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Watch Out for the Wily Brain

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

If only we could get that Wily Brain to work for us, eh? I imagine we would be at goal, or beyond, in record time. One has to wonder why not?

What is the advantage or the pay-off that the Wily Brain gains by sabotaging our plans and efforts? Why do we fall for (trust) it's insidious, silky-voiced, outright lies?

If you remain unaware of the Wily Brain you will be unable to divert it's suggestions. You may find yourself lost in the wilderness and weeds, so far off plan and clueless as to how you got there. So how do we recognize the Wily Brain and its endless supply of tricks? Many of the recommended tools and actions found here, on Spark People, can help shine the light on the machinations of the Wily Brain, if one pauses, in real time, to pull the curtains back.

What do I mean? If you plan out your nutritional intake and then pause at the moment of consumption to compare what you are about to put in your mouth with your planned foods you may get a glimpse of the Wily Brain in action. "It's only..." , "It's just..." , "A little bit won't hurt..." , "You've been so good..." , "You deserve it... " , "Why not... " , "it won't matter..." are classic Wily Brain phrases. It can help to plan out and practice a response: "I do deserve it AND I also deserve to reach my goal weight; I'll find another (non-food) way to reward myself."

Here's an example that occurred to me recently. The stage: New year, reconfirmed goals, 'new' energy to take advantage of, a new 'Challenge' on the horizon. That freshness of 'new' beginnings is irresistible. enticing, seductive. Full steam ahead! Huzzah! And I'm off and running.... About day 10, the scale rewards me with proof of a pound removed (again). Right-On, something's actually working! A day or two later the thought as I prepared to leave for work: 'I could stop at XYZ to pick up a burger for lunch on my way in'. Mind you, I rarely eat meat, much less a 'burger', and I hadn't even left my house yet. What the Hey? Drilling down as the Wily Brain tried to slither away, was the idea that 'something is working; let it work while I have what I want'. Whoa! I then thought deliberately: 'something IS working (for the moment) and that something is limiting my intake to nutritional fuels. For that something to keep working, I need to stay with that something until I get to goal. Not to mention, it's only been 10 days, for goodness sake, hardly even begun, AND I don't even want a burger. I grabbed a Skyr yogurt from the fridge, a grapefruit and an apple and took myself to work. Crisis averted. For the moment.

I recognize that this version of sabotage has probably worked on me in the past. How many times I got a hint that something was working only to find myself wandering off course not long later. Sure; I turned myself around, got back on track, removed that same # again. Rinse. Repeat. So dang tired of this pattern.

Times that I was significantly more successful I was rigid and militant with myself. No Excuses. Absolute discipline. It worked for 50+ pounds; twice. Only once I stopped being so hard on myself and relaxed my vigilance (at about year 5-6), those pounds crept back on. Insidiously. With Spark People, I have been trying to make progress while being kinder to myself, but without much real success. Granted there are new factors that make the prospect much more difficult, or at least destined to be much slower, coupled with a sense that time is running out, or at least that I want to spend my time and energy engaged in other pursuits. The Wily Brain feeds on this impatience and desperation, turns them against me, weakening my resolve.

I am trying to build 'responses' to thoughts of defeat, impatience, desperation, etc to put in my tool kit, knowing that these defenses will be critical when I am tired, stressed, or feeling sad or frustrated, and there's plenty of those in my life right now. I am in this for Life. It does matter. The Wily Brain can go hang itself. If any of you know a way to enlist the Wily Brain to work for oneself, to achieve one's goals, Please Share!

Walk it off, Spark Peeps, or walk away: from temptation, emotion, stress...

Peace and Care
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
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    2 days ago
    Thank you for sharing! The inner voice, Wily brain, whatever you want to name it will always be there (imo). The volume of the voice will change. How often you hear it will change, but it will be there waiting for weakness. The ability to let its ideas and desires float by will change based on your mood, hunger level, stress, and other factors.

    I too focus on my goals: Better health and losing weight. Sure I can have a burger, but how will I feel after I eat the burger? Maybe I just want a small piece of a burger, maybe I want something else. Maybe I wanted it so I can "stick it to my plan". Well that would be silly.

    I control me. My brain can want, but I control my hands. Do I want to gain all I have lost? NO! I am my own competition and I WILL WIN!

    Enjoy the journey! Be happy with our choices! If you really want a burger and will be HAPPY eating it, then enjoy! (I am going to use my points for something else as that is my choice.)
    3 days ago
    3 days ago
    Don’t keep temptations close by. Try leaving them in the shop. If you have to make the effort to shop for them most times the notion will have passed

    3 days ago
    3 days ago
    yes i hear you loud and clear keep doing what is working, Hugs
    3 days ago
    3 days ago
    Boy isn’t that the truth!
    3 days ago
    I think you know best what works for you, so I will only encourage you to continue to refute the requests of the wily brain! Stay with what's working for you. And know that if it STOPS working, tweak your plan.

    I personally find that staying out of the kitchen after supper really cuts down on my temptations.

    Good luck!
    3 days ago
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    Disclaimer: Weight loss results will vary from person to person. No individual result should be seen as a typical result of following the SparkPeople program.

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