written by Nina Shantel, blog: RealDietHelp.com, published July 18, 2023
I asked psychotherapist Lewis (Lew) Epstein to discuss how to get unstuck and move forward, whether it’s weight loss, eating healthier, getting motivated to exercise, or improving relationships, by forming clear values and understanding the connection that what you do or say can move you towards that value, or away from that value. (video is at the bottom of this post)
Lewis Epstein explains that a negative feedback loop is doing the same things repeatedly, ending up back where we started. To stop this circular system, he said it’s important to clarify what you value first. A value is different than a goal, because values are what are most important to you, like being a successful entrepreneur, taking care of the family, and good health.
If you want to have a successful business, you’re going to need lots of energy: a poor diet and lack of sleep and exercise will make it harder to accomplish your tasks. If a home seller is trying to decide between two real estate agents to sell his property, and one is trim and fit, and the other is overweight and unhealthy, the seller may choose the lean agent because many people believe thinner, beautiful people are more successful.
To take care of your family, means taking care of yourself first. If you are sick, you cannot take care of your family. Make your values a priority so you can take the detour onto the right path and move forward, so you’re not stuck.
Mr. Epstein said we all have an inner critic where we tell ourselves we are stupid, ugly, fat, skinny, lazy or a failure. We are harder on ourselves than anyone else! If you tell yourself that you are a failure, you are not alone! We’ve all failed at some point. Failure is good. Failure is a sign of progress because if you’ve never failed, you’ve never tried, and will never succeed. The trick is to keep trying. Success comes from trying over and over again, experimenting with different methods to see what sticks.
We all want results now and many people believe being thin, muscular, or having the perfect mate or job will make them happy, but happiness and success don’t magically appear; happiness comes in bits. Happiness is seeing small positive changes as the result of hard work. For example, if a student cheats on a test and gets an “A,” he may be happy he didn’t have to study and got a good grade, but he feels insecure, stupid, and unhappy because he didn’t “earn” that grade. Happiness is earned.
Devil vs. Angel: Everyone has a devil on one shoulder and an angel on the other shoulder. The devil taunts: “What’s one more drink? You had a hard day, you deserve the pizza, beer and the cigarette. You aren’t going to stick to this goal because you’ve failed in the past so why even try?” The devil is full of negativity, bringing you down.
The angel, on the other hand, is full of encouragement, rooting you on: “You can do this! Do the right thing.” The angel is the mind, who knows better, and the devil is the stomach, wanting to be fed. Listen to the angel and tell the devil to go back to hell.
Lew says the devil/angel analogy is better illustrated as the child vs. adult. The child wants comfort, and everything is about “me” and what “I” want. We need to stop catering to the child and be adults.
Pain in inevitable: Everyone experiences physical and mental pain; how you deal with pain is what makes the difference in moving forward, backwards, or being stuck in place.
Why do we keep choosing bad habits if they prevent us from reaching our values?
By eating junk food, smoking, drinking alcohol, and/or taking drugs, pains go away, and negative thoughts get temporarily drowned out and euphoria settles in momentarily.
What can you substitute for food when you are in pain, frustrated, stressed, or bored? Try meditation, physical exercise, helping others, breathing exercises, talking to someone, watching an uplifting movie or a comedy, and/or laying in the sun, to divert attention, feel good and centered. Try all these methods and see what works for you.
No pain, no gain. The phrase “no pain, no gain” is often quoted when it comes to exercise, but it can be applied to all areas of life. If someone doesn’t sweat, lift heavier, and make exercise a regular commitment, they won’t build muscle or get stronger.
If someone doesn’t read the material and study for the exams, the student won’t pass the test.
If someone chooses the oatmeal over the bacon and egg breakfast, they are making the less tasty choice but will enjoy the benefits of these less exciting, positive choices in the future.
You may not feel or see the benefits of positive choices now, but you will see them in the future.
Patience and consistency are the keys to success and happiness.
Coming up with a plan and a date to start. When I wanted to remove oil from my diet, I knew my husband wasn’t going to like it and it was going to mean changing the way we cook. Changing how I made meals and anticipating my husband’s negative reaction caused anxiety.
Before discussing the subject of cooking without oil with my husband, I looked up how to cook without oil, found oil-free recipes, and made sure I understood how to explain to him that oils are harmful and should be avoided.
I picked a time and date to broach the topic with my spouse when he wasn’t busy (when we went on our daily walk). I told him that I wanted to avoid consuming all oils because they increase heart disease risk, lower the immune system, impair circulation, and increase insulin resistance. I told him I want to start this new diet in three weeks, on January 1st, which was over a year ago, in 2022.
My husband was not happy with the idea of cooking without oil because he worried that the food wouldn’t taste as good, but I told him I read and learned the special cooking techniques and can share it with him.
I told him that I collected several oil-free recipes that we can try, and it might be fun, and we can eat bigger portions. See what I did? I turned a negative into a positive.
Today we eat 100% oil-free!
Now it’s easy to cook without oil because I can use water, wine, or vegetable stock instead of oil, but at first it was challenging.
Having a plan, in advance, instead of jumping right in, and giving us mental time to figure out how to implement this change, made a huge difference.
Jillian Michaels, a famous fitness trainer, likes to say, “Get comfortable with being uncomfortable,” which means that we need to do things we don’t want to do, to accomplish our goals.
Know your values to determine the proper course of action. How important are these values to you?
What are you going to change and say no to, to make those goals a reality.
Who do you need to reach out to for help or encouragement? Asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness
Psychotherapist Lewis Epstein offers a free phone consultation to help you assess whether his skills and approaches are a good match for you and he also offers a 5-week course, with homework assignments, as mentioned at the end of the video. Watch the video below; he shows how the negative feedback loops works and how to stop it.
Additional resources to help you move forward can be found on my YouTube channel, Nina’s Nutrition and Exercise Videos, under my playlist: “Diet Psychology”
An administrator at True North health clinic said the reason people don’t eat well is because they don’t have the information. To truly understand the connection between health and nutrition, read any, or all, of the following books from this list:
Best plant-based, weight loss and disease reversal nutrition books
As an Amazon affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
Lew Epstein’s books:
Watch the video of the entire discussion of how to get unstuck and move forward
If this post is located on any other website other than mine, which is RealDietHelp.com, it’s been unauthorized, plagiarized (copied without my permission). The other social media sites where my articles and videos are approved to be published are on my YouTube channel (Nina’s Nutrition & Exercise Videos), my Fit Girl Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/TheHighFiveDiet/ and my Twitter account https://twitter.com/medairyfree