I have lost 7 stone in weight. It sometimes feels like I’m talking about someone else when I say that. My identity was so wrapped up with being overweight that it’s taken a lot of time and effort to shake how it made me feel and the thoughts that ran through my mind.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve lost weight before but in the past I regained (and more). Even after having weight loss surgery the weight piled back on. I was particularly ashamed of that. In fact, I spent most of my twenties and thirties wallowing in shame, accented with brief notes of successful weight loss that I celebrated before diving headfirst back into pudding.
The thing is, I was really stressed and sweet food gave me brief comfort. It gave me a lift during a moment that I didn’t have the tools to manage. I didn’t like how being angry, or sad, or worried made me feel. I needed it to go away and the dopamine hit I got from the chunk of cake I’d just devoured replaced the negative emotion with a little bit of joy.
For me, being overweight was the label I carried everywhere. In my head, the label said FAILURE and was accompanied with cruel internal dialogue that repeatedly told me just how useless and worthless I was. In hindsight, there’s no way I could have been successful with those negative affirmations in my head. I may as well have stuck a sign on every mirror in the house saying, “You are nothing!”.
When I hit my highest weight, three years ago, I had spent the previous year frantically alternating between diets. Let’s be honest, I could give you the calorie value of any food with 10% accuracy. I’m well educated when it comes to macronutrients, glycaemic index and fasting protocols. When I analysed past efforts I knew the types of eating that worked for me. I knew which foods filled me up, satiated my appetite and gave me energy. I knew which foods made me crave junk, gave me an energy slump or left me neck-high in guilt.
In 2016 worked with a coach to address the feelings of overwhelm that I struggled with daily. I noticed that the mindset change and reduced anxiety helped with cravings and when I tried again the weight loss happened more easily. I still had bumps in the road but as I worked through my coach training, I was able to effectively apply the learnings to myself. This time I knew what had gone wrong and more importantly, I knew the steps I needed to get it right.
So, what’s the point in this post? Firstly, I just want to say that if you see similarities between your experience and mine then just know that you’re not alone. Secondly, I want to share with you some of my discoveries over the last few years in relation to losing excess weight. I should be clear though, this is not a blog about food or diet. If you would like to know about the approach I took then please contact me but I am not a nutritionist or dietician. However, I’ve read hundreds of diet books, undertaken tons of research and have come to know my body very well. This is about mindset and knowing yourself.
Every year, millions of people spend time and money on a quest to find that perfect diet, life changing surgery or magic pill. Pharmaceuticals spend billions on research and trials into drugs that repress hunger or prevent the absorption of fat. I can’t quite bring myself to tote up the amount I’ve spent on weight loss but it’s well into the tens of thousands. Then there’s the amount of time I’ve spent on my ‘weight issue’. I must have spent several hours everyday for the last 30 years ruminating over my weight. No wonder I’ve done so well at keeping the weight on. Being fat was all I could think about.
When I was taking driving lessons the instructor told me that I should always look at where I wanted to go. He said that if I looked where I didn’t want to go then I’d find myself steering in that direction. The turning point for me was realising that this is what I was doing. I was obsessed about being overweight.
So, I knew that I overate because it made me feel better and I was focussed on what I didn’t want. If you’re thinking that it couldn’t be that simple and why am I not talking about carbs and calories then I would like to share with you the truth about being over weight. It is not about the food. It might be about inherited habits, poor routine or self punishment. It might be about pressure from others, lack of self belief or, like me, an emotional crutch. But, it is not about the food. I would challenge anyone who said that they couldn’t tell me whether a daily bowl of salad or a daily chocolate bar was better for your long-term health. In fact, I would say that those who have repeatedly dieted have way more nutritional knowledge than your average slimjim.
Let’s say it one more time for luck….
IT IS NOT ABOUT THE FOOD
This realisation forced me to re-assess what I’d repeatedly been doing for the last two decades. I started the same diet plans at the same clubs and got the same results.
Maybe I believed the hype around success stories and therefore believed that something magical would happen and I’d get a different outcome to the I’d got the last 10 times.
As I’d identified what wasn’t working for me I now needed to do something different. I needed to do the opposite. This meant:
- Finding a different way to process negative emotion.
- Focusing on what I wanted.
Once I had cleared negative emotions from my past, like fear and anger, and put in new strategies to deal with challenging situations a weight was lifted from my shoulders. I still feel worried and angry but I have more productive ways to manage them.
I also created a very detailed vision of what my future looked like. It included a healthy, relaxed and content version of myself. Having a clear goal meant that I could work my way back to achieving that.
These two needs are something I work on everyday. The technique is just one of my approaches I use to develop as a person. As a result, I know I will grow, learn and achieve everything I want.
I hope you found this article helpful. By becoming more self aware you give yourself the best chance to identify the most effective change. Apparently, Albert Einstein said “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting a different result.”
How I got myself into such an unhealthy situation (both mentally and physical) is a matter for some deeper work that I’m not ready for yet. It’ll be important to do as I can use the information to help others.
And that is my goal, to help others. I’m a Transformation Coach. I help people work out what they want and how to get it. I help them change mindset and remove beliefs that get in the way from living the life they want to lead.
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You have the tools to solve every problem that you have. If you need help to access those tools then contact me.