How good are you at keeping promises to other people?

Now let me ask you this: How good are you at keeping your promises to yourself?

If I could guess, I would say that there was a big discrepancy there.  I would imagine that when it comes to keep promises to other people, you’re really good at it – but when it comes to keeping promises to yourself… not so much. So why is that the case? Why are we typically better at keeping our promises to other people, but we fall short when keeping promises to ourselves?

The answer is simple: Consequences.

How Consequences Keep Us Accountable

When we break a promise to someone else, a consequence is usually associated with it. They’ll be upset, we’ll let them down, you’ll break trust with that person. And we don’t want to do that! Most of us typically want to be thought of as dependable people. Loyal. Someone who can be counted on. Which is why we’re less likely to do break a promise!

Yet, when we break promises to ourselves we don’t see it as being that bad.. or so it seems. Overtime, as we continue to break more promises to ourselves, we go through those exact same emotions that we would if we had let someone else down.  Except what’s worse, is that we suffer a far bigger consequence for all of those broken promises: We end up living an unfulfilled life. We never do achieve the things that we want to. We sacrifice our happiness and begin to lack confidence in ourselves to see anything through.

Talk about a MASSIVE consequence.

This is especially relevant when it comes to weight loss. Over the years, theories and concepts have been developed to help people stay accountable. Have a buddy system, create rewards for yourself when you achieve your goals, etc. As a coach, I employed them all. Yet nothing ever seemed to work – until I read “Maybe It’s You” by Lauren Zander. Her theory about attaching consequences to our goals made total sense. So I began to use it in my own practice and immediately started to see results with my clients!

How To Implement Consequences To Achieve Your Weight Loss Goals

So how do you attach consequences to your goals? Let’s use my client Sarah as an example. Every week she would ‘be good’ and then the weekends would roll around and BAM!! She’d binge from her usual Friday night ordering in pizza with her husband and the kids until Sunday morning when she’d have her weekly brunch with the girls.

Although she felt like she was putting in a ton of effort, she wasn’t losing weight.  She was unhappy, discouraged and depressed – but she couldn’t seem to give up her weekend habits that were setting her back. She simply ‘couldn’t stop herself!’ Until… we put some consequences for her actions!

Sarah had an affinity for her bi-weekly mani-pedis and her monthly facials. With her stressful job, the kids, and her hectic schedule, these self-care practices were the thing that she had vowed to maintain for herself and never missed. To me – it sounded like a perfect consequence for her weekend bingeing.

So what did we do? We sat down and reviewed her weekend and looked at how we could help Sarah stay on track, while also maintaining the parts of her weekend that she loved; like spending time with family and socializing with her girlfriends. Sarah said that she would commit to not ordering in or eating out on Fridays and Saturdays with her family and would also stop her habit of finishing off a bottle of wine with her husband on the couch after they put the kids to bed. She said that she would keep her brunch date with the girls but skip the mimosas and pancakes drenched in syrup and instead have a greek yogurt parfait with fruit and granola or an omelette with veggies and a side of avocado and toast. Perfect!

Then it was time to implement the consequences! If she ordered in or went out to eat on Friday or Saturday and made unsupportive choices in her diet on Sunday at brunch – she would forego her mani-pedi’s and facials for 6 months!  Did Sarah ever have to give up her mani-pedis or facials?  NOT ONCE! And within weeks, Sarah noticed that her weight began to come off as well!

Creating Your Own Consequences

In her book, Lauren Zander says that the bigger the goal, the bigger the consequence. So if you have something that you REALLY want to achieve, you have to attach some pretty big consequences to it to help you stay accountable.

Consequences should be something that scare you enough to do ‘the thing’ that you don’t want to do, but should also have an air of humour about them.

First, you need to clearly outline what your goal is without any room for technicalities, i.e. “I’m going to have ONE 5 oz glass of wine each week and if I have more than one, I’ll have to donate my favourite pair of shoes to that consignment store and I can’t buy them back.” Or, ‘My partner will watch the kids and I’m going to spend 30 minutes on Sundays and Wednesday nights cooking up some lean protein, veggies and healthy carbs so I have a variety of healthy options on hand for the week. If I don’t then we can’t book that trip down south in March that we’ve been talking about for months.”

So, pick a goal that you have and start attaching some consequences to it and see how you do! You might be pleasantly surprised at how well you suddenly start to stay accountable… and how soon you reach your goals!

With love and nut butter,

Lindsey Xo