Traction versus Distraction towards your Weight Loss Goals

One of the biggest reasons people do not reach their final weight loss goal and are unable to maintain it is due to lack of consistency.  There is no magic wand when they are striving for a big goal in life.  It takes consistent small steps towards the big goal.

I recently listened to a webinar on this topic about lack of consistency  by a Nir Eyal author of the book, Indistractable.  He writes, consults and teaches about the intersection of psychology, technology and business.  He has taught as a lecturer in marketing at Stanford Graduate School of Business and the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford.

In his webinar he states that people are always in a state of action but this action could be based on “traction” or “distraction”.

Traction is when we are taking action or using our time intentionally as planned towards a goal we have chosen.  

Distraction is when we make plans to take action steps towards a goal but we let other things distract us from following through on what we had planned to do.

I have heard many people say that when they are trying to lose weight, they have a plan, they know what they need to do and yet somehow they get distracted from their plan and get distracted from the necessary steps they need to take each day. The day starts off great and suddenly they find themselves eating food that is not part of their plan …..something distracted them from their plan.

This is why I found his webinar so interesting because much of the information he was providing I could see being applied to people trying to lose weight but find they cannot maintain their consistency. 

So what causes this state of being Distracted???

Nir says that there are studies showing that there are internal triggers and external triggers that will push us in the direction of traction or distraction.

External triggers are obviously something outside of ourselves that will get our attention and could push us towards taking action that is keeping us on track such as an alarm setting to remind us to drink our water throughout the day.  LIkewise there are external triggers that could also act as a distraction  and pull us off track such as pinging of our phone that results in a lost hour of scrolling through social media feed distracting us from our plan to prep and cook an awesome healthy dinner…. Oh well guess we will order in:(

This next statement may come as a surprise……

External triggers only account for 10% of the reasons that determine if we stay on track or get distracted.

Internal triggers account for 90% of the reasons.

Internal triggers are the thoughts and feelings we experience which we may or not be aware of and they can be very powerful trigger to get distracted and likewise they are also be triggers that help us stay on task.   The main purpose behind these internal triggers is for us to avoid being uncomfortable.  So if creating new habits such as  going to the gym, going grocery shopping or taking time to prep food are making us feel uncomfortable then there is a high likelihood we will be triggered to let ourselves get distracted and be pulled off track by actions that let us stay comfortable.  It is more comfortable scrolling through social media feed, watching netflix and  sitting in our comfy chair than changing our routine.

In order to lose weight you need to follow through on your plans and all the necessary steps consistently, no matter what plan or approach you are using to lose weight.    So if any of these necessary steps and actions are making you feel uncomfortable it is much more challenging to keep taking the necessary steps consistently. This can explain why you may find that you get distracted so easily from the necessary steps. 

The additional aspect to weight loss that makes it even more challenging aside from getting distracted from the plan is that Food and the action of eating  can be used as the distraction from something else that is making us feel uncomfortable.  I hear this from so many people before they start working with me.   They realize that they turn to their comfort foods if they are feeling bored, stressed, anxious, angry etc.   If they need to do a work task that is boring or difficult they will procrastinate by eating, even though the source of discomfort has nothing to do with following a weight loss plan,  food is being used as the distraction from the task at hand.  

Here is a helpful suggestion based upon Nir’s research that you could use to help with your weight loss journey. 

Think about all the times when you get “distracted” from taking the steps to stay on track with your weight loss plan and ask yourself “what am I feeling uncomfortable about or how is taking this action step making me feel uncomfortable”.   As Nil says, in order to continue with traction and avoid distraction the first step is to learn to “manage our pain”, in other words learn how to manage what is making us feel uncomfortable about taking that necessary step. Once you have identified what is making you feel uncomfortable then you can take the steps to manage that feeling so you can stay on track. 

Increasing your awareness and changing your perspective on your weight loss setbacks is a very powerful first step to mastering your journey towards successful weight loss and maintenance.