3 Steps to Managing Urges

An "urge" is a strong desire or impulse.

I wish I could tell you that losing weight or achieving any health goal can be accomplished without having to deal with impulses. But that would be a lie. The truth is that experiencing urges is not only part of the process, it is mandatory. It is essential to work with and manage our urges if we truly want to experience what it is like to actually be a healthy person versus white knuckling and struggling with "discipline" for the rest of our lives. This may sound like bad news, but it is actually good news.

You see, when you think that you should not have to experience urges and temptations, you are unprepared for them when they arise. And, if you are trying to change a health habit or lose weight, the urges will definitely arise. But if you know that the urges are part of the process, you can respond to them with your prefrontal cortex (the planning part of your brain) instead of reacting to them in the moment. 

Here are 3 steps to help manage those little buggers when they do show up:

1)  Pause. The moment you realize that you are having an urge to eat or drink something that is not on your protocol, stop what you are doing, including chewing, if the food has already made it's way into your mouth without you realizing it! Recognize what is going on in your environment as well as how you are feeling physically and emotionally.

2) Choose. Make a conscious choice at this moment. Think through the impulse. Quickly weigh out the consequences of giving in to the impulse or just letting it be. Think about which choice supports the desired results that you want. Then say to yourself, "I am consciously choosing ___ because___." An example of either choice might look like:

"I am consciously choosing to eat this snack because I have a two hour meeting and cannot handle a headache."  OR, "I am consciously choosing to feel this impulse and not give into it because I said I would not snack and I know lunch is in one hour."

3) Savor. Regardless of the choice you make, I want you to savor the moment. I know that seems counter intuitive on both sides of the choice. But f you choose to eat, then enjoy it. Do NOT beat yourself up about a conscious choice. There is no reason to do that at all.  Do not scarf down the food, taste it, be grateful for it.  And, the same goes for savoring the unmet urge. Yes, I said that. What I mean by that is to stay attentive to the urge. What does it feel like in your body? How intense is it? Where exactly are you feeling the urge? Now, I know we all down't have hours to sit and stare t our bellies. But, you may be surprised at how quickly the urge subsides.

When I first started doing this work myself, I would think of my unwanted urges like a small child throwing a temper tantrum. I know that is a little strange-but it really worked for me. It was a way  to distance myself (my prefrontal cortex) from the physical sensations that my body was producing.

Remember that urges are completely normal. Urges are what keep us alive. But when we give in  to urges that are not in alignment with what we truly want, we are not only stuck in a physical sense, but it also drains us emotionally.

Use Pause, Choose and Savor (PCS) to respond to urges and learn how to control them instead of them controlling you. Trust me, it is an amazingly powerful feeling and it tastes way better than any cupcake.









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