What It Really Takes To Commit To Sustainable Weight Loss
If you look at my history with dieting, you might conclude that I am very committed to weight loss.
I have done Weight Watchers at least 7 times. I have done low carb, low fat, low calorie diets. I have hired a personal trainer. I have tried intermittent fasting. I have hired a dietician. I have read all the books, and I have purchased a million weight loss programs from Facebook ads. I’ve built a home gym and filled it with equipment.
And the list goes on and on.
Yes, from this, you might think I’ve been committed to weight loss. But do you want to take a guess how many of those internet programs I bought I actually opened or used? Or how long I actually stuck to any of the diets?
We’ve talked a lot about how your thoughts and feelings drive the actions you take, and those actions are what creates the results you have in your life. So it makes sense that you need to know what you’re thinking.
Before you begin your weight loss journey it's important to to take a step back and be the observer of your own thinking, which is something that requires a lot of self-compassion and practice.
- One thing you may start noticing as you do your thought downloads is that a good portion of the 60,000 thoughts you have every day are negative.
- Sometimes, when you develop the practice of witnessing your thoughts, and see all that negativity rolling around in your brain, and really recognize how much pain you’re in, the instinct is to turn off, turn away from those negative thoughts and dive back in to blissful ignorance. Of course, you have the option to do that, but in doing so, you really deny yourself the ability to change.
Now let me explain, when you turn away from all the negativity in your brain, you are only trying to change your life by changing your actions. You're in a never ending circle of
- Going on another diet
- Trying Weight Watchers for the 7th time
- Buying a new weight loss supplement
- Committing to 2 hours in the gym every day
- Restricting your diet
Doing this is like pulling weeds out of your garden and leaving the roots behind – if you don’t change your thoughts first, you eventually end up back in your old patterns and the weeds grow back.
You gain your weight back.
But if you can look deep inside yourself and understand WHY you eat the way you do and WHY you aren’t able to keep your weight off when you try, or WHY you just can’t take the actions you want to take to lose weight – when you can understand the thoughts and feelings driving all those behaviors, it becomes much, much easier to actually change your actions.
I know that I feel better when I exercise. But for a very long time, I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. I wanted to do it – I would sign up for gym memberships or for a class and then never go. Or I’d go for a week or two and then quit. I’d buy home gym equipment that I never used. Then of course I’d just beat myself up for not doing the thing I said I was going to do. And on and on for years! Whenever I thought about exercising, I felt defeated. Feeling defeated certainly wasn’t a feeling that was going to drive me to workout!
Of course, you can’t just snap your fingers and have new thoughts like that – I had to really sit with my thoughts and my pain, then show myself self-compassion and forgive myself for ditching the gym when my contract ended, and to also acknowledge how hard I’ve been beating myself up for it all these years.
Once I was able to think about this experience with love and self-compassion, I was able to focus on how great I felt during that year in the gym, and I truly believed that exercise would make me feel good. Every since then, I’ve been moving my body in one way or another on a daily basis, and I feel amazing!
When it comes to losing weight and keeping it off, or finding freedom from food, you have to go through this same process. You have to spend some quality time with your thoughts and feelings so you understand why you have the relationship you do with food, with your body, and with yourself. You have to really spend time with your thoughts around why you want to lose weight and change your relationship with food.
You have to really understand your reason for wanting to lose weight, and that reason has to be strong enough to produce the emotions you need to drive you to make the changes and get it done.
So how can you find your compelling reason, your Why power? Well, one great way is to look at why you haven’t done it yet. Why haven’t you lost your weight yet? Spend some time doing a thought download on this question. Ask yourself why you might want to keep eating the way you do now. Also ask yourself a crazy question – what are the good things about NOT changing how you eat?
- It’s helpful to look at it this way, because this is your compelling reason for where you are now
- You are at your current weight because of how you are eating now, because of the relationship with food you have right now
- You need to understand what’s driving your current actions
Sustainable weight loss is NOT about quitting or giving up when you hit a plateau or even gain a pound or two it's about taking massive action until you get the results you want.
Is it easier to just quit when it gets hard? Of course. But this is why you rely on your Why Power and hang on to your compelling reason to get you through the challenges. Part of taking massive action means anticipating obstacles and having a plan to overcome them. It’s about being willing to fail, try again, fail, try again, again and again until you find what works. Your old way of losing weight – dieting and then quitting when it either gets too hard or when you plateau – that ends right now.
I also want to distinguish between taking massive action versus taking passive action.
We love to stay super busy with passive action:
- Thinking about losing weight
- Reading the latest books or watching the latest Youtube workout videos
- Planning workout routines
- Scheduling workout days - leg day, arm day, cardio day
- Talking about it.
Massive action implies ACTION – doing the things you’re reading about, planning for, and scheduling. Passive action doesn’t risk any failure because you aren’t risking anything.
- You might notice a lot of fear and doubt creep up.
- This is normal – your brain loves to maintain the status quo – it likes to keep things as easy, habitual and as automatic as possible.
- Your brain will freak out when you want to change.
- Your brain is programmed to avoid discomfort, avoid pain, and use as little energy as possible – and change, of course, is the opposite of all these things.
- When you start to make changes to how you eat, and how you think about food, it will be uncomfortable for awhile, and so it will take a little bit of courage and patience to get through that. It’s during these times.
- You’re much better off relying on your Why Power instead of your willpower.
- There will be times when your doubt, fear and resistance will literally paralyze you from taking any action.
- Your brain will try to convince you that it’s unsafe to move forward, and it will do this by providing you with excuses and reasons to procrastinate.
- This is exactly the time you need to sit down and figure out what’s going on with your thoughts and feelings. This is the time to sit down and do a thought download.
I still have to do this all the time. My brain loves to tell me “I don’t have time” whenever I want to do something healthy for myself. So I know that whenever I start thinking that thought, or when I find myself ruminating on my to-do list, that I have to sit down and do a thought download. And pretty much every time I do this, I discover that there’s fear of changing underlying everything. And once I can acknowledge that, I am able to move forward and do what I set out to do.
Help yourself by being very intentional – write down your compelling reason every day. Think about it all the time. Practice your compelling reason. Eventually, this will become effortless. And when your thoughts become second nature to you, your actions will start to feel effortless too…it won’t feel like a struggle to change.
If you are ready to lose your weight once and for all get yourself on the waitlist for the Nourish Yourself: Body+Mind group coaching program. With this you get monthly videos and workbooks to guide you through sustainable weight loss. If you want to know more or get yourself on the waitlist, head on over to