I want to talk a little bit about the psychology of weight loss.
Social media is overrun with shredded men and gloriously shaped women promising to reveal the 6 steps or the 10 minutes to flat abs and big bums. And while some are ethical enough to not focus on quick fixes, they almost entirely focus on the physical aspect of weight loss while missing a crucial aspect of the weight loss formula: psychology. (I’m sorry to say that the up-n-at-em motivational videos don’t suffice).
What has struck me in recent years is the large number of friends and acquaintances of mine who enlist the help of a personal trainer who puts them on a grueling regimen of weight training, HIT, and a restrictive, incredibly low-calorie diet. They put in the work for a good few weeks and see dramatic changes. But after a while, they complain of fatigue and intense hunger – not because they are naughty little fatties, but because the human body requires fuel to function optimally.
Inevitably, they fall off the bandwagon and into a Burger King, a little shook, confused, and terribly guilty. Friend after friend asks them ‘So tell me, how is the training going?’ And they have to admit, with their hands attempting to soothe discomfort with lots of stroking of the neck and face, that they are not a man/woman/z of their word. And who do they blame for this failure? Themselves? The personal trainer? In my experience, it’s generally neither. Instead, they blame a busy work schedule, or a struggling relationship, or a crying baby. All legitimate reasons. But they fail to get to the crux of the issue.
Really what happened was that the personal trainer made big demands of their willpower and they had not yet developed the proper psychology to come through on those demands. It’s as simple as that.
And until the psychology is dealt with, overweight people will almost always fluctuate between diets and a free-for-all; between exercising 2 hours a day, 7 days a week, and not moving at all.
Mind Your Mind
So let’s deal with that psychology.
The most important thing you can ask yourself is ‘why?’ Why do you want to lose weight? Why do you want a 6-pack? Don’t stop at your first answer. Drill down. Asking why again and again until you really can go no further and you will find yourself standing face to face with what truly motivates you to lose weight.
If what you come up with sounds ridiculous, it’s because it is. It’s not uncommon for something like ‘because otherwise no one will ever love me.’ to come out of this. But this is good. Now that we’ve found what really motivates you we can examine it for fallacy and make adjustments at a foundational level.
Adjustments made at the foundational level very rarely come quickly. Rather, we must practice day after day, week after week and slowly we will make change.
‘But I just wanna lose weight… This all sounds overly complicated and woo-woo!’
Tell any ethical construction company to build a house on poor foundations and they’ll tell you to get on your bike. An unethical company will build it, but I promise you, the cracks will start to show and eventually you’ll be left with rubble and a lot of money down the drain.
This is no different.
In future articles, we will discuss how to change at the foundational, psychology level and ensure permanent weight loss – because that’s what we’re really after.