The following was an anonymous question from the Question/Answer site Quora.
I found the question so challenging, so interesting, that I decided it should be addressed on my blog as well.
If you would like more info on the question, you can see the question and answers here.
I have been over weight since the day I was born. I just turned 28 and don’t know why I can’t get my weight under control. I am 5’7″ and 190lbs, female. I have done every diet imaginable and although I have gotten my weight as low as 150, it always climbs back. I feel like such a loser. It doesn’t take a doctorate to lose the weight. It’s just eat less, workout more. However, I am always find myself cheating myself out of my success. Wanting to lose weight has now taken over my life. I have done so much planning, preparing, wishing and dreaming that I have missed and neglected other parts of my life. I was never abused as a child, only tormented by the boys in class for being a big girl. Why then, am I making losing weight difficult for myself?
Where To Turn When Weight Loss is Hard
This is a sad state of affairs, in my eyes.
It’s people at the end of their rope with weight loss that justify this blogs existence.
It’s questions like these that drive me in what I do.
For many the act of weight loss seems hopeless or daunting, in this case only 28 years into life, and more recently we hear stories of even earlier in life
Self-loathing is a common issue I deal with on a regular basis, which generally confirms my opinion that mindset is what is most important for weight loss, not diet or exercise (though they do count, and need to eventually be included).
When there is no one else to blame, it is easy to blame ourselves.
Somebody must be at fault right?
It is the illusion of thought and blame that governs this reality to ourselves, many repetetive bad experiences with weight loss, leads to a continually fixed outlook on the potential results.
We think, we are sabataging ourselves, but it is not so.
The subconscious can’t stand to live in a constant state of worry or fear, it always prefers the known road.
It is simply easier to be complacent with the current status quo, than to change it.
Why Mindset Trumps Diet and Exercise
When we start a process of change from a low frame of mind, our low expectations for success are met with low long-term, lasting results.
When we start a process of change from a high frame of mind, we increase our expectations for success and are met with long-term, lasting results.
It is therefore essential to break free from our conventional line of thinking and adopt a new growth mindset to achieve what you wish to achieve.
What Do I Do?
First recognize that you (and specifically your thoughts) are not the ‘cause‘ of a lack of success in losing weight.
There really is no ‘sole‘ cause.
A lack of success is most likely a large combination of many smaller factors, (most often related to seven basic realms) that when added up, multiplied, or compounded eventually yield poor outcomes.
There may be some factors that contribute more significantly to the equation than others, but there is rarely ever ‘one thing.’
1. Divert your attention from the end outcomes, to controllable, actionable factors.
Forget about your previous outcomes, you can’t change them, what is done is done.
To move forward, you have to get focused on the present situation, not your past, and not where you’d like to be 3 months from now, by Christmas or next year.
Get your mind focused on now.
It’s the small factors (that you have immediate control over) adding up over an extended period of time that led to where you are now, and it’s changing these same small factors that will lead you to where you want to be, but only if you focus on improving them today.
Stop thinking about ‘I’m not where I want to be yet’ and spin it to be ‘did I improve something today?’
Start getting better at something…anything…no matter how small…
[block]Small incremental changes have greater longevity than massive ones.
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2. Find a positive relationship (or several relationships) that can guide you in your journey.
Often we are afraid to seek out help, you don’t want to be a bore right?
However, mentorship is often a key determining factor in success.
You will only be as successful as the people you surround yourself with, so find somebody who has had the success you seek, or has helped people find the success you seek and start picking their brain.
I’ve yet to meet anyone (myself included) who didn’t have a few mentors on a path to success.
Oh, and it’s great to have an outsiders view on the situation too, somebody to pull your thinking back to the present moment.
3. With the aid of that mentor, friend or coach, find one thing (for now) you can change that will move you in the right direction.
Back to the process, stop trying to change A,B,C,D,E,F,G things all at once!
The #1 mistake people make trying to lose weight, is changing too much at once.
It’s impossible, especially when you’re juggling a career, a family, a social life, mortgage payments, etc…etc…
Think about the tiniest thing you could change right now, that is:
A) Almost mind-bogglingly easy to change.
B) Will take you one step in the right (positive) direction.
Then create a game plan for something you can repeat every day that will incrementally move towards changing one of these controllable factors.
i.e. Drink water instead of soda daily.
4. Think Long-Term.
The problem with focusing on the outcome, is that an outcome has a fixed time of arrival, and an impending sense of relief and fulfillment.
That sense of completion = relapse.
You suddenly have a desire to consume all the foods you deprived yourself of over the previous 3 months.
You suddenly have a desire to see your old friends rather than head to the gym.
Weight loss is not something you finish, an appropriate weight is who you are.
Discover it, and enjoy it, don’t work towards ‘completion,‘ work towards continuous improvement.
5. Stop Beating Yourself Up.
It’s important to remember that during any process that you don’t have to be ‘perfect‘ to be successful.
You’re going to miss some days, you’re going to find yourself in tricky situations, you’re going to eat food that isn’t exactly perfect for you.
It’s O.K, it’s like going on vacation, you still get back to work, often well-rested and with a rejuvenated sense of purpose and focus.
The more time you spend ‘thinking‘ about all the bad food you ate, or the exercise you missed, the lower your mindset will be, for longer, delaying the results you’re looking for.
Not to mention that beating ourselves up is what prompted this long blog post.
If you have a great story to tell of how any of these things helped you lose weight, I would love to read about it in the comments section.