Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Your Weight Loss Reasons May Be Keeping You Fat

I was reading a weight loss book last night (which I will mention later) about motivation for losing weight. I had a little bit of a light bulb moment that I think might be helpful to many people, as it was to me. The basic statement was that when your reasons for losing weight (or doing anything, really) are to *avoid* or *escape* some negative situation, you will likely fail. The explanation (based on research that I have not yet read) is that when you act on a situation to get some kind of pressure off (say, your clothes are too tight or you hate being fat), the action you take leads to a lessening of the pressure that was causing you to act. And then you don't feel as motivated to continue, so you go back to your old habits. The author goes on to explain that in order to succeed long term, it is important to be focused on the end result you want... on what you WANT to happen... rather than what you are trying to AVOID.

So... losing weight because you want to wear size 10 jeans, have a blood pressure of 110/70, fit on the carnival rides next summer, and be able to run a mile is far more likely to succeed than losing weight because you want to get out of the plus sizes, stop having acid reflux, get rid of the knee pain, and not be stuck in the house. It might seem like a minor difference, but for me, it is huge.

In fact, this is *just* what I needed to read at this point in my weight loss journey. Just a couple days ago I wrote about how the weight loss no longer seems urgent to me. I lost 90 pounds and I have basically eliminated ALL those reasons I wanted to lose weight: the headaches, the reflux, the joint pain, the immobility, the heart palpitations... all gone. The plus sized clothes? All gone. The sadness when I looked in the mirror? Totally gone. I have a rich life now. I am actually very happy, whether I have an on plan eating day or off plan. I don't feel guilt about food. I love my life and enjoy it whether it includes days of Medifast shakes or plates of lasagna. I no longer assign morality to noodles on a plate. So... should I keep losing weight? Or not?

Should you?

It's similar for all of us. We don't HAVE to lose weight. Whether you're 150 pounds or 450 pounds, it is a *personal choice.* The only time morality comes into weight loss, in my opinion, is when your choices about weight and health are harming another person... say, your child who may grow up motherless if you decide to remain morbidly obese. But that's a topic for another day. In general, if a person wants to remain overweight or obese it is not BAD or GOOD, it is their body and their life and I say if you are happy... TRULY HAPPY where you are, and are willing to accept (and fully understand) the consequences, then good for you! I have lots of large friends and relatives and I love them very much, no matter what they decide to do (or not do) about their weight.

So how to decide? I think a lot of people decide to lose weight because they "should." Because they know people see them as fat, they see all the models on TV and the dieting ads and figure they must be somehow unacceptable as they are. But I think that's a mistake. Look deep down inside you and instead of thinking of all you want to avoid or escape, tell me:

What do you want to gain?
What do you envision as your life, your body, your health in a year? Five years? Ten?
Be honest. What do you *really* want?

Not "I want to lose weight." But more specific, in positives: "I want to remain within 5 pounds of 220" or maybe "I want to wear size 10 jeans" or perhaps "I want to weigh 145." Even better, imagine the details of the life you desire for yourself in the future. What are you doing? How do you spend your time? How much strength do you have? How active are you?

Try to answer without thought to what you think "should" be your answer. If everyone else disappeared, what would YOU want?

I will answer this for myself.

In a year, I want to weigh 140 pounds. I want to have strength in my arms and muscles that I can FEEL in my legs and abs. I want to shop, lift, carry things, and move things with ease. I want a relationship with food that is healthy, fueling myself with whole, natural, local foods and much as possible. I want to walk without pain, shop for beautiful clothes, and go anywhere with confidence. I want to know my body is the healthiest it can be. This is what I want for myself.

And even further out, I want to be a happy, active, exciting grandma someday and watch my great grandkids grow up!

Now, writing it out, I see that this is something within my control. I can make this happen. Instead of eating a candy bar because "after all, I look pretty good, I am happy, and my knees don't hurt anymore," I can put the candy down and go after my real goals of health, strength, and beauty.

These reflections came when I was reading a book that Medifast sent me (for free) called Dr. A's Habits of Health. If you're on Medifast it is a great read. If not, there is still a lot of good information but I'd check it out at the library rather than buying it, since the author is the Medical Director of Medifast so it is more geared towards those on this program.

Take some time and ponder your own true feelings and desires. Maybe write them down or blog about them. See if you can uncover some new insights from within. Changing your reasons may change your life.


Anonymous said...

Stating goals in a positive fashion always feels better for me too.

Dinah Soar said...

That totally makes sense!

CathyB said...

CLICK! (that was a light bulb!!!) LOVE THIS!!! Thanks for articulating it so well. I'll be back to read it again.

CathyB said...

CLICK! (that was a light bulb!!!) LOVE THIS!!! Thanks for articulating it so well. I'll be back to read it again.

Anonymous said...

According to NLP (via people like Tony Robbins), some people gravitate towards goals and others "away from" goals. Also, some people are driven by internal or external goals. Finally, you can be motivated by visual, audio, or kinesthetically. For example, I am a toward, internal, kinesthetic, so weight loss for me is about having more energy, moving quickly and fluidly, being able to hike, canoe, and run. I also use a variety of biomarkers, cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar, fat %, as well as weight/ bmi, as health goals, and they are set purposely high - not just low enough to avoid medication but the ranges they would expect from a healthy 20-something.

For someone else, they might be motivated by fitting into attractive dresses, hearing compliments from friends and lovers. It's certainly an interesting exercise to come up with a time when you were very motivated to do something - and determine what it was that motivated you. For me, the threat of bad grades just induced stress without motivation, but the hope of learning something meaningful and useful was engaging.

Shan said...

I think you just hit it on the nail with me. Thanks for the post!

Anonymous said...

It is kind of like focusing on where you're going and not where you've been. Law of Attraction is about focusing on what you want, not what you don't want. I forgot this a lot! Thanks for the reminder. Keep up the good work

-70 lbs so far!

cmoursler said...

I turned the very corner you are talking about a while back. moving towards something rather than moving away. it makes all the difference in the world.
Moving towards is a much more powerful motivator.

Anonymous said...

You--and your book--put into words something I have just recently realized.

Although there are other things going on with me being stuck in the 170s ALL summer, one of the things is that feeling of no longer being the fattest woman in the room. The relief of excaping morbid obesity.

My last MD visit showed cholesterol, blood pressure, glucose all in the normal range. I feel so much better, move easier thru my days. So those health markers have been met, too.

I've realized--well, what you said. :) I left so many negative things behind that forward momentum fizzled.

The other part of that--for me, at least--is the fear of moving forward into uncharted territory.

Yes. Relief at my escape from the FAT and fear of the future. Both have kept me stuck this summer.

This post helped me nail down the first part. Still working on the bizarre second part. :)

I have started rethinking goals, too. In fact, your paragraph on that pretty much sums up what I've come up with. I need to be stronger... Well, I won't repeat. you said it well.



Roxie said...

For me, framing all things, including how I see myself, in a more positive light has been the key. I "rebel" less when I'm moving toward something than when I'm preventing something.

Great insight.

The Captain's Daughter said...

Terrific post!

Someone once told me that rewarding myself with food after reaching a milestone in my weightloss was actually PUNISHMENT - Hearing that was a light bulb moment for me. I was also told that instead of thinking of on-plan eating days as a restriction, (to what I'd rather be doing, which is eating whatever I want without regard to my health) I needed to think of on-plan eating days as Green lights, (Go!) toward my goals and off-plan eating days as red lights (Stop!) that prevent me from reaching my weight loss goals.

Flipping those things around in my brain made a difference.

Thank you for your insight!

Anonymous said...

I really do agree with this. When my goal was to be "not a plus size" it made it a lot harder to be motivated when I got to wear clothes from regular stores. I have made my goal size 10 for New years, but I'd like to be 6 or 8 as a final size. I have a goal weight, and some people doubt me and tell me that at a size 14 I do not need to lose any more weight. I hate when people do that! I hate when they are smaller than me but get "worried" that I'll lose too much weight. How is that their business as long as I'm in a healthy weight range? I'm NOT healthy yet! I am not finished!

Ok, somehow I got on a rant there, but I agree, it's a lot better to aim to be something positive than to aim to get away from something negative.

Theresa said...

I SOOOO get this! I totally agree my head had to enter a whole new realm to finally kick the fat off.
I want to be tiny, I *am* tiny under all these insulating layers! So many of my adult cousins have had to shop in chidren's wear......I have those same tiny genes! Full speed ahead towards goal!!
Goal =
*thin beautiful arms and legs

*shopping the sale racks for all the size small shirts left behind ;)
*feeling free and fresh, able to stand tall (ha ha ha) and like what the mirror displays.

Thank you Lyn. As you know I don't have a blog..... but my journal will have a BIG entry today. This has really helped so much.

Christina said...

What do I want to gain? I want to be able to play with the kids and have the energy and stamina to keep up with them. I want to set an example for my children so that hopefully they don't grow up and be overweight. When I am out with my husband, I want people to look at us and say "That man has a beautiful wife." I want to move without it hurting. I don't want that roll sitting in my lap where my children should be.
I could go on and on and on.

Thanks for stopping by blog!! It helps to know people are there.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Sarah. I am hoping that my goals to get stronger, run a 5k and fit into size 9 jeans will be motivating. I tried to do this myself and didn't have the dedication, hence joining the gym and working with a personal trainer. I need a lot of support to try to do this. Keep inspiring me lady by reaching YOUR goals!

Anonymous said...

Yep. It's all in how you frame it. I'm not a 320 lb woman who lost 186 lbs. Rather: I'm a 134 lb. woman who found myself!

Pretty amazing what we can do when we change our perspectives!

Jess @ THIR said...

I'm linking you in today's blog... I just realised why I have been stuck for so damn long.

Thank you so much :)

Mind Over Fatter said...

Excellent message and thanks for sharing. It has reassured me that this time I seem to be on the right path having set longer term goals. If you care to have a look and give me your perspective, that would be great...


Anonymous said...

Thanks!! This post feels very helpful to me. I'll try to make my positive goals clear to myself, and to keep them in mind.


Roxie said...

I want to look younger.
I want to firm up what I have.
I want to look better naked.
I want to have more energy.
I want to feel strong.
I want to play and be active with my kids.
I want to prove to myself that I can do it.
I want to stick around to watch my grandchildren grow up.

Wow, this was fun. Thanks for the very inspirational post! Glad I stopped by today!