Personality traits of high achievers that serve us so well in school or at work are the very same traits that make quitting unhealthy habits so difficult.
As a high achiever or perfectionist, quitting emotional or binge eating might be more difficult for you. However, you also have inherent superpowers can actually help you if used the right way!
To understand why, we need to dig a little deeper into what makes you a high achiever.
High achievers always set very high expectations for themselves.
High expectations usually mean challenging goals that we expect to achieve as instantly as possible. When we make an effort, we expect to see the result – plain and simple. That’s how we’ve succeeded all through our lives, through using achievement and success to motivate ourselves. Unfortunately, this approach backfires when we want to quit emotional eating or even lose weight.
High achievers also expect themselves to be good at everything and have a perfect life.
That includes have a great body in addition to rocking it in their personal and professional lives. The more and more we gain weight and move away from the body we so desire, the more and more we try to control what we eat to “diet” and lose weight. It is said that the forbidden fruit tastes the best – so we crave the foods we avoid until we end up bingeing on them.
High achievers love to be fully in control of their life – directing and dictating what’s happening to them.
When we start to feel out of control about our careers, relationship or our future, we overcompensate by trying to establish a sense of control through food. Food is always there – it doesn’t judge, it’s sane and obsessively controlling how much and what we are eating helps us feel better.
Lastly as high achievers, we also always need to moving towards our goals.
When our life seems messed up, we make our weight and bodies our mission in life – it becomes our only source of achievement and our biggest goal. So when we seemingly fail at our only goal in life by emotional eating and gaining weight, our self-confidence crumbles. Without our confidence, we are nothing. We wonder, “If I can’t even stop myself from eating a cookie, how can I achieve all of my dreams?”
How To Use Your Superpowers
Though it might seem like the odds are stacked against high achievers, we can easily turn our biggest weaknesses into our biggest superpowers as well.
#1 First, we need to re-establish the intrinsic locus of control that’s so natural to all of us.
This means reconnecting with our real self which believes that we can influence events and their outcomes, that we are not at the mercy of external forces.
A long time spent failing to stop compulsive eating can make us feel like we don’t have enough willpower or discipline. A long time spent unsuccessfully trying to lose weight can make us feel like our genes are to blame. After all, since we’ve tried everything and nothing’s worked – could genes be the answer to all our worries?
Don’t even entertain such thoughts!
The first step is to realize that the changes you need to make to see results are in your control. You were just missing a piece to the puzzle, that’s all.
#2 Second, we need to set the right expectations for ourselves.
The entire weight loss industry has marketed itself for decades as being an instant solution – so of course, we expect instant results.
What we want though is not just weight loss or fad diets anymore, right? We want to feel healthy mentally and physically, be happy with our bodies and stop eating so compulsively. We want to find peace with food. We want to enjoy healthy food and cake all together.
These are not just instant diet changes that you’ve been led to believe but a complete lifestyle overhaul. Changing decades of thinking from “dieting” to “health” isn’t going to happen overnight. It’s a process that will take months, at the end of which you can have a deeply relaxing and intuitive relationship with food.
Being prepared for this journey to take some time is the second step in using our superpower.
When we know the effort and time involved, we are able to keep ourselves motivated and stay patient through the process just like getting that stellar GPA after 4 years of study or getting promoted after a few years of hard work.
#3 Third, we need to capitalize on our inner drive to stay the course.
Once we’ve set the right expectations for ourselves and reconnected with our internal locus of control, we start feeling more like ourselves. We find it easier to get into the zone and our confidence bounces back.
This is the time to connect to our old selves, the one that gets excited chasing a new goal (especially difficult ones!), thrives under pressure and treats the entire setup like a big game that’s meant to be enjoyed.
Adopting this mindset of “play” helps us enjoy the challenge that quitting emotional binge eating is.
Instead of being disappointed and losing face, we often find ourselves jumping back into the fray to try again because we feel so much more energized and motivated than before.
#4 Lastly, we need to work smart not just hard.
A trademark quality of high achievers is that we know just hard work doesn’t cut it. We also need to find smart solutions to problems.
Imagine a scenario at work – let’s say you work for a business trying to increase its sales. You hypothesize that plan A will work but it doesn’t. Maybe you try a second time and then a third. After that, you most likely conclude that it’s not the right approach and switch strategies, right?
Why don’t we ever do that when we want to stop binge eating though? We keep dieting over and over again even though it doesn’t work for us.
Applying the same work mindset to our food habits, we can clearly see that we need a different strategy.
Give it a go and tell me what you think in the comments!