As many of you already realize, one of the reasons you don’t consistently engage in behavior which will help you reach your eating or weight goals is that you don’t follow through with intentions—activities you want to do, successes you wish to achieve, goals you desire to reach. Some of you have difficulty establishing intentions, while others set, then forget, about them or allow themselves to be derailed.

Perhaps you don’t know how to set an intention. Start by reflecting on what you’d like to change about your eating, including thoughts or behaviors. Would you like to stop grazing when you’re not hungry, clear your head of negative chatter, be kinder to yourself after a binge or a purge? It doesn’t matter what your intention is. Just make sure it’s clear, doable, realistic, and measurable (that is, you know when it happens or doesn’t). After identifying an intention, say it aloud and notice your reaction. Is there a voice in your head laughing at you, insisting you’ll never succeed, or admonishing that you’re prideful in wishing for such an unattainable goal? Try to understand where these voices come from, then silence them. They’re protecting you from disappointment, hurt, or wounding from the past. At one point in your life they were helpful and adaptive, but no longer. Next, write down your intention and again notice and analyze your reaction. Keep repeating and writing your intention until the negative messages stop.

Intentions aren’t negotiable. They’re goals set in the cognitive part of your brain to enhance your life. Don’t get derailed by feelings about your intentions. In fact, for once, forget emotions. They don’t belong in the equation. Once you’ve already made a decision, your emotions have no place in turning it into action. Avoid debating with yourself. Don’t allow discussion to begin because, when you do, your intentions will get lost in the shuffle and it’s more than likely that your heart will over-rule your head.

What if you’re in the moment and totally forget that you had an intention to say, stop agreeing to do things that aren’t in your self-interest? Well, you have to back track and think about whether you really want to have that intention. If it’s healthy for you, then redouble your efforts and next time someone asks something inappropriate of you, say no. Now hear this: If you continually “forget” about or don’t follow through with an intention, it means you have an equally strong (hidden) intention that’s getting in the way. In the case of saying no and speaking up, maybe the unconscious intention is to never have people angry at you. If so, you have to undo the unresolved, underlying conflict before you can succeed at putting your intention into consistent action.