When is it all going to click? I hear this question a lot. Clients and message board members want to know when they’re going to consistently and automatically engage in “normal” eating behaviors—stop eating when satisfied, prevent a binge, feel full but not purge, keep going to the gym even when they’re busy, or not regain weight they struggled hard to lose. The answer to this question may not be what you want to hear.

It’s natural to want the effort you put into “normal” eating and growing mentally healthy around food and the scale to pay off. But, in my experience, troubled eaters can get so hyper-focused on when things are going to get easier and “click,” that they become distracted from the hard work that leads to this eventual transformation. The fact is that the click comes at the end of a long, nose-to-the grindstone process. It doesn’t happen simply because you want it to and never, ever as quickly as you’d like.

Instead, getting behavior to click has everything to do with the actions you take in the present and with practice, practice, practice. When you do something over and over, often enough for it to become rote, it will click. Focusing on changing behavior is the only way it will happen. I’ve seen clients bust their butts and not even realize that things have finally clicked for them—and miss the click completely. Why? Because new behavior has become so natural they forgot they were waiting for it!

Waiting for the click smacks of wanting a reward for hard work as opposed to putting energy into doing the hard work because you know that’s the only course to follow. Do it because it feels right, because it makes you proud, because it makes you feel better physically, emotionally and mentally, because you won’t tolerate abusing your body or your heart for one more minute, because it’s the only way you want to be. Get it? Stop looking for an external reward for your actions. The actions themselves are the reward. That’s what’s meant by being internally motivated. Truth is, far too many troubled eaters have been raised to seek the pot at the end of the rainbow, rather than enjoy the rainbow itself.

Next time you get frustrated that new behavior hasn’t clicked yet, refocus on doing good for good’s sake, on making positive, healthy choices in the moment, on how proud you feel when you treat your body well, on the process of becoming rather than arriving. The irony is that the more you focus on the click, the longer it will take for it to happen, but focus on doing and, before long, you’ll be clicking away.