And How to Overcome Them
Every voluntary thing we do in life comes down to a single decision. If you are overweight, it’s because you chose to be. Hold on a sec, let me explain.
I’m not saying you are overweight because you wanted to be. You didn’t want to gain weight, but you did choose to, indirectly. Here’s what I mean:
In a perfect world, you eat only when the brain tells you you’re hungry. If you are overweight, chances are you’ve trained your brain to want food, not just when you’re hungry, but for a number of other reasons, too. Maybe you get stressed and eating is comforting. Maybe you get bored and eating somehow helps. Maybe you’ve trained yourself not to miss out on special food occasions like parties or just eating out.
No one ever chooses to “get fat” directly. But we do make choices that can ultimately lead to that. Those choices – the actions we took – were all based on thoughts that preceded them. So, if our thoughts are the real culprit, then something must be wrong with how and what we think. This is especially evident when you decide to try to lose the weight. You’ll suddenly find yourself butting up against a sturdy foundation of “well-meaning” thoughts that are hard to break – and even recognize for that matter.
In my own experience (of losing over 100lbs.), I recognized 3 particularly strong thoughts that got repeated often and were detrimental to my weight loss success. Recognizing them was half the battle. The other half was breaking down these thoughts and building up new, better thoughts.
Here they are, and how to fix them.
1. “I can always start (or start again) later.”
Why not now? Have you ever really thought about it? What’s keeping you from starting (or continuing) now? Is it the fear of missing out on whatever thing you’re craving right now? Is it because you’re not motivated enough? Usually this thought first comes up after a couple days of starting to eat healthier. The excitement that you had a few days ago has worn off. The brain starts creating funny thoughts, trying to persuade you to give in to something not so healthy.
As long as you can start again later, you’ll feel better about making a poor decision. You’re convinced it’s not a poor decision if your intentions are still intact. But, here’s the thing. Whatever feelings you’re trying to avoid by giving up now and starting again later will still be there when you start again. You’ll have to face them at some point if you’re ever going to see the progress you’re really after.
How to fix it:
Stay in the moment. Stay present. That thought above always puts things off to another time – pretty much any time that isn’t this present moment. Don’t focus on the entire journey of losing weight, meaning don’t think down the road and use a fictional future to persuade your present. Instead focus on winning just the moment.
If you’re feeling something unpleasant and you want to eat to cover it, then you have an opportunity to stay present, make the right choice, and really face whatever it is you’re feeling. If you don’t face it now, then you’ll have to face it later. Do it now.
2. “I can just be happy with who I am.”
Who are you? Who is it that you want to be happy with?
It may seem obvious, but have you really ever asked yourself that question? You might be surprised by the answer, or you might be much more unclear on it than you thought.
Even then, the goal is not happiness. Happiness needs to be the by-product of something else. It needs to occur naturally. The goal, then, is to be the best version of you – and for your body to reflect that. Living life as a less-than-best version of you for long enough has caused bad eating habits and poor choices to result in extra weight on your body. You should be happy with who you are, but the person you see in the mirror right now is not the real you. Become the real you. Be happy with who you really are.
Losing weight won’t directly make you become the “real you”, either. Like happiness, weight loss will be a side effect of you living your life as the person you were meant to be. You just need to get that person back. And yes, it is possible.
How to fix it:
Forgive yourself for gaining the weight. It happened. Something went wrong below the surface, affecting your thoughts, then producing actions. Whatever it was needs to be dug up and dealt with. It starts by forgiving yourself. The next step is to love yourself. I mean really, truly, deeply love yourself.
To do these two things practically, start by simply telling yourself these two phrases: “I forgive myself” and “I love myself.” Repeat them until the brain begins to register them as “normal” thoughts. It might sound strange, but you’ll find it increasingly and incredibly effective over time.
3. “I am fat.”
If you’ve been overweight for a while, like I was, it gets easier and easier to start thinking that it’s “just who you are”. When we look in the mirror everyday and see an overweight version of ourselves looking back at us, the brain registers that and remembers it. As you get used to seeing that version of yourself, that thought can sneak its way in. You start to believe that it’s normal – that having extra weight is just part of who you are.
Our beliefs come from repeated input over time. That which gets repeated often and consistently becomes “normal”. It becomes the basis for which other thoughts are allowed in the brain. (This is why that exercise above is suggested.) Our thoughts literally shape, or reshape our brain.
Saying “I am fat” in your mind sends a signal to your brain. Repeat that thought often and the brain will establish it as a foundation – meaning it will make that thought a reality. It will eventually reinforce it as a core belief.
How to fix it:
What would happen if instead of telling yourself, “I am fat”, you said “I am fit”? What if you repeated that phrase all the time in your head? What if you never allowed that “fat” thought in your head again. Eventually, the brain will start to believe that you are fit. Your choices will start to reflect that belief.
From this point forward, don’t let a negative thought about yourself enter your mind. Counter it with what you want to be true. Just like the body takes time to change, so does the brain. Exercise the brain with these new thoughts consistently and you’ll see an internal transformation over time.
Our thoughts are powerful. They ultimately shape who we are, and how we look. We can try our best to fight them and work to build up more will-power, or we can lay a new foundation, and build on that. It takes time. Just like losing weight and keeping it off takes consistent effort over time, so does changing the brain. It won’t happen overnight.
You CAN do this. You can change the way your brain works and what thoughts get produced. It takes a steady diet of loving yourself and feeding your mind the right “nutrients”. Only allow thoughts in that support who you really are, that person you are working to become. It’s more than a better looking body. It’s a better brain, and a better “you.” – the real you.
For real this time.
If you haven't yet, grab the book. It lays the foundation of why we really gained the weight, how to fix what's broken from the inside out, and how to finally lose the weight for good: For Real This Time: Lose Weight, Quit Starting Over, Become the Real You.