Is Your Brain Fighting Against Your New Year’s Resolutions?

by Phyllis LeFevre, Certified Life Coach and NLP Wellness Practitioner

Did you make New Year’s resolutions this year to lose weight and / or start exercising?

If you answered “yes”, you aren’t alone: weight loss and fitness goals are the most mentioned resolutions every year! If you are sticking with it — making healthy eating choices and exercising consistently — give yourself credit and congratulate yourself!.

If not, what is stopping you?

According to Ray Hays, Ph.D., the answers often lie in the brain. There are parts of the brain that are logical and rational and want us to achieve our goal. These are located in the Prefrontal Cortex of the brain where we have our Willpower.

Then there is that part that is emotional and working toward giving us the pleasures we want to make us “feel” better. This is the Pleasure and Rewards part of our brain. Unfortunately, the Willpower and Pleasure and Rewards (read Temptation!) Centers can conflict with each other.

NLP teaches techniques that invert the usual relationship: the goal is to determine what our Reward System is and to get it from the front of the brain!

Here’s the good news…the Willpower portion of your brain can be like any muscle in your body: you can exercise it and make it stronger. By exercising the willpower portion of your brain, willpower becomes habit — something you do naturally and unconsciously.

So, how do you create a weight loss and fitness program that is achievable and successful? The first step is to set goals that are stated in the positive, present time — what you want, not what you don’t want.

When you made your New Years Resolutions, did you set goals? Were your goals positive (“I want to feel stronger”), or negative (“I don’t want to feel winded when I climb stairs”)?

Were they realistic? Were they achievable? Did you give yourself a time frame and, if so, what was it? How were you measuring your performance? What were your milestones and, if you reached any, did you give yourself credit for doing so?

Goals have to be both specific and realistic. It is important to start any transformative process with small, attainable, goals. For example, starting a diet planning to lose 5 pounds in one month vs. 20 pounds.

Next, write down your goals and list details such as when you will start, what foods you want to include, what days you will set aside to exercise. This also allows you to track your progress to see if you are meeting your goals. Set a time frame to accomplish the goals. If it is weight loss, that is easily measurable. If it is exercising regularly, again, make it measurable. Take action on the goals and do something every day.

Many people feel that having outside support is also important to goal achievement, and our NLP Life Coaching practice has certainly confirmed that being the case for many of our clients.

Look around you and find your support system so you are accountable to someone for reaching your goals. Whether you work with a Life Coach, personal trainer or friend, they can help you stay on track.

Phyllis LeFevre is a certified NLP Life Coach and Wellness Practitioner based near Raleigh / Durham, North Carolina, who develops individualized programs for permanent lifestyle change. Her company, Inspire Momentum NLP, works with clients in a one-on-one setting designing customized coaching programs that will ensure success. You can contact her at (801) 244 8333 or