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Weight Loss Groundhog Day

Weight Loss Groundhog Day

A Recent Conversation

Here’s part of a conversation that I had recently with a woman (SR) who had just fallen off the weight-loss merry-go-round for the millionth time – or thereabouts. She had started a new exercise program and eating regime on New Year’s day this year. As she does every year. (I’m CH below).

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    CH: “So how’s your eating going?” (I didn’t know the answer at this stage)
    SR: (drops head and avoids eye contact with me)
    CH: “Er, hello?” (trying to make eye contact)
    SR: “Don’t ask?”
    CH: “Why not?”
    SR: “I f***ed up – again.”
    CH: “What happened?”
    SR: “I was going great, I hadn’t eaten anything bad since before New Year and then last Saturday night I blew it all.”
    CH: “You blew five weeks of great work (diet, exercise) in one night? That’s quite the achievement. How did you do it?”
    SR: “My husband and I had a fight, he went to bed and I ate a whole block of chocolate.”
    CH: “And?”
    SR: “What do you mean… and?”
    CH: “Well, after you ate the chocolate, then what did you do?”
    SR: “I felt physically sick and mentally disgusted with myself, so I went to bed.”
    CH: “And when you got up on Sunday, what did you do then? Did you do your exercise and eat a healthy breakfast?”
    SR: “No.”
    CH: “Why not?”
    SR: “I was depressed and angry at myself.”
    CH: “So what did you do?”
    SR: “I ate shit all day because I was mad.”
    CH: “Did you exercise?”
    SR: “No, I was too grumpy.”
    CH: “That’ll help. So the girl who desperately wants to lose weight, eats junk food all day and does zero exercise because she’s mad at herself for eating junk food the night before? Your mind is a strange place.”
    SR: “Well, what’s the point when I had already blown all that good work?”

    An All-Too-Familiar Dialogue

    Now, I know this sounds like an unlikely conversation but it’s actually not; it’s absolutely true and much more common than (some of) you might imagine. But then again, it may seem very familiar to others. I have had this conversation many, many times, with many people. And yes, mostly women. Don’t shoot the messenger ladies, just relaying the facts.

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    What Logic?

    The irony of someone choosing to eat junk food on a Sunday because they are depressed about eating junk food on Saturday night is kind of amazing, but not altogether rare. When it comes to maintaining our fitness regime, our diet and our commitment to changing our body, it seems that many of us are fragile at best. Some of us have a default switch that’s permanently set to junk food, laziness, self-pity and excuses. It’s what we fall back on because we haven’t actually made those healthy behaviours non-negotiable habits in our life.

    If you identify with the above story in any way, here’s a few things to consider and a lesson or two that you might find helpful.

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    1. The woman I was speaking with had lost 7 kgs (15.4 lbs) since New Years day 2009. Now… in order to regain that weight eating chocolate only, she would need to consume 53,900 calories of milk chocolate (her preference) and that would have to be without expending any energy – which is obviously impossible. How many calories did she actually consume on her Saturday night choc binge? 625. That is, 1 x 125 gram block of milk chocolate. How many of those 125 gram blocks would she need to eat to regain all of her weight? Eighty six – and that would be on top of her normal daily (healthy) eating – because her normal healthy diet would take care of her energy requirements for the day and the excess cals from the choc would provide the additional energy for the weight gain. Do I need to say any more? So was her “I blew it” response something of a ridiculous and inappropriate over-reaction? And then some.

    2. It ain’t about about the chocolate anyway; it’s about the reaction to the chocolate. “Oh well, I blew it, I may as well eat everything that isn’t nailed down!” People respond like this all the time. I’ve watched it for years. People over-react, they create problems, they turn a minor hiccup into a major melodrama and they look for an excuse to throw in the towel. Then they wake up six months later, bigger, fatter and more miserable than ever. And so the very predictable and familiar cycle starts all over again. And again. Their life is like a weight-loss version of Groundhog Day. Some people have been losing and gaining the same weight for years.

    3. Of course one block of chocolate can’t make anyone fat but constantly surrendering to destructive behaviours can. For this lady, her problem is largely emotional and psychological, while the consequences are largely physical. Whenever she has a set-back – a normal part of the human experience – she has no coping skills, so she goes back to what she knows; food. A little instant pleasure and comfort… but ultimately an abundance of long-term pain; a life in a fat body that she despises. Her propensity to lose and gain weight is merely a by-product of what’s going on in her head. Does this sound familiar? Very familiar perhaps? The good news is that anyone can lose weight and keep it off. Forever. Is it easy? Not often. Is it possible? Very. Just because you haven’t done something to this point in your life doesn’t mean you can’t; it just means you haven’t. Yet. As I’ve said too many times, take your mind there and your body will follow.

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    4. Setbacks are not a sign of weakness, they are a sign of humanity. Things only have the meaning we give them and if we decide that eating a block of chocolate is the beginning of the end, it will be. Or we could simply choose different to create different. Next time you mess up – and you will – don’t over-think, don’t self-destruct, don’t beat yourself up and don’t seek sympathy. Instead, refocus, acknowledge what you’ve done, do different and get back to work. Princess. Sure I could fluff this message up a little, make it more feel-good, perhaps explore the psychology of it all and possibly talk about your triggers for reactive eating… but that’s really not me is it?

    Okay, do what you need to do.

    More by this author

    Craig Harper

    Leading presenter, writer and educator in the areas of high-performance, self-management, personal transformation and more

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    Last Updated on January 21, 2020

    The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

    The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

    Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

    your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

      Why You Need a Vision

      Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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      How to Create Your Life Vision

      Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

      What Do You Want?

      The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

      It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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      Some tips to guide you:

      • Remember to ask why you want certain things
      • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
      • Give yourself permission to dream.
      • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
      • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

      Some questions to start your exploration:

      • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
      • What would you like to have more of in your life?
      • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
      • What are your secret passions and dreams?
      • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
      • What do you want your relationships to be like?
      • What qualities would you like to develop?
      • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
      • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
      • What would you most like to accomplish?
      • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

      It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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      What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

      Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

      A few prompts to get you started:

      • What will you have accomplished already?
      • How will you feel about yourself?
      • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
      • What does your ideal day look like?
      • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
      • What would you be doing?
      • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
      • How are you dressed?
      • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
      • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
      • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

      It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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      Plan Backwards

      It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

      • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
      • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
      • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
      • What important actions would you have had to take?
      • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
      • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
      • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
      • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
      • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

      Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

      It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

      Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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