The #1 Reason Weight Loss Efforts Fail
by Pat Barone, CPCC, MCC
“America’s Weight Loss Catalyst”
The biggest roadblock to successful weight loss isn’t the food you eat and it’s not the exercise you do.
It’s negative thinking.
Witness this scenario from one of my clients’ weight loss journals (used with permission):
I should lose weight.
I ought to lose weight.
I need to go on a diet.
I will start Monday. Mondays are easier. Actually, why should I wait until Monday? I’ll start today! It will be awful. It will be terrible but, once I start losing a few pounds, I’ll get excited and then I’ll be motivated to continue. Isn’t that how it works?
7:30 a.m. – black coffee, one hard-boiled egg.
10 a.m. – Starving. Oh! Someone brought it donuts!
But I shouldn’t have one. Even though I’m starving. I actually feel a little faint. Hey, why does Julie get to eat donuts and I don’t? How does she stay thin if she eats donuts? I can’t have a donut. I am so fat. Look at her! She’s really enjoying that donut and she doesn’t care who sees her either! I wonder why I eat a donut and look like a tub of lard and Julie eats whatever she wants and never gains a pound. Life just isn’t fair!
11 a.m. – It’s not lunch time but I am so hungry I could eat a horse. I’m going to the deli and get lunch early.
11:40 a.m. – Checked the salads but they looked kind of wilted and not too fresh. Looked at the soup list. Nothing I like. There really wasn’t anything else to eat so I ordered a cheeseburger and fries, then grabbed a brownie at the checkout. Oh boy, do I feel guilty. I am so weak. I have no willpower whatsoever. I was doing so well all morning! I didn’t even have a donut! I have really blown it now.
I wonder how many calories were in that cheeseburger I just inhaled? It couldn’t have been much, it was small. In fact I’m still hungry. I’ll never lose weight. I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I just can’t do anything right.
I don’t know how I even survive at this job. I’m completely inept. It’s a good thing my boss is oblivious. He doesn’t see what an imbecile I am.
I didn’t set out in life to be an awful person. I’m not even sure it’s my fault. Who can I blame? Oh, that’s silly. It’s my fault. I’m weak, I’m stupid, I’m inept, I can’t do anything right. I’m a blithering idiot……
It’s easy to see how this kind of downward spiral can take a person from eating a cheeseburger to being “an awful person” in record time. Here are some components of negative thinking:
1. Problems are seen as permanent,
2. You identify yourself as the problem or the cause of the problem, then
3. You begin to feel like the problem is a symbol of your personal defectiveness.
I like to contrast the journal entry above with a story of my own. I stopped at a local cut-rate gas station about a year ago and filled up my gas tank. A while later, my car started sputtering and acting as if the engine was going to die. The car wouldn’t accelerate and I felt as though I was put-puttering along while cars all around me sped by. I immediately connected the lack of performance with the new gas. It would run fine for a while, then start the hesitation routine again. I continued driving the car until it was about a quarter of a tank below full and refilled at another gas station. The problems lessened and again, I drove it until it was a quarter of a tank less than full and refilled again. The problems ceased.
The point here is that I certainly didn’t get emotional about the bad gas (probably mixed with water) that I bought. I certainly didn’t blame myself for it. I made a mental note never to buy from that particular gas station again, I did what I could to solve the problem and I moved on.
Food is fuel for your body. It’s the gasoline of life. That is all it is.
Separating it from negative thinking and over-emotionalization is a huge step in changing your attitude about food. Destructive and negative thinking need to be recognized and eliminated, especially when it comes to the all-important process of fueling your body.
Where to start? You might start with “noticing.” As you make decisions in your daily life about when, how and what to eat, practice noticing what goes through your head, what you say to yourself and where that leads your thoughts.
Once you have tuned in and can really hear the noise in your head, you can start to change it. But the first step is to listen to what you are saying to yourself.
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