens. You know, road rage is caused by people’s feelings. Rage is a feeling. Okay? So circumstances are neutral, we have thoughts about them. That’s what creates the feelings that we have inside those feelings drive our actions, and the actions we take will create results in our lives.
Right, you don’t have results in your life if you don’t take action. So the behaviors we engage in will cause us to have some sort of a result the actions that we take on a regular basis will cause long-term results.
So if your goal is to lose weight, and you’ve cut out sugar, and every day you abstain from eating sugar, that action will get you the result of losing weight. For example, if your goal is to lose weight, and you’ve abstained from eating sugar, but you can’t stop yourself from eating sugar every single day, that’s going to cause a different result, you’re going to probably gain weight in that process.
I’m guessing that result is not in alignment with what you want for yourself. Okay, so that would be what I call a misaligned result, you know, so misaligned actions will produce misaligned results, and aligned actions will produce aligned results.
So you want to be taking actions that are in alignment with your long-term goals. Okay. So the results that we’re getting are not due to our circumstances, but they’re due to our thoughts feelings, and actions.
So whether you’re able to walk away from the pizza, or walk away from the doughnuts in the break, room or not, has to do with those thought, feeling action patterns that you’ve been practicing and practicing forever.
You know, one of the best ways to create a habit is to repeatedly do something over and over and over and over again. And we’ve repeatedly done the same things. We’ve had a feeling we get stressed out, and we go to the cabinet, and we look for something crunchy or salty or sugary to eat.
Nobody stress eats, like broccoli out of the fridge or leftover chicken or something like that. I’ve never heard anybody say that. They’re like, oh, I got to stop the snack and like, what are you snacking on? Is it like, hard-boiled eggs? Or chicken? They’re like, oh, no, I’m going for the salty stuff, crunchy stuff. I’m like, yeah, I know, I know what you’re doing.
But if you’re really hungry at that moment, you know, a piece of cheese would satisfy you or, you know, some leftovers from the night before.
Instead, no, we’re going for those things that light up our dopamine centers that make us feel good. And usually, it’s the stuff that’s unhealthy for us, right? So you’ve just developed these coping mechanisms. And the coping mechanisms are just thought patterns.
That’s all they are thoughts, feelings, and actions. So you have to understand that this process happens in a split second, once you’ve developed good habits, kind of like tying your shoe, right, you can tie your shoe very quickly, you don’t have to think about you just do it.
Same thing with food, we’ve developed these thoughts, feelings, and action patterns that happen so fast, that we just do them automatically without even knowing that this process is happening.
So one of the biggest keys to unraveling all this for you now that you understand the pattern is to start to become aware that you’re doing it, that’s all just start to become aware of what you are doing and the and the and the thoughts and feelings that you’re having that precede the actions that you’re taking.
So when you’re about to grab that donut, just pause, and hit the pause button for just a moment. And ask yourself what is the thought and feeling that’s driving me to reach for the doughnut right now.
That little step right there is going to go a long way in helping you to start to change your relationship with food to stop, start to help you change these thought-feeling-action patterns, and start to develop some other patterns, which is I see the donuts, I have a thought about the donuts. They look amazing.
But they taste great. You have a feeling like a desire that happens. And then you take the action of not eating the doughnut. That’s a different thought pattern altogether.
What if the thought was instead, I bet those donuts taste great? But you know what, that is not on my plan today. So I’m not doing the doughnuts, maybe another time.
That’s a thought you could have. What feeling might that thought cause? Oh, it might cause you to feel proud of yourself for sticking to your plan in that moment. And if you’re proud of yourself in that moment, and you and you’ve boosted your confidence a little bit.
That’s another feeling, by the way, pride, confidence, those are all emotions. That’s going to drive a different action, the action is going to be I’m sticking to my plan. I brought my lunch today. I don’t need to eat doughnuts, my body isn’t that stuff.
So you can see that your thought-feeling-action patterns can shift over time and go from being unhealthy, you know, thought patterns to healthy thought patterns. And when you start to break it down and hit that pause button, you can really start to go a long way in developing those new thought patterns and those new behaviors and start to repeat those behaviors over and over and over again and develop those as your new habits.
Okay, now this whole process begins As with that self-awareness of like, here’s what’s going on. The doughnuts are just a neutral thing in my life, they don’t have any control over me. I’m always in control, I have agency.
You know, I’m making decisions on my own here. I love it. I think Tony Robbins said, “The direction of your life is determined by tiny little moments of decision.” Tiny little moments of decision, thousands of them.
It’s not about one big decision, oh, I’m gonna change my diet. It’s not that it’s about those tiny little moments of decision that you make, over and over and over and over and over again, thousands of them.
That’s what makes big change in your life, that can change the whole direction of your life, you can go from being an unhealthy person with an unhealthy relationship with food to somebody who is healthy, fit, feels good about themselves has confidence and has completely changed their relationship with food.
All it requires is lots and lots and lots of repetition of these tiny little moments of decision, hitting that pause button, and becoming aware of the thoughts and feelings that are driving that action that you’re about to take.
Okay, that is your work for this week, is to hit that pause button and start to see what it is that’s driving this behavior. Why am I choosing this decision at this moment?
Really ask yourself that, sometimes it helps to stop and write a few things down. That’s not always the case. It’s not always practical to do that. But if you can stop and write some things down, that’s very helpful.
But if you can’t, you know, maybe just think about it, like what am I thinking and feeling right now in this moment? Is this a behavior that I’ve been practicing for a long time? And how can I make a better decision in this moment, okay, that is step number one.
And when you do that, you’re going to be on your way to becoming a different person. Because once you start practicing these things regularly, and you start changing those thought patterns on a regular basis, and you start doing things differently consistently over time, you can become an entirely different person, for the better, cool.
And as always, if you’re looking for help with any stuff, we can talk about coaching, just go to my website runningleancoaching.com, and click on Work With Me.
You’ll fill out a short little application we’ll get on a zoom, we’ll talk about what coaching might look like for you and we’ll just see if it’s a good fit. Cool. That’s all I got for you today. Love you all, keep on Running Lean, and I will talk to you soon.